Kentucky Fried Chicken Museum

Learn the History of Kentucky Fried Chicken

At the mention of Kentucky, one’s thoughts often go to horse racing, Bluegrass, bourbon and Mint Juleps. Another thing Kentucky is famous for is chicken.

Corbin, Kentucky, is the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The Colonel Sanders Museum is located in Corbin, about an hour and a half south of Lexington.

History of Kentucky Fried Chicken

In 1930, a man named Harland Sanders operated a service station with a small lunch counter called Sanders Court and Cafe in the small town of Corbin, Kentucky. While Sanders offered a variety of food, his fried chicken became the most popular item on the menu. Because of the popularity of his chicken, Sanders soon had to expand his restaurant. By 1937, he could serve 142 customers at one time. He also added a motel to his service station and restaurant at the same time. The original location was destroyed by fire in 1939, but was rebuilt.

Kentucky Fried Chicken Secret Recipe

Wanting to be unique, Sanders experimented with different seasonings to come up with the perfect recipe in which to coat his chicken. He finally settles on his secret recipe of eleven herbs and spices. At about the same time, the pressure cooker is introduced, and Sanders used it to fry his chicken, enabling him to serve his customers fresh chicken faster.

Colonel Sanders

Harland Sanders was widely known as Colonel Sanders, having been made an honorary Kentucky Colonel by Governor Ruby Laffoon in 1936.

KFC Restaurants

Colonel Sanders began franchising Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1952, traveling around the country, frying chicken for restaurant owners. By 1960, there were 190 franchise owners and 400 stores across the United States and Canada. Sanders sold the franchise business in 1964, but was retained as spokesman for the company.

Colonel Sanders died in 1980 of leukemia. His legacy remains, although Kentucky Fried Chicken, now known as KFC, has changed hands many times since the company began. The little restaurant that Sanders began in 1930 is now one of the world’s largest restaurant systems, with approximately 32,000 restaurants located in more than 100 countries.

Kentucky Fried Chicken Museum and Colonel Sanders Grave

Registered as an historic site, the museum houses items from the early beginnings of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Visitors can view a replica of Sanders’ original kitchen, a diorama of the Sanders Court and Cafe, and a variety of Kentucky Fried Chicken paraphernalia. Don’t expect to see Sanders’ original recipe though. His mixture remains a secret, and the recipe is housed in a safe in Louisville.

After a stop at the original restaurant site in Corbin, visitors might want to head north to Louisville, about 2 hours away, to the Cave Hill National Cemetery where Colonel Sanders was laid to rest. His grave is easy to find. Not only is it adorned with a bust of the Colonel, there is a yellow line painted along the cemetery road from the entrance leading to his grave.

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