July 27, 2011 // Franchising.com // LOUISVILLE, KY - KFC wants you … and your Colonel Sanders stories. Thirty years after Colonel Harland Sanders left his legacy as the iconic founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, the brand is reinvesting in his image and memory via a website designed to reach a new generation.
Today – to keep Sanders' legacy alive – KFC launched www.ColonelSanders.com, an online destination designed to collect photos, videos and stories about Colonel Sanders from family members, friends and everyday Americans who either met or knew of the American icon.
"Colonel Sanders, his secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices and all he achieved are the cornerstones of our company," said Barry Westrum, chief marketing officer for KFC. "We're honored to launch this project to preserve the memory of our founder by collecting stories from folks far and wide."
Based on the submissions the website collects, KFC may compile and release the stories at a later date.
Along with being an iconic American entrepreneur, Colonel Sanders was also a Southern gentlemen, said Shirley Topmiller, who served as the Colonel's assistant and worked at KFC for 28 years before her retirement.
"We know there are countless stories out there about the Colonel," says Topmiller, who as Sanders' assistant handled everything from scheduling his television appearances to ordering his famed white suits.
Now, Topmiller is helping to lead the campaign to preserve the legacy of her former boss.
"If you knew the Colonel, met him during all of his travels, saw him on television or just heard a story or two from a friend of a friend, we'd love to hear from you," said Topmiller, "We want to preserve all of these great memories before they're gone forever."
At the age of 65, Harland Sanders turned a $105 Social Security check into a global chicken empire and until his death at the age of 90, traveled 250,000 miles a year visiting KFC restaurants worldwide. For years, he carried the secret Original Recipe in his head and the spice mixture in his car as he drove coast to coast visiting franchisees.
"I'm thrilled to be helping preserve stories from the Colonel's life so that future generations can understand what an important role he played in the history of KFC and our country," said Topmiller.
Please share your Colonel experience online at www.ColonelSanders.com or visit www.kfc.com for more information.
KFC Corporation, based in Louisville, Ky., is the world's most popular chicken restaurant chain specializing in Original Recipe®, Extra Crispy™, Kentucky Grilled Chicken® and Crispy Strips with home-style sides, Honey BBQ Wings, and freshly made chicken sandwiches including the Double Down™ and the Doublicious™. There are more than 15,000 KFC outlets in 109 countries and territories around the world serving some 12 million customers each day. KFC Corporation is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., Louisville, Ky. (NYSE: YUM.) For more information, visit www.kfc.com. Follow KFC on Facebook (www.facebook.com/KFC) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/kfc_colonel).
The Kentucky Fried Chicken concept was pioneered by Colonel Harland Sanders (1890-1980), whose cooking career began at age six. Sanders held jobs ranging from streetcar conductor to insurance salesman, but his cooking skills were a constant throughout his life. In 1930, Sanders operated a service station in Corbin, Ky., and filled the stomachs of hungry travelers who stopped in to fill up their gas tanks. Sanders soon moved his restaurant across the street when he could no longer keep up with the demand from travelers who he had been feeding at his kitchen table. In 1935, the Kentucky Governor made Sanders an honorary Kentucky Colonel for his contributions to the state's cuisine. Over the next decade, the Colonel perfected his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices and the basic cooking technique still used at KFC today. When Sanders was 65, a new interstate highway forced the closure of his restaurant and he was left with only his recipe for fried chicken and a $105 Social Security check. The Colonel hit the road and struck handshake deals with restaurant owners who agreed to sell his fried chicken. What began as a dream fueled by the Original Recipe, a no-quit attitude and a Social Security check grew into the world's largest chicken restaurant chain. Until he passed away in 1980 at the age of 90, the Colonel still traveled 250,000 miles a year visiting KFC restaurants around the world.