Thought Catalog
February 17, 2015

8 Things I Learned From The Autobiography Of Colonel Sanders

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Colonel Harland David Sanders gained fame as the founder of international restaurant chain Kentucky Fried Chicken — but there was much more to the man than just his passion for poultry. Here are eight facts about Colonel Sanders from his 1974 autobiography, Life As I Have Known It Has Been Finger Lickin’ Good.

Yes, that’s the real title. I promise I’m not making this up.

1. He married young.

Only nine pages after he mentions his birth, Sanders marries his first wife, Josephine King. The man obviously didn’t waste time. Either that, or he went through puberty at lightning speed.

2. He served his chicken with a side of whoopass.

Since his youth, the Colonel held no qualms about resorting to physical force when needed. While working for the Justice of the Peace Court, Sanders was arrested for attempted assault and battery, intending to pummel his own unruly client with a chair. On another occasion, the Colonel instigated a fight by throwing a handful of eggs at an unaccommodating short-order cook. Even the aftermath of a Double Down binge seems tolerable compared to Sanders’ wrath.

3. He had a sailor’s tongue.

The Colonel’s hostile nature went hand-in-hand with his tendency to curse. Throughout much of his life, Sanders spoke with a tongue spicier than his infamous “11 herbs and spices” — a habit he picked up while working on the railroads during his youth. From “KFC” to “s.o.b.,” the Colonel’s vocabulary was certainly varied.

4. He was selfless.

Despite his distasteful language, Harland Sanders was a generous and charitable man; he donated to churches, organized picnics, and spent his free time making ice cream for orphan children. Indeed, the Colonel always reached deep inside of his heart to find a way to help others.

5. He was a midwife.

He also reached deep inside of pregnant ladies to find babies. While acting as a county inspector for the Works Progress Administration, Sanders often assisted the pregnant wives of his workers during childbirth if they were unable to afford a doctor. With his lard bucket, shears, gauze, and Vaseline, Sanders was always equipped for the job. We can only hope he washed his hands before making the chicken. Fingerlickin’ good, am I right?

6. He almost kidnapped his own children.

Before he took up birthin’ babies, Sanders was busy trying to kidnap them. Shortly after the Colonel was fired from a job on the railroad, Josephine King took the children and left him. Longing to see his offspring, the Colonel “thought up a plan to kidnap them.” Sanders hid in the woods waiting for his children to play outside, but ended up approaching the house like a mentally sound human being.

Excusing this attempted abduction, Josephine reunited with the Colonel. Even so, Harland never forgot how she had forsaken him when their “love was young and tender,” like the juicy drumsticks and thighs in an eight piece bucket of KFC’s Original Recipe. Though Sanders remained dedicated to raising his family, he and Josephine divorced after spending thirty-nine years together.

7. He had high standards.

Colonel Sanders was always particular about the preparation of his chicken. When an iron plaque was erected in Corbin, Kentucky, to dedicate the founding of KFC, Sanders showed his sassy side by threatening to “put a log chain around this daggone marker and haul it out of the ground” if the city’s restaurant ever served food below his standards. Unfortunately, we will never know if Famous Bowls and Go Cups would meet his qualifications.

8. He was a religious man.

In his old age, the Colonel found new life through the church and committed himself to God. He concludes his autobiography by mentioning the miraculous healing of a colon polyp discovered when he visited the doctor for an impacted bowel — that means the chicken went in, but it didn’t come out. Sanders attributed his spontaneous recovery to a recent prayer session with his church pastor: “Last night a minister prayed that God would heal me. And He did.”

Bless the Lord for saving our Colonel. TC mark