KFC honors Colonel who hatched the brand
July 29th, 2011
09:45 AM ET
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The Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation has something to crow about. They've just launched a brand new website in honor of founder Colonel Harland Sanders, and they're inviting his devoted fans to share their stories and memories of the man behind the brand.

“Sanders had an impact on people. They remember that interaction when they met him,” says Rick Maynard, public relations manager of the KFC Corporation.

The idea to start ColonelSanders.com came from a meeting with franchisees who have been with the company for many years. “One day they were all telling these amazing stories of the Colonel. Our goal is to capture the stories before they’re forgotten, “says Maynard.

Shirley Topmiller, Sanders’ longtime assistant, has been instrumental in organizing the effort to collect the stories.

“We just don’t want people to forget the Colonel and the very large figure that he was,” Topmiller says. “He was a man of confidence, and he lived his life with hard work and perseverance. He believed in following your dreams. He always said a dream is just a suggestion to you to get up and do something about it.”

Sanders was awarded an honorary colonel degree from the state of Kentucky in the 1930s for his charitable work, Topmiller says. There was an orphanage near Corbin, the town where he started his first restaurant. The colonel made homemade ice cream for the children there every Sunday.

The site contains quotes and old videos of the colonel working in the kitchen and speaking about his life’s work. In one video, Sanders preaches the value of hard work and shares his philosophy. “Have ambition to work, willingness to work, and integrity in what you do.”

That mantra elevated the colonel from his humble background as a man with a $105 Social Security check and a chicken recipe to the owner of a successful worldwide business.

The website allows people to submit photos and videos along with their text-based stories. Many of the memories are testaments to the Colonel’s generosity and character, rather than the man with the secret fried chicken recipe - which Topmiller claims is locked up in a vault at KFC Headquarters.

One fan wrotes, “In 1973 it was everyone for themselves when boarding planes. My mother, carrying a half-year-old me, was struggling across the tarmac when the Colonel noticed her. He insisted on helping her onto the plane, carrying my diaper bag and making me smile. My mother was always amazed that this important man, followed by bodyguards, took the time to carry a diaper bag!”

Another Sanders devotee shared, “When I was a grade school student in Louisville, Ky., the Colonel would stop by the school and gives us butterscotch candy from the pocket of his white jacket. I remember him doing this two or three times and as a 10 year old, I really did not have an appreciation for what was happening at that moment.”

One man recorded a video testimony to Sanders’ charitable nature. “We picked this kid up, and the Colonel found out he worked in a restaurant and was going to this little college, so we picked him up and took him to the college. The kid said, ‘Well, you can let me right on out here, and I can walk on back to my dorm.’ The Colonel said, ‘No, I know somebody up there in this office, and I want to talk to him.’ So we went up there, and the Colonel gave him a full scholarship right there on the spot.”

Visitors to the website are greeted by a minute and a half video introduction to the Colonel’s life and legacy.

The KFC Corporation expects that people associate the Colonel with the brand of KFC, which could help sales, but that’s not the aim. Maynard says the website is first and foremost about capturing special moments with the Colonel and points out that the website does not even provide a link to KFC.

When the website launched, nearly sixty people submitted stories and more submissions continue to roll in. Maynard says for now the plan is to maintain and keep up the site well into the future. Eventually, the collection may be turned into a book.

When asked what the Colonel would think about the website, Topmiller says, “He would love it. He was always interested in all things new and progression.”

One of the Colonel’s quotes featured prominently on the website suggests that perhaps he will be satisfied with his place in history, “People will rust out quicker’n they’ll ever wear out, and I’ll be darned if I’ll ever rust out.”

soundoff (194 Responses)
  1. Michelle

    I had the pleasure of meeting Colonel Sanders in the early 1970's. He was a personal friend of another restaurant owner in a little town on Lake Erie called Port Clinton,Ohio. In the summer Mr. Sanders sometimes stopped into visit his friend and owner of the business, Bob Underwood, at Underwood's Fine Foods. I worked at Underwood's Restaurant as a waitress and was introduced to Mr. Sanders. He shook my hand, smiled and began telling a story that I wish I could recall all these years later. He was a very polite gentleman and looked just like his T.V. commercials wearing his white southern style suit and string style bow tie. I just wanted to share this experience with you all.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  2. Tara Snow

    I often eat KFC... have personally loved their stuff, but I keep coming across stories of people who have had really bad experiences with the company. There are some really funny vents about it here.

    September 2, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  3. Me

    If god didn't want us to eat chicken why didn't he teach them to fly? I don't see many Long Island Fried Seagull stores popping up!

    July 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  4. ChickenMan

    Last time I saw Colonel Sanders..he was in a corner chokin' his chicken......He's Everywhere,He's everywhere.

    July 30, 2011 at 8:16 am |
  5. IRandyman917

    Vegatarian...Isn"t that Latin for can"t hunt hunt worth a damn?

    July 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  6. erin

    he'd roll over in his grave if he saw the factory farms and joke of a chicken "meat" sold today at his chain

    July 29, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
  7. eric Z

    I've been to the Col's orginal resturant in CORBIN KY in what WAS a dry County many years ago...............nice!

    July 29, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  8. Two words for you

    @ Truth LOL

    July 29, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  9. Truth

    My, My, why all the hate here? It is a meal choice folks! If you don't want chicken, then have a freakin salad.

    I swear, some of you people need to get l@!d more...

    July 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  10. Kissoff

    How do you know he's a hillbilly (white) ? Dumbass!

    July 29, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  11. Professor Erectile Dsyfunction@Shaquanza LaToya Smiff

    I'm going to prescribe just a little more chlorine to take care of your gene pool.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  12. Bates

    I think it was the character of Stuart Mackenzie from "So I married an Axe Murderer" who summed up the Colonel the ebst:

    " Oh I hated the Colonel, with his wee beady eyes and that smug look on his face. 'Oh you're gonna buy my chicken!"
    And when asked how he can hate the Colonel he responds:

    "Because he puts an addictive chemical in his chicken that makes ya crave it fortnightly, smartass!"

    And that my friends, is the Colonel in a nutshell.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • Two words for you

      @BATES LMAO, HEAD! move, lugging that gargantuam cranium about- oh what? he's going to cry into his great big pilla. LOL- yeah its not exact quote, its been years, so thanks for the laugh.
      Charlie! light a match!
      so off the topic and I do not even care. Happy Friday!

      July 29, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  13. Colonel of Truth

    Jack C. Massey made KFC into what it is today. Sanders became a mascot for the business after Massey turned his back road chicken shack into the fast food chain we all recognize.

    Wikipedia: "Jack C. Massey"
    In 1964, "he (Massey) bought Kentucky Fried Chicken from its founder, Harland Sanders, for $2 million. Seven years later he sold it for $239 million"

    July 29, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Colonel of Truth

      Before anyone argues $239 million is a drop in the bucket (?) compared to what the company is worth today, KFC still operates on the model Massey implemented. And, after selling KFC, Massey founded Mrs. Winner's and took Wendy's to the NYSE. This is all after founding Hospital Corporation of America, the largest for-profit hospital chain in the U.S.

      July 29, 2011 at 9:59 am |
      • josie

        hi i used the email of my friend im assaad abou mekhael from lebanon i have place here we want to make restaurant kfc I want to make deal with u. what is the kfc rules and how i make it here by ur compony. and how we connect you. coz ur food was so delicious all people like every where. so can u help me how i make it please. thank you for ur cosideration im waiting to ur responds

        July 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  14. Beavis Comeavis

    Deuteronomy 8:15-17
    He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you KFC to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end you might open your own franchised location. You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me through the powers of fried chicken."

    July 29, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  15. ash

    The Colonel may be real but his legacy has and is still destroying American's eating habits and their health. I ate at a KFC this past weekend after 3 long years and had to come home and detox myself. Not to mention a lousy service from dunderheads who work there.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Professor Erectile Dsyfunction@ash

      Honk if you want to see my middle finger.

      July 29, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  16. recheckfacts

    Actually the Colonel was screwed over because no one explained to him what a "stock" was when he sold the business. So he gave them away. He hated the fact that he sold the restaurant and hated all the new items they tried to put on the menu claiming it was "The Colonel's New Recipe."

    July 29, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  17. JTrain

    Boom...finally found the mural for my kitchen. I can't go wrong with the colonel overlooking all my mantastic recipes. As for the Alliance against the mass slaughtering of chickens, please keep up the good fight. While the world battles poverty, hunger, and a diminishing ecosystem, it takes a true doucher to take on fried chicken.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  18. Two words for you

    Gotta agree with TopVillian- that was pretty rank

    July 29, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  19. StopCrying

    After reading the majority of these comments I am shocked at the amount of people that can read about this man and say such ignorant nasty remarks about his character because he mass produced chicken products. Are we serious people? I highly doubt that 100 years ago when we were slaughtering chickens by hand it was FAR more inhumane then the way it happens in slaughterhouses now, quick and painless. Oh and that thing called food, yea we need that to survive, and has anyone noticed how many people are on this earth? yea, a lot, hence why we need slaughterhouses to keep up. Im thinking this world wouldnt survive on salads and the occasional animal that, to appease the masses must be killed with kindness...smh. I digress. Colonel you were an amazing man of superior character, may your legend live on. Oh and by the way your chicken is delicious!

    July 29, 2011 at 9:22 am |
  20. Fibonacci

    Don't forget about Dave Thomas' contribution to the entire KFC business. Yes, before founding Wendy's, Dave Thomas was instrumental in taking KFC to main-street America and made the high school dropout a millionaire.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:20 am |
  21. jessicaber

    a kind man and a good business man I was told or something like that.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Professor Erectile Dsyfunction@jessicaber

      Here is a prescription for some anti-ambiguity pills.

      July 29, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  22. jessicaber

    He was a really good father or something like that wasn't he? A family man?

    July 29, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  23. Jcreliever

    CNN: your list of possible answers is quite droll. Now I see why there is so much cynicism on your blogs.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • Professor Erectile Dsyfunction@Jcreliever

      I suggest that you smile, it's the second best thing you can do with your lips.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  24. William

    The owner of locals KFCs went to my grade school...and had the Colonel come in 1971 to address our class. I asked him for his autograph and he pulled out a small photo and signed it for me. He was exactly as you see, a pleasant old southern gentleman...I still have the photo.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  25. Wakka Wakka

    How can you tell you are talking to a vegan?

    Oh, don't worry, they will tell you. Repeatedly.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • Two words for you

      @wakka wakka (wakka) LMAO, so true!

      July 29, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  26. Obama

    And projects everywhere are having a celebration in honor of him as well...

    July 29, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  27. MKEHammer

    Great comment and Little Nicky reference! You know good chicken when you come across it.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:11 am |
  28. Kikky56

    I remember my aunt, who lived in Corbin, Kentucky, telling me she was a telephone operator. She spoke with the Colonel many times on the phone and she said he was always a rude person! I suppose nobody is perfect.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  29. MKEHammer

    I prefer Popeyes.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • nolittlething


      July 29, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • amg

      Yes, Popeyes is the best. I love it because it's crispier. Also, Popeye's spicy chicken is good.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  30. The Buc-buc-buc Stops Here

    Q. Why did the chicken cross the road?

    A. To get the #### away from Colonel Sanders!

    July 29, 2011 at 9:06 am |
  31. THunter99

    Ever notice that many people who "love" animals, hate a lot of people? Sorry, but we're at the top of the food chain; deal with it.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:00 am |
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