September 9, 2014
This may seem odd, but when I see an image of Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fame, I think of Japan. There are many KFC outlets in Japan, and each one has an incredible statue of Colonel Sanders by the entrance way. Although he did live, he doesn’t to me appear to be a real living person. Only an image. A ghost image to be honest. Also when I used to eat meat, I liked the Japanese version of KFC. For whatever reasons, which are a mystery to me, the Japanese taste seems different in these chain of fast-food stores. Everyone I know in Japan loves KFC. Now, I don’t love the food but I’m fascinated with the numerous statues of Colonel Sanders.
Colonel Sanders was born on September 9, 1890 in a small house in Henryville, Indiana. The population was 1,905 according to the 2010 census. Weather wise, Henryville has a humid subtropical climate, which means it has hot, humid summers and generally mild winters. In 1902, after his father died, he moved with his family to Greenwood, Indiana. He didn’t get along with his new step-father, and drifted away from his home life to move in with his uncle in New Albany, Indiana. His uncle worked for the city’s streetcar company, and got his nephew a job as a conductor. He then falsified his date of birth and joined the United States Army in 1906, where he was sent to Cuba. He was honorably discharged after only three months and then moved to Sheffield, Alabama, where another uncle lived. There he got a job as a blacksmith’s helper, and then eventually became a fireman at the age of 16.
He got married, had three children, and while being a fireman during the day, at night he studied law by correspondence and eventually became a lawyer. His legal career ended when he got into a fistfight with his client in a courtroom. He then moved to Jeffersonville, Indiana to work for the Prudential Life Insurance Company, where he sold life insurance. He then got fired for insubordination, and got a salesman job with the Mutual Benefit Life of New Jersey. Around this time, he started up a ferry boat company that was a success. He operated a boat that went from Jeffersonville to Louisville and back. He sold his business for $22,000 and used the money to launch a company that made acetylene lamps. Sadly this was not the right type of lamp, because Delco introduced an electric lamp that soon became the format that was sold at the time. He moved to Winchester, Kentucky to work as a salesman for the Michelin Tire Company, but lost that jobs when Michelin closed their New Jersey manufacturing plant. He then met the general manager of Standard Oil of Kentucky, who asked him to run a service station in Nicholasville. But like his luck, that too didn’t pan out, due to the Great Depression, and therefore the gas station had to shut down. However, if you failed once, try again. The Shell Oil Company gave a service station to Sanders rent free in return for a percentage of sales. It was here that he began to serve chicken dishes and at the same time he was awarded with the title of Kentucky Colonel, by the Governor of the state of Kentucky.
Colonel Sanders claimed that he had a original secret recipe for his chicken, and the only thing he had to admit to the public was that he used salt and pepper as well as 11 herbs and spices. The big difference between KFC in the U.S. & Japan is that in the States they use vegetable oil for frying the chicken. In Japan, the oil used is mainly the more expensive cottonseed and corn oil. Therefore the taste difference between the two cultures. So the colonel eventually sold KFC to John Y. Brown, Jr. And Jack C. Massey for $2 million. When many years later Brown and Massey sold the chain for $239 million.
Colonel Sanders died in 1980, but in truth did he even existed? After he was awarded the identity of being a Kentucky colonel, he immediately dressed himself as one. He grew a goatee and wore a black string tie with a white suit. He never wore anything else in public, and he in fact bleached his mustache and goatee to match his white hair and white suit. He had a heavy wool white suit for the winter, and wore a white light cotton suit in the summer time. Colonel Sanders wore this uniform for twenty years. So even after his physical death, he still lives on as the logo for KFC. But again in Japan, one is accustomed to see his features, his white suit, string tie, in front of 1,181 outlets as of December 2013. As of this writing, Kentucky Fried Chicken is well known as being the meal at Christmas time in Japan. Roughly one billion chickens are killed each other, and therefore I usually just have a salad on Christmas Day.