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The History of KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken)

KFC (formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken) was founded by Colonel Sanders. His father died when he was very young and his mother had to start working extra jobs, so Sanders began cooking for his family at a young age. After his mother remarried, he was forced to leave home because his stepfather didn’t want children around. Soon after, Sanders left school and began working a series of jobs. In the early 1930s, he was running a service station when a customer complained that there was no good food in the area. Sanders decided to make use of his childhood cooking skills and converted a storage room into a small diner. He served ham, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and fried chicken. Customers loved his food and Sanders was able to turn the success of his small diner into the Kentucky Fried Chicken empire. By the time he sold the business in 1964, there were over 600 franchises! He remained the face of the company even after selling it, which he reportedly regretted, as he felt his former restaurants were selling “the worst fried chicken I've ever seen.” Still, Kentucky Fried Chicken remained popular with most of the public and the signature fried chicken recipe remains a closely guarded secret to this day. Over the years, the chain became famous for serving food in iconic red-and-white buckets. Dave Thomas, a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisee who later went on to found Wendy’s, came up with the idea for the buckets as well as the streamlined menu and rotating chicken bucket signage. He also encouraged Sanders to become the face of Kentucky Fried Chicken by appearing in commercials and other promotional materials. The famous catchphrase, “It's finger lickin' good!" was developed accidentally by Dave Harman, who ran a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Phoenix in the 1950s. Harman regularly appeared in local ads for the restaurant that featured him eating a plate of chicken. A viewer complained that Harman licked his hands while eating on air, and when he heard about it, Harman responded, “Well, it's finger lickin' good." Management liked the phrase and it quickly became the chain's main marketing tagline, which still appears in advertisements today. The chain changed its name from Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC in 1991. While some people think this was an attempt to make the food sound healthier (and that may well have been a factor), it was primarily done to save money. In 1990, the Commonwealth of Kentucky trademarked its name, which forced Kentucky Fried Chicken to pay fees on its own name, so it was changed to KFC — an acronym that was already in use by the general public by this time — to avoid the expense. Today, KFC is popular throughout the U.S. as well as in many parts of the world, particularly in Japan, where the chain sells a special Christmas meal each year!

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