Who doesn’t love some good old greasy fried chicken? Well maybe vegetarians, vegans and people who are watching their weight are not so much fans of this crispy fried death. When I was a youngster, my Grandma Salyers was an amazing cook and made lots of great southern style meals complete with collared greens, green beans with salt pork, fried green tomatoes, green onions and of course fried chicken! I loved eating at my Grandma’s house as her home cooking could not be beat and her fried chicken was at the top of my request list next to her homemade chicken or beef noodles and fried green tomatoes. One of the best parts about the meals also was that all the veggies were picked from their garden. Man, I miss those days and more importantly miss my grandparents who sadly both have passed away. The theme of this update is fried chicken and one man, who along with 11 herb and spices made a recipe that took the United States by storm and gave us the fast food restaurant called Kentucky Fried Chicken. That man is Colonel Sanders! So let’s order a bucket of chicken with some mashed potatoes and gravy and some biscuits with honey and talk about this Kentucky icon.
Harland David Sanders was born on September 9, 1890 in a small house near Henryville, Indiana and was the oldest of three children. He grew up going to church and enjoying a good farm family environment, but things got a little rougher when his father passed away and his mother had to take a job. Harland was forced to act as his siblings’ caretaker, but at this young age he learned to make food and do some creative things with meats, breads and vegetables. At the age of 10, he also took a job as a farmhand for a to help out with money. In 1902, seven years after his father’s death, his mom re-married, and they all moved to Greenwood, Indiana. Harland found himself at odds with his new stepdad, and this lead to him dropping out of school in the 7th grade and taking lots of jobs in the surrounding towns. At the age of 14, he moved away from his mother with her blessing and lived with his uncle in New Albany, Indiana to work as a steelcar conductor. In 1906 Harland joined the United States Army as a teamster and survived in Cuba until being honorably discharged in 1907 as he lied about is age. He then moved to Alabama where another of his uncles lived and worked for the railway as a blacksmith’s helper and later cleaned ash pans of trains, and at 16 he became a steam engine stoker. While working for the railway of Alabama, he meet Josephine King who he would marry and have one son and two daughters with. Sadly his son Harland Jr. passed away very young from infected tonsils.
The Sanders family would next move to Jackson, Tennessee as Harland took a job for the Ilinois Central Railroad as steam engine stoker and studied law at night via La Salle Extension University. Harland lost his job at the railway when he got into a a brawl with a fellow worker. He found work at another railway company and his law work came to an end when he once more got into a brawl with his own client in court! Harland and his family had a rough time as he floated from job to job and even was fired from selling life insurance for insubordination. Things turned around for him in 1920 when he established a ferry boat company on the Ohio River that operated from Jeffersonville and Louisville. In 1922, he took the job of Chamber of Commerce in Columbus, Indiana but was not very good at the job and left his post less than a year into it. Sanders made a boneheaded move when he sold off his shares in the ferry boat company to open an acetylene lamp manufacturing plant that failed after Delco sold electric lamps on credit. Sanders moved to Winchester, Kentucky to work as a sales person for Michelin Tires but once more was let go after one of their manufacturing plants closed. He then went on to work at a Standard Oil Gas Station as a manager, but it closed during the great depression in 1930 leaving him once more jobless.
But his luck would once more save him as Shell offered him a service station in North Corbin, Kentucky rent free as long as they shared a percentage of sales with them! Sanders started to make good home cooked meals that he would sell at the station like country ham and steaks as well as chicken and would later attach a restaurant to the gas station which became a huge hit with visitors. Sanders did have his enimies at this time as Matt Stewart owned a rival station, and a fight over a street sign lead to Stewart shooting and killing a Shell Oil official and being convicted of murder, eliminating his only competition. In 1935 Kentucky Governor Ruby Laffoon commissioned Sanders as a Kenticky Colonel as his popularity and reputation of serving great food grew and grew. Over the years Sanders opened more restaurants that were also attached to hotels and motels and would do his part to help during Word War II and the gas shortage. In 1947, Harland divorced Josephine and married his mistress for many years Claudia Ledington-Price in 1949. By this time he had also perfected his fried chicken that was the talk of the town as his 11 secret herbs and spices as well as his style of cooking the chicken became a signature flavor. By 1952, Sanders allowed his “Kentucky Fried Chicken” meals to be franchised to a man named Pete Harman of South Salt Lake, Utah. Pete saw his sales triple, all of it coming from the fried chicken! A fun little fact is that Don Anderson, a sign painter hired by Pete, came up with the name Kentucky Fried Chicken as he used the term to draw people into his restaurant in Utah as the customers loved the southern sound and style of this tasty chicken. Plus, Sanders made .04 off each chicken sold at this location.
But by the age of 65 Sanders sold his restaurant, and he and his wife Claudia opened a new restaurant and headquarters in 1959. Sanders would travel around to places and try to sell the franchise rights to his friend chicken. This would include him making a batch of his famous chicken and having workers eat it, and when they liked it he would work out a deal with the owners on the price of the deal. This was the birth of the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fast food restaurants that are still going strong to this day. Sanders would later just sell all the US rights to the chicken concept but retained the rights in Canada and Englund and would remain the spokesman and mascot for the fast food joint to this day. But Sanders and KFC had feuds over the years as both have slung lawsuits at each other over all types of things such as bad mouthing gravy all the way to misusing Sanders’ image on products. Sadly Sanders’ time came to an end as on December 16 1980 he died of leukemia at the age of 90, but his legacy and chicken still lives on to this day.
Colonel Sanders was known for his white suit, classic southern black bow tie as well as his white goatee. But here are some weird a fun things you might not know about Sanders: at first he treated the whole Kentucky Colonel thing as a joke but later would take it seriously. He was a foul mouthed man when it came to food quality and would visit KFC restaurants in the 70’s and if the meal did not live up to his standards he would cuss and shove the food to the floor! He used his own stock holdings to create the Colonel Sanders trust as well as Colonel Harland Sanders Charitable Organization that were used to aid charities as well as scholarships. Japan’s Hanshin Tigers baseball team has an urban legend called “Curse of the Colonel” that has them performing poorly after some fans in 1985 tossed a statue of Colonel Sanders into a river that lead to the statue being lost. In 2011 in KFC’s archives, a manuscript was found written by Colonel Sanders that had recipes as well as life lessons. They claimed that they were going to try some of these recipes and put the 200 page writings online but to my knowledge they never did. Lee Cummings, the nephew of Colonel Sanders traveled around with his uncle selling the 11 Herd and Spices as well as pressure cookers in 1952 to franchises, and in 1966 Lee made his own recipe that he called his “Famous Recipe.” He is the creator of the chicken restaurant known as “Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken,” one of KFC’s big competitors in the fast food chicken world.
Growing up my parents were not fried chicken eaters, and we would get KFC only time to time as my Dad always thought the buckets cost too much. As I stated before, most of the time we did have it was at my grandparents’ house as my parents would get a big old bucket so my grandma didn’t have to cook as she and my grandpa were big chicken eaters. As I got older, my brother had a KFC kick, and he and I used to go out to eat. Most of the time he chose between Taco Bell and KFC, and now I think he enjoys eating Lee’s more than KFC. At work we seem to eat KFC pretty often as Todd The Fox loves himself some fried chicken or a famous bowl, and Garrison Kane loves his double down sandwich. For those who don’t know what a double down is, it’s two chicken patties that act as the bun to some bacon and cheese…yeah it’s an artery clogger for sure. When I eat at KFC this is my standard order: 3 piece dark meat meal with mash potatoes and green beans with water to drink. So what do you enjoy eating at KFC?
I covered KFC’s birth above, so I figured I would skip the huge history lesson on KFC and what big company owns them and how many times it’s been sold and such and decided to instead cover the classic KFC Commercials that use to air on broadcast TV and can now be found on Youtube. It’s really cool to see these classic commercials from the late 60’s and 70’s and watch Harland Sanders in his white suit and cane prepare chicken or watch cooks make chicken, all the while the catch phrase “It’s Finger Licking Good” is said to highlight just how good the chicken at Kentucky Fried Chicken is thanks to the secret recipe. Also, you can see commercials from the 80’s. 90’s and even the modern stuff with the “fake” Colonel Sanders…we will get into those a little later in the update. It’s really crazy to think that while other fast food joints had more colorful mascots like Ronald McDonald for McDonalds, The Magical Burger King for Burger King and The Noid for Dominos Pizza to name a few, KFC more played up Colonel Sanders, a Southern gentleman who lived the American Dream. So if you’re bored and have a few minutes to kill, check out these commercials on Youtube and learn why the chicken is finger licking good as well as how you can get buckets of chicken to go for that after church dinner!
Over the years besides the two comics we will be diving into on this update, many other great merchandise has been made based around Colonel Sanders that includes Halloween costumes, penny banks, PVC kids meal figures, hand puppets, clocks, t-shirts, vinyl records, bobble head, a Let’s Play At Kentucky Fried Chicken playset and statues to name a few. It’s great to see Colonel Sanders live on with lots of these collectable items, and while I don’t own any of these things besides the comics I have mentioned above I have seen the penny banks at many antique stores and have thought about buying one many times. So if you’re a collector of fast food mascots or just love KFC, you might want to try and track down some of these collectibles for your own collection.
With the original Colonel Sanders passing away in 1980, KFC thought of other ways to use his image like in the late 90’s they had an animated version who was cartoony in nature and was voiced by actor Randy Quaid. In 2015, we had two actors playing the “role” of Colonel Sanders, both former Saturday Night Live actors. The first was played by Darrell Hammond, who had a touch of creepy to his portrayal. This caused a huge backlash on social media from people who found it disrespectful to turn a classy gentlemen into a giggling chicken obsessed freak. I for one enjoyed the silly nature of Hammond’s version of Sanders, and it’s a shame they fired him from the role. During Hammond’s commercials he would sing little songs about fried chicken like “Chicken In The Bucket, Chicken In The Beans” or the classic about the $5.00 Fill Up Meal in which he explains that you not only get taters and gravy but also a big ol cookie! Norm Macdonald took over the role of Sanders and plays him more straight laced, but no matter how much or is it how little he tries, he just sounds like the Norm Macdonald we all grew to love while he was on SNL. During his commercials, Norm also explains that Hammond was an imposter trying to act as if he was the real Colonel Sanders. So will these three be the last to play the gone but not forgotten Colonel of Fried Chicken? Only time will tell. I should also note that it’s nice to see them at least use Colonel Sanders again as sometime in the 2000’s I can remember them wanting to drop his image from their marketing and wanted to embrace the KFC name and phase out that it stood for Kentucky Fried Chicken as health food nuts of the net went on a smear campaign against fast food joints.
For this update, co-workers Stephen Alexander, Garrison Kane and I ordered some food form our nearby KFC, and I wanted to break the meal down and give each food item a grade like on a report card! I ordered a 3 piece meal dark meat (leg, thigh, thigh) with mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans and a lemonade to drink. The meal cost about $8.50, and let’s see if it was worth it! Let’s start with the sides, the green beans were fantastic and had a nice mix of diced onions mixed in, and the flavor was really good. I would get them a B+! The mashed potatoes and gravy were okay. The potatoes tasted great, but the gravy was so-so. I would give them a grade of C. The biscuit was dry and tasteless, and I only ate a small part of it before I gave it to Stephen; I would give it a D. The lemonade was really good and tasted freshly made so I would give it a solid A! The main event was the chicken, and man it was dry. The chicken leg was so small and dry, it was a waste of frying! The two thighs the meal came with were a little more meaty but tasted kind of bland, and I had to use the Finger Licken Good Sauce to make it pop with flavor. I would give the chicken a C – as it was not great but not total garbage. Over all, it was an average meal from KFC that did its job of filling my tummy on a long day of work.
Speaking of eating chicken, while working on this update I thought of yet another idea for a comic book that I would like to see made and that’s one based on a Troma Movie that has a metal teethed maniac who bites the heads off chickens, murders people and can only speak with clucks…that’s right, I am talking about Luther The Geek! This 1990 film was directed by Carlton J. Albright and was about a man named Luther Watts who as a child got his teeth knocked out while at a freak showing watching a geek eat the head off a live chicken. He had his missing teeth replaced with steel ones and became crazed and craved human flesh. After being in prison for twenty years, he is paroled and sets back out biting people’s necks in order to taste their blood, and sadly for Hilary and her daughter Beth, their farmhouse becomes a nightmare as Luther comes to roost. I should also mention Luther does not talk but clucks and crows like a rooster! Luther kills anyone foolish enough to get in his way as his thirst for blood knows no bounds and no age, gender or race is safe from his metal teeth of death. I first saw this film on VHS when my Brother and I rented it from K&L Video, and from that moment on, it became a film that I enjoyed for its over the top nature and creepy killer. I also want to mention that Stacy Haiduk, who played Beth, is a stunning raven haired beauty in this movie and is also helped fuel my like for this film as she has a great shower scene! My idea to make this into a comic would take place after the events of the movie and have Hilary being insane and locked up in an asylum, but little does she know that the body of Luther is missing and he is on the hunt for his “hen” as he thinks that she is now his mate! When Luther sets the crazies of the asylum free to run the nut house, Hilary must gain her wits back in order to survive as Luther is on the prowl and hungry for human blood and flesh. The best part of this comic idea is that Luther, while in the Asylum would also be attacking other inmates as he does not understand friendship. I would also throw in the original geek that inspired him to become one, who would be really old and the end would have the two fighting over Hilary like two roosters. I would love to see Troma make this comic themselves, and if not them, then I would say Blood Shed. From my friends, I think Bruce O’Hughes or Jason Young would do fantastic work making it come alive. Who knows maybe one day this comic idea will come alive!
With all this fried chicken talk, I am sure many of you readers are craving some KFC or some sort of other chicken restaurant like Lee’s, Churches or Popeyes so I am now going to bring out the main course of this review, the comics based on Colonel Sanders! One of them was made by KFC themselves, while the other was made by DC Comics and has Sanders teaming up with The Flash and Green Lantern to stop bogus chicken from being served trying to ruin KFC’s good name. I want to thank both Amazon and Ebay for having these comics in stock and I need to remind you that I grade these comics on a 1-4 star ranking and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So let’s bring out a 500pc bucket of Chicken and get looking at the comic adventures of Colonel Sanders!
Colonel’s Adventure # 1 **1/2
Released in 2015 Cover Price FREE KFC # 1 of ???
Colonel Sanders is sitting on a stool and decides to share his life story with the readers. He explains about his childhood, from losing his father at the age of 5 to cooking meals for his siblings when he was only 7. He goes on to tell of his teen years lying about his age and joining the army where he was stationed in Cuba to watch after the donkeys. He then tells of his time working for the railroad as well as later opening and selling a boat company on the Ohio River and losing his money when putting it all into gas lamps. This issue ends with Sanders opening his gas station and restaurant and having a shoot out with his rival who had been painting over his sign, that left one man dead, his rival wounded and sent to jail and Sanders still alive and kicking ready to make some chicken!
This promo comic is fast and straight to the point and is 100% a marketing tool to show the weird and wild life Colonel Sanders lived before and during making his world famous chicken. The story is basic and nothing is really fleshed out as each life event and milestone for him is summed up in a panel or two, and no names are used besides his own. The one nice thing is also you get a mini history lesson as they give you the dates when the phone, jazz music and electric lamps all came into culture during his lifetime. Some things I didn’t know were that he had a terrible car wreck on a bridge when he was selling tires and was lucky to be alive and that he spent time also delivering babies! Also, the father of a new born baby in this comic looks a lot like Don Knotts! The bottom of each page as a tiny adventure of Colonel Sanders going on, and at one point he runs into The Incredible Hulk. Yeah, how weird is that?! The art in the comic is pretty good but has a kind of souless digital look to it and was done by Dan Burke. The cover is pretty kick butt and makes Colonel Sanders look like The Lone Ranger! Over all, this is a cheesy quick read comic used to make one learn and respect Colonel Sanders. Check out some artwork from this comic below.
Now let’s get onto the next comic based on Sanders done by DC Comics that was given away at Comic Con and features some famous superheroes and villains.
Colonel Of Two Worlds # 1 **1/2
Released in 2015 Cover Price FREE DC Comics # 1 of 1
Captain Cold and Mirror Master are sick and tired of being on the losing end of fights with The Flash, and they decide to join forces with Colonel Sunder who came from another dimension called Earth-3. They open a restaurant called Easy Fried Chicken where henchmen go out and rob people to get money to open more of these lousy fried chicken joints, while Mirror Master and Captain Cold serve lousy food for cheap prices to customers. The Flash and Green Lantern stop a bank robbery, and The Flash goes to look into Easy Chicken as crime has went up when they moved into town. As he is about to enter, he runs into Colonel Sanders who is pissed off about this fake looking Colonel making chicken the easy way when the world knows it tastes better when you do it the hard way! Colonel Sanders confronts Sunders, and the pair fight as Sanders mops the ground with not only Sunders, who is using a pink slime gun, but also his henchmen. All the while, Captain Cold and Mirror Master watch in shock as their hope to be crimelords is tossed back into a portal that leads him to Earth-3 where he belongs! In the end The Flash and Green Lantern visit Colonel Sanders at KFC and find out that both Mirror Master and Captain Cold are working there as part of community service as Sanders has taught them that working hard is better than the easy way.
This comic is as silly as the description above sounds. First off, the plot is about another world Colonel Sanders coming to our world and trying to make cheap gross fried chicken restaurants as his way to take over the world and rip people off of money. Along for the ride are two of The Flash’s top bad guys who are forced to work in this gross fast food restaurant as they think this will lead them to world domination! And the kicker is that the real Colonel Sanders is the one who kicks butt as the superheroes just watch in amazement and later offer Sanders a seat in the JLA…yeah, this is truly a strange take of crispy strange goodness. Colonel Sanders is so heated up when he finds out someone looking like him is selling gross friend chicken that he marches down to his restaurant knocks The Flash out of his way and starts to rumble with anyone who stands in his way! Colonel Sanders in this issue is a badass and by the looks of it could have gone toe to toe with Doomsday if he was selling chicken that was not of high standards. While they do stop a robbery, the Flash and Green Lantern are clearly just background players in this silly game of chicken. Colonel Sunder is a black suit wearing lazy Sanders look alike who on Earth-3 is the king of poultry but here is just a no good thief who sells gross food and is such a bum that he won’t even lift a finger to take over the world. I do like how he uses guns that shoot chicken nuggets as well as pink meat slime! Captain Cold and Mirror Master as well just take backseat roles, but they do take a strange role in the end as both work for KFC and seem to enjoy doing so! It also makes the pair of baddies aware that they are looked at as a joke when it comes to super villains. The cover is amazing as it shows the two Sanders clashing as the DC characters watch on in amazement. The art inside looks like most of your modern DC issues and is done by Tom Derenick. While not my favorite style of art, it works well for this promo comic. Man, they should have had Colonel Sanders join the JLA as I would have loved to seen him beat The Joker to death with his cane or even uppercut Darkseid through a window as this issue makes Sanders out to be a ticking timebomb of pride that, if pushed, nothing can stop! Check out a piece of art from the comic below, and if you like weird promo comics featuring mainstream heroes, then make sure to add this to your must-read list!
I hope you enjoyed this deep fried look at Colonel Sanders and his chicken. It was a fun one to write as I always like talking and researching mascots for fast food restaurants. But while many of you might think that KFC’s greasy chicken is scary, our next update will be about that famed haunted house in New York that spawned many movies, books, theories and yes, even a comic. That’,s right be prepared to be scared as we look into The Amityville Horror! So get your nerve of steel as we will enter the house and expose the curse, but until then, read a comic or three, support your local Horror Host and enjoy some fried chicken if you eat meat!