Despite its name, the first Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchise opened on Sept. 24, 1952, in Salt Lake City, nearly 1,500 miles from Kentucky’s western border.
However, as expected, the famous restaurant chain’s roots are in the Bluegrass State despite its official start occurring a considerable distance from there. Colonel Sanders, KFC’s founder, was born in Henryville, Ind., just north of the Kentucky state border, before initially settling down in Kentucky for the first time in the 1920s, in his early 30s. Around the time that he turned 40, in 1930, Sanders started serving chicken and other types of food at a service station in North Corbin, Ky., which ended up becoming more and more popular in the coming years.
In 1951, he met Pete Harman in Chicago at the National Restaurant Association convention, and the two met up again a year later in Harman’s Utah home, which is where Sanders introduced his chicken recipe to him and his wife. He was hoping that they’d enjoy it so much that Harman would start serving it at his own place while giving Sanders a piece of the profit. The plan worked as it was quickly added to the menu.
However, Harman was unsure how to promote it. Don Anderson, a friend, said that since Sanders was from Kentucky and the food was fried chicken, they might as well call it, “Kentucky Fried Chicken,” so they did. Within days, lines of hungry admirers of the chicken grew to impressive lengths, and Sanders, upon seeing that, started considering selling his recipe to more people. This became a reality and soon an all-encompassing passion after he learned that the new Interstate 75, due to open in 1955, was going to bypass the North Corbin area and his Sanders Court & Café. He then sold that and his other properties and focused full-time on spreading his brand throughout the country and internationally.