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7 Facts About The Wild Life Of Colonel Sanders

We all know the smiling white-haired colonel who stars in KFC's ads, but how much do you actually know about the man who made his secret recipe for fried chicken famous around the world?

It turns out Colonel Harland Sanders lead a very exciting life, which included a few headline-grabbing disagreements with the company that still uses his likeness as their mascot to this day.

1. Sanders worked a lot of odd jobs

Sanders' first restaurant was the Sanders Cafe attached to a gas station he owned, but before that he changed careers a lot - either because he was a bad businessman or because he loved to start fights. He began his career as a lawyer, but quit after a fight with a client. Then he sold insurance, lamps, tires, he worked as a ferry driver and even a midwife for a short time.

2. He was known for his temper

Sanders would fight with anyone who got on his bad side, and even had a deadly shootout with a rival gas station owner. Sanders and the other owner had been painting over each other's road signs to steal business. When Sanders and some employees caught him in the act, one of the men on Sanders' side was killed, and the Colonel wound up shooting his rival in the arm.

The site of Sanders' original gas station and restaurant.Maurine Hume / Pinterest

3. He's not a military colonel

Readers from outside the state of Kentucky may be surprised to learn that the state's highest honorary title is "colonel," which Sanders earned for running his restaurant and gas station. He actually was made a colonel twice, because he lost the original certificate. In fact Sanders did join the army as a young man, but never climbed the ranks.

4. He didn't invent the KFC bucket

In fact another fast food giant did: Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's. Thomas owned a number of KFC franchises before starting his own company, and came up with the idea of a giant rotating bucket of chicken to entice customers. The bucket has since become a symbol of the company, and they all stopped turning as a sort of "moment of silence" when Sanders died in 1980.

Colonel Sanders with Dave Thomas and his wife.Wendy's

Click to the next page to learn why the 11 herbs and spices aren't really the Colonel's recipe!

5. The Colonel is haunting a Japanese baseball team

To celebrate big victory in 1985, fans of Japan's Hanshin Tigers baseball team threw a statue of the Colonel into the Osaka river. (In Japan, every KFC restaurant has a statue of the Colonel out front). The team hasn't won the championship since the Colonel was dunked, even though the statue was pulled out of the river in 2009 and put on display for good luck.

The Colonel's statue, after it was pulled out of the river.TypeHost

6. Selling KFC didn't make him rich

Sanders sold the business in 1964 when there were a handful of franchises and stayed on as a spokesperson. Of course the company only became more and more popular, but Sanders never saw a fair share of the profits. He even tried to sue the company for hundreds of millions of dollars in the 1970s, but settle out of court for just $1 million.

The Colonel spent his golden years visiting KFC franchises.Courier-Journal

7. He claims KFC changed his recipe

KFC claims that the Colonel's original handwritten recipe is still used, including his original blend of 11 herbs and spices, but before he died the Colonel insisted they had changed his recipe. He actually reached out to Marion-Kay spices to recreate his blend, which they still sell as "99X" spice blend.

Meanwhile, in an interview from 1970 the Colonel said that KFC's world-famous gravy "ain’t fit for my dogs." Harsh!

Share these facts if you love KFC!

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