We always thought that Colonel Harland Sanders was a cook, businessman, and military colonel. But as it turns out, Colonel Sanders wasn’t a real colonel at all. Despite feeling bamboozled, we’ll probably still continue to eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken.
He served in the military
Despite not being a real colonel, Harland Sanders did have a brief stint in the United States Army. Harland Sanders was born on September 9, 1890, in Henryville, Indiana. In 1906, when he was 16 years old, Sanders enlisted in the United States Army. He was too young to be in the Army, but Sanders had falsified his date of birth when enlisting.
Sanders was sent to Cuba but only served in the Army for three months. He was honorably discharged in February 1907. Although he wasn’t a colonel, Harland Sanders was probably an Army private.
Colonel Sanders probably didn’t have any super exciting military stories because he was an Army private for such a short period of time. He did, however, once shoot a business rival for painting over his advertising signs.
How did he get the title ‘Colonel’?
When Harland Sanders was 40 years old, he made his way to Corbin, Kentucky, working at a Shell service station. It was typical that hungry motorists passing through his service station would ask Sanders for food recommendations. Sanders realized that he could provide nourishment for these hungry travelers.
Initially, Sanders didn’t have a restaurant, so hungry travelers would eat at his kitchen table with his family. Word quickly spread about Sanders’ dinners, and people began traveling far and wide to get his famous “Sunday Dinners.”
In 1935, Ruby Laffon, the governor of Kentucky, bestowed the title of Colonel to Harland Sanders “in recognition of his contributions to the state’s cuisine.”
What is a Kentucky Colonel?
Despite not being a military colonel, being named a Kentucky Colonel is still a huge honor. It is the highest title of honor bestowed on an individual by the Governor of Kentucky. It’s given in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments in the state.
Colonel Sanders is not the only individual to be given a Kentucky Colonel title. Muhammad Ali, Princess Anne, Fred Astaire, Walt Disney, and Josh Hutcherson have all been named Kentucky Colonels.
Sanders is really the only one in the group who has used the title as a part of his name. After being bestowed the title in 1935, he was referred to primarily as “Colonel Sanders.”
Colonel Sanders technically was a colonel twice over. In 1950, after losing his original colonel certificate, Governor Lawrence Weatherby decided to re-commission Harland Sanders as a colonel.