Fried chicken has long been a beloved staple of the American South, in all its crunchy, greasy glory. Pair that with an easy to love Colonel and a memorable catchphrase and you have the makings of one of the most easily recognized brands in the world: Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The chain, which now has locations in more than 105 countries across the globe, got its humble start in the front of a gas station in Corbin, KY. First opened by Harland Sanders, a gas station operator, in 1930, the original restaurant was more of a hobby than a multimillion-dollar business idea. It wasn’t until 1940 that Sanders developed what is now KFC’s greatest assets—his top secret Original Chicken recipe—and perfected his frying technique, thanks to the advent of the pressure cooker.
It took another 12 years to the open the first (of what would soon be many) KFC franchises, kickstarting the growth of a global brand and eventually making the Colonel an international celebrity. Although the man with the kick-ass facial hair passed away in 1982, his face still lives on buckets of chicken and wrappers of Double Down sandwiches around the world.
While the familiar menu of chicken and sides offered at KFC may be straightforward, the chain’s history is filled with surprises.