Long before there were creepy commercials with a mascot that will give small children nightmares, there was a real and successful Colonel Harland Sanders selling fried chicken in a roadside cafe in Kentucky. In fact, it was so successful that he toured the country looking for potential franchisees to sell his original brand of chicken made from the now famous 11 herbs and spices. When he met up with the restaurateur Pete Harman in South Salt Lake City,
Utah, it was the start of what would become a worldwide chain.
The Colonel, who was born in Indiana but moved had started selling his fried chicken out of gas station’s storage room in North Corbin, KY in 1934 but by 1940 it had outgrown the small dining area and he opened up his own cafe named the Sanders Court and Cafe across the street. A decade later he set out with the plan to let business owners sell fried chicken using his likeness in his recognizable white suit and bow tie and to be able to cook the chicken with his own recipe. In return, the new franchisee would have to pay the Colonel a fee of 4 cents per chicken sold.
Already established with a thriving restaurant, Pete Harman signed on as the first franchisee and history was made in 1952, but it was not quite complete. That was left up the sign painter Don Anderson, who himself came up with the advertising line selling “Kentucky Fried Chicken.” To the people of 1950’s Utah, Kentucky apparently seemed like an exotic locale and personified Southern style cooking. With that one seemingly small change, the first Kentucky Fried Chicken was indeed created and opened half a continent away from Kentucky in Utah.
South Salt Lake City, Utah July 2016