KFC Corporation, based in Louisville, Kentucky, is the world's most popular chicken restaurant chain, specializing in Original Recipe®, Extra Crispy™, Twister® and Colonel's Crispy Strips® chicken with homestyle sides.
Every day, nearly eight million customers are served around the world. KFC's menu includes Original Recipe® chicken -- made with the same great taste Colonel Harland Sanders created more than a half-century ago. Customers around the globe also enjoy more than 300 other products -- from a Chunky Chicken Pot Pie in the United States to a salmon sandwich in Japan.
KFC has more than 11,000 restaurants in more than 80 countries and territories around the world. And in quite a few U.S. cities, KFC is teaming up with sister restaurants, A&W, All-American Food™, Long John Silver's, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, selling products from the popular chains in one convenient location.
KFC is part of Yum! Brands, Inc., which is the world's largest restaurant system with over 32,500 KFC, A&W All-American Food™,Taco Bell, Long John Silver's and Pizza Hut restaurants in more than 100 countries and territories.
Kentucky Fried Chicken, pioneered by Colonel Harland Sanders, has grown to become one of the largest quick service food service systems in the world - with more than a billion "finger lickin' good" Kentucky Fried Chicken dinners served annually in more than 80 countries and territories. But success didn't come easily.
In 1896 Harland's father died, forcing his mother to enter the workforce to support the family. At the tender age of six, young Harlan was responsible for taking care of his younger siblings and doing much of the family's cooking. A year later he was already a master of several regional dishes. Over the course of the next 30 years, Sanders held jobs ranging from streetcar conductor to insurance salesman, but throughout it all his skill as a cook remained.
The Cook Becomes a Colonel
In 1930, the then 40-year-old Sanders was operating a service station in Corbin, Kentucky, and it was there that he began cooking for hungry travelers who stopped in for gas. He didn't have a restaurant yet, so patrons ate from his own dining table in the station's humble living quarters. It was then that he invented what's called "home meal replacement" - selling complete meals to busy, time-strapped families. He called it, "Sunday Dinner, Seven Days a Week."
As Sanders' fame grew, Governor Ruby Laffoon made him a Kentucky Colonel in 1935 in recognition of his contributions to the state's cuisine. Within four years, his establishment was listed in Duncan Hines' "Adventures in Good Eating."
As more people started coming strictly for the food, he moved across the street to increase his capacity. Over the next decade, he perfected his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices and the basic cooking technique that is still used today.
The Colonel's Cooking Spreads Worldwide
In 1955, confident of the quality of his fried chicken, the Colonel devoted himself to developing his chicken franchising business. Less than 10 years later, Sanders had more than 600 KFC franchises in the U.S. and Canada, and in 1964 he sold his interest in the U.S. company for $2 million to a group of investors including John Y. Brown Jr. (who later became governor of Kentucky).
Under the new owners, Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation grew rapidly. It went public in 1966, was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1969 and eventually was acquired by PepsiCo, Inc. in 1986. In 1997, PepsiCo, Inc. spun-off of its quick service restaurants- including KFC-into an independent restaurant company, Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc. Today, the restaurant company (now YUM! Brands, Inc.), is the world's largest in terms of system units with nearly 32,500 in more than 100 countries and territories.
Until he was fatally stricken with leukemia in 1980 at the age of 90, the Colonel traveled 250,000 miles a year visiting KFC restaurants around the world.
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