Harland Sanders was born in the United States in 1890, but his childhood wasn’t a happy one. His father died when he was only six years old, so his mother needed to find a job. She went to work in a shirt factory, and Harland stayed at home to look after his younger brother and sister. That was when he first learned how to cook.
He left home when he was only twelve years old and worked on a nearby farm. After that, he had a lot of different jobs. In 1930, he became a gas station manager in Corbin, Kentucky. He started cooking meals for hungry travelers who stopped at the gas station, and soon, people came by only for the food.
Harland moved to a 142-seat restaurant across the street where he could serve all his customers. Over the next nine years, he developed the chicken recipe that made him famous.
In the early 1950s, he closed the restaurant and decided to sell his recipe to other businesses. The first official Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant didn’t open until August of 1952. By 1964, there were more than 600 KFCs in North America. That year, Sanders sold the company for $2 million, but he continued to work as KFC’s public spokesman and visited restaurants all over the world. He travelled 250,000 miles every year until he died in 1980 at age 90. Six years later, PepsiCo bought KFC for $840 million.
There are now KFC restaurants in more than 80 countries. They sell 2.5 billion chicken dinners every year, and the recipe is still a secret.
Adapted from Redston, C., & Cunningham, G. (2009). Face2face. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press