The Fried Chicken

Colonel Sanders Failed 1001 Times Before Making KFC - YouTube

Early days

This is the story about a boy from Henryville Indiana.  In 1895 when he was 6 years old, his father passed away.  His mother had to start working in a tomato cannery.  He had to cook and care for his siblings.  Life hit him hard at a very young age and because of the difficult situation he faced he had to work as a farm hand at the age of 10.  When he was in 6th grade, he dropped out of High School and left his home.  He started working as a painter for horse carriages.  When he was 16, he faked his age to serve in the US Army.

Law School and career

After being honorably discharged, a year later, he started working as a railroad labor.  He studied law at a nearby University until he ruined his legal career by getting into a fight.  He was forced to move in with his mom and getting job selling life insurances.  After sometime, he got fired for not following orders.  Sometime later, he established a ferry boat company and it was an instant success.  Later, he tried cashing in his business to create a chemical lamp manufacturing company only to find out, that another company was selling electric lamps, much better than his company’s lamp.


All this hardships in life, this man wouldn’t give-up.  He moved to work as a salesman for a tyre company, but again he lost his job when the company closed it manufacturing plant.  By the age of 30, he met the general manager of an oil company, who asked to run a service station for him, but the station had to close down because of a great depression.

Fried chicken

The same year Shell Oil Company offered him a service station rent free in turn for paying the company a percentage of sales.  He started operating the service station and also began to serve chicken dishes and other simple meals to people who were stopping by the station.  His pan fried chicken soon became a favorite for the people in the area and made a name for him.  A few years later, he took it out of the station and started a proper restaurant.  After fairly succeeding at the venture, he started advertising his food.  To his shock an argument erupted with a local competitor and resulted in a fatal shootout, where one of his employee died.

The Motel

Four years later he bought a motel near to his chicken restaurant, hoping for a better business, but it caught fire and burnt down to the ground along with his restaurant.  Yet, this ambitious man rebuilt and ran a new motel with 140 seat restaurant, until World War II forced to close it down again.

1009 times of failure and failure

When the war had ended, he tried selling his recipe to other restaurants.  His recipe was rejected 1009 times.  Finally in 1952, he sold his secret recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken for the first time to the operator of the city’s largest restaurant.  It quickly became a hit and as a result several other restaurant owners franchised the concept and paid him 0.04 cents/chicken.  However, good times didn’t last long.  His own restaurant was closed when an Interstate Highway was built, reducing customer traffic.  He sold the restaurant and was left only with savings and 107 USD/month of social security.

The dream.

So finally, he pursued his dream to franchise his chicken concept nationwide and travelled the US looking for suitable restaurants.  He opened a new restaurant and company headquarter in 1959.  He slept in the back of his car and usually visited restaurants, offered to cook his chicken.  When the owners liked it he would negotiate a franchise rights.  At 1965 at the age of 75 he was just getting started.  After years of rejections, failures, misfortunes, Col. Sanders franchising approach became highly successful.


KFC was one of the first fast food QSR (Quick Service Restaurants) to open globally.  It opened outlets in Canada. UK, Mexico, and Jamaica by the mid 1970s.  The Colonel remained the company symbol after selling it.  He travelled over 400 thousand kilometres a year, visiting KFC restaurants and delighting customers around the world.  At the age of 90, Col. Sanders passed away.  At that time, there were around 6000 KFC locations in 48 different countries.  In 2018 there were 22, 621 KFC restaurants worldwide.

In Life, In Your Life, if you are discouraged by setbacks or overwhelmed by rejections, remember the story of Col. Sanders, a sixth grade dropout, fired from multiple jobs, ruined his legal career, setback by great depression, fire, and world war II and yet he became the world’s best cook, after reaching his retirement age.  Col. Sanders was a success story, despite thousands of rejections and misfortunes, how dedication and hard work can create success regardless of age.

Anwar M Quereshi

A Legal guy who is passionate about the fourth pillar of Indian Constitution - Journalism and Reporting in the field of Law and Management.

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