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The incredible true story of Colonel Sanders

Colonel SandersColonel Sanders (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today KFC stands as a defining symbol of the American Dream - born from one man's bloody-minded perseverance, 19,000 stores worldwide now generate $23billion in revenue.

But behind this remarkable success story lies one man - Harland Sanders, a bad-tempered perfectionist who spent decades tweaking his secret chicken recipe that ultimately revolutionized fast food.

Sanders first developed his love of cooking as a child. Born in Henryville, Indiana, in 1890, he was forced to care for his siblings after his father died when he was five.

With his mother away working, he sometimes looked after them for days at a time - before quitting school altogether at age 12 and leaving his mother and stepfather's home to find work.

During this time he jumped between jobs on farms, railroads, and as a cleaner before meeting Josephine King at age 19, who he soon married.

After this - sometime around the early 1920s - he spent three years practising law, though this ended when he had a brawl with a client in a courtroom.

Further ventures into ferry boat sales, lamp manufacturing and a job with Michelin Tires ended similarly before he settled in Corbin, Kentucky, in 1930 to run a service station.

It was then 40-year-old Sanders and his wife Josephine began their first foray as restaurateurs.

Located close to a highway in order to entice passing travellers, they soon opened a diner and motel next to the service station where they sold home-cooked meals.

However, the pressure cooker which would ultimately allow him to cook the chicken quickly and to order had not yet been invented, nor had he finalised the last of his 11 secret spices. 

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