Harland Sanders, a charismatic figure who proudly adopted the moniker “The Colonel,” ingeniously crafted his renowned secret blend of herbs and spices that would become synonymous with the success of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).
Despite Sanders’ connection to Kentucky, the iconic KFC brand didn’t experience significant growth until a decade later, and interestingly, not in Kentucky, but rather in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 1952, the Colonel entered into a franchise agreement with Pete Harman, a local restaurateur with a passion for bringing delicious food to his community. It was at Harman’s Café that the trajectory of KFC’s success took a decisive turn.
The Harman family and Colonel Sanders reached a mutual agreement wherein the Harmans undertook to remit a nickel for each chicken they sold to Colonel Sanders. In return for an expenditure of $3.50, patrons were entitled to enjoy a delectable ensemble comprising 14 pieces of chicken, along with sides of mashed potatoes, rolls, and gravy.
As a consequence of the prosperous informal arrangement, Colonel Sanders took a pivotal step in 1952 by officially incorporating his enterprise under the moniker “Kentucky Fried Chicken.” By the onset of the 1960s, the KFC brand had proliferated, boasting an impressive network of more than 600 franchised outlets.
The collaborative partnership between the Harman family and Colonel Sanders proved enduring as they continued to collaborate over the years. Harman, in particular, played a pivotal role in the evolution of the franchise. He not only conceptualized the iconic “to-go” paper bucket but also undertook the creation of comprehensive training manuals and product guides for fellow franchisees. Emphasizing the renowned “Finger-lickin’ good” slogan, Harman and Sanders together contributed significantly to the enduring success and popularity of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
A pivotal moment in the branding strategy occurred when Rodney L. Anderson, a skilled sign painter at Harman Café, proposed a clever alteration to the product’s name. Instead of labeling it as Southern-fried chicken, Anderson suggested using the more distinctive term “Kentucky-fried chicken.” This simple yet impactful adjustment not only set the product apart but also contributed to the establishment of KFC as an iconic and globally recognized fast-food brand. The journey from Sanders’ original recipe to the flourishing franchise in Utah showcases the entrepreneurial spirit and creative marketing decisions that played a crucial role in shaping the success of Kentucky Fried Chicken.