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The 'secret recipe' to Colonel Sanders' success

The legacy of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) founder Harland David Sanders, or Colonel Sanders as he is better known, lives on. MATTHEW MURRAY reports

The legacy of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) founder Harland David Sanders, or Colonel Sanders as he is better known, lives on. MATTHEW MURRAY reports

Colonel Sanders’ face might be famous, but his story is rather less well known. However, one American preacher and author is doing his utmost to change that.

Dr Bob Rodgers, whose father, Waymon Rodgers, was the Colonel’s pastor, has written a book about the legendary fried chicken entrepreneur – and reveals some startling information about the man.
He tells how his father baptised the multi-millionaire in the River Jordan in 1967, shortly after he had turned to Christianity.

Rodgers writes: “My dad knelt down beside him and asked, ‘Colonel, would you like to get born again?’

The old Colonel, with tears in his eyes, said, ‘I really would. Do you think that Jesus could save me to the point where he would take away my cussing?’

“Dad then said, ‘Colonel, God is going to save you tonight and you’ll never cuss again.’ That night the Colonel genuinely received Christ into his heart. He was truly born again. He became a new creation in Jesus Christ. From that time on he never used the Lord’s name in vain.”

A few days after his conversion experience, the Colonel donated more than £15,000 to Pastor Rodgers’ church in Louisville, Kentucky – a major sum at the time.

The Colonel told the pastor: “Since I prayed the sinner’s prayer, things have completely changed in my life. I have not cussed even one time since then. It has really made a difference with me.

“I am getting ready to come into a large sum of money. I want to give the church the tithe.”

Dr Rodgers’ book also reveals how the Colonel experienced a supernatural healing when scheduled to have an operation on his colon to remove a growth. He was awaiting surgery in hospital when his pastor came to pray for him.

A day later, Sanders wrote: “I don’t need surgery. My pastor came in and prayed for me and God healed me.

“The doctor said, ‘Colonel, when I opened you up there weren’t any polyps.’”

The KFC founder continued to give generously to the church for years to come.

He later said: “My prayers have always been of thankfulness. God has been so good to me. I’ve been a great believer in tithing.

“The Bible says you owe 10%. I believe, even if you are a crook, you still owe 10% per cent to the Lord. Tithing is a great inspiration in my life.”

Just before his death at the age of 90 in 1980, he added: “I always figured there is no use being the richest man in the cemetery. You cannot operate from there.

“People don’t know that I gave most of my money away. Most of it goes to churches.”


  • In Britain alone, 114 million KFC hot wings are sold each year – that’s 3.6 every second
  • Colonel Sanders’ face appears in 17,000 towns and cities in 105 countries, making his restaurant one of the largest chains in the world
  • It all started when Sanders opened a service station in Corbin, Kentucky, and cooked dishes such as country ham and steaks. He served customers from his adjacent home
  • As his popularity in the region grew the business moved to a restaurant where he developed his ‘secret recipe’ for fried chicken
  • He was made an honorary Colonel in 1935 by Governor Ruby Laffoon
  • By 1950, Sanders’ appearance became a distinctive part of his character, with his trademark moustache, goatee and white suit and tie
  • The first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise opened in Utah in 1952 and the company quickly boomed, so much so that the ageing Sanders couldn’t manage its growth
  • He duly sold the firm for £1.5 million in 1964 to a group of Kentucky businessmen but remained a goodwill ambassador of the company until his death in 1980. His image has remained an important part of KFC’s branding and advertisement ever since

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