Why Colonel Sanders Once Sued KFC For Over $100 Million

Fast food meals are noted for their convenient simplicity –- it's all in the name, after all. KFC undeniably excels at producing quick and easy snacks for people around the world, but its beginnings were anything but straightforward.

According to FundingUniverse, it took KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders decades before he was able to get the legendary firm off the ground. When he eventually did, he traveled over 200,000 miles a year to promote his exclusive fried chicken to excited franchisees. By 1963, he was earning $300,000 and had more that 600 franchisees in Canada and the United States.

The Colonel realized that the business was expanding so rapidly, it was becoming too much for him to handle. Thus, he made the decision to sell KFC, which was where his relationship problems with the brand began. Sanders started to bitterly disagree with the direction KFC was being taken in by its new owners. He launched public attacks against KFC and even decided to create a rival company, which resulted in an expensive lawsuit (via History).

Colonel Sanders caused a massive row with KFC's owner

Following the incredible success of his creation, Colonel Sanders' affection for KFC rapidly began to diminish, reports History. After the company was bought by Heublein in 1971, Sanders began to lambast KFC's gravy as "slop," describing the people running it as "a bunch of booze hounds."

In his and his wife's desire to continue serving Southern-style dishes, Sanders wanted to launch their new restaurant — Claudia Sanders, 'The Colonel's Lady' Dinner House — into a chain of franchises. However, as The New York Times explains, Sanders believed Heublein was deliberately interfering with his new restaurant ambitions, and consequently sued the corporation for $122 million. BuzzFeed News adds that KFC persistently objected to the venture, citing claims that it owned the rights to Sanders' name and even the word "colonel."

According to History, Sanders and Heublein settled out of court. The agreement stated that Sanders would receive $1 million and the opportunity to teach Heublein bosses how to cook. In return, Sanders had to promise to refrain from further public criticisms of KFC. And to this day, Claudia Sanders Dinner House continues to serve guests in Shelbyville, Kentucky.