The Real Colonel Sanders

Over on HerKentucky's Facebook page today, we've been talking about Colonel Sanders.

I feel really strongly about this. Colonel Sanders was an actual person. From recent history. Every revamp just comes...

Posted by HerKentucky on Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Well, we've been talking about KFC's latest incarnations of Colonel Sanders.

You've probably seen those KFC ads with Darrell Hammond. They were pretty awful. And, now, he's been replaced by Norm MacDonald.

I'm not going to lie, I find the whole thing VERY creepy. Harland Sanders was a real, live person. He was born in Clark County Indiana in 1890. He lied about his age to join the U.S. Army. He worked on railroads and ferry boats and even practiced law for a while, until he got into a courtroom brawl with a client. Eventually, he settled in Corbin, KY, where he ran a Shell Gas Station and perfected his fried chicken recipe.

Of course, there are a whole lot of people in Southeastern Kentucky who make really good fried chicken. The reason that Colonel Sanders' image has graced a million paper chicken buckets instead of any of our Appalachian grandmothers is that he was a master of marketing. He embraced the iconic image of a Southern gentleman --- a Kentucky Colonel -- in a white suit and a string tie. He insisted on being called Colonel. And the image remained with KFC long after Sanders sold his operations, and even after he passed. 

Somehow, the stylized cartoon we've all seen a million times on KFC's logo seems okay. These salt and pepper shakers from Louisville Stoneware seem kind of adorable.

But hiring two guys -- irreverent comedians and non-Southerners at that -- to play someone who was alive during many Kentuckians' lifetime just seems disrespectful and in poor, poor taste. Colonel Sanders was a shrewd businessman, a first-class marketer, possibly a terrible lawyer, and a fine cook. But he was also an actual living person whose legacy deserves a little more than KFC is providing him.