The Reason Colonel Sanders Once Tried To Compete With KFC

Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (now known as KFC), is the man behind this chicken fast food empire. Mr. Sanders didn't have an easy life, and it took him lots of trial and error before he came up with the delectable and secret fried chicken recipe that is still used today, per Uproxx. And although there had been many attempts to figure out the exact measurements and spices used for the fried chicken, the recipe had long been under lock and key. 

Success didn't come easy to the Colonel, and during the years of getting his fried chicken restaurant off the ground, he had plenty of setbacks, including a major highway in Kentucky that deterred traffic away from his original restaurant location and cost him a lot in profits. This unfortunate incident would inspire him to eventually come up with the idea of franchising KFC and would be a blessing in disguise, per Uproxx.

Mr. Sanders was successful and earned plenty of profits from franchising. So it may seem strange that after selling KFC, but still working as a brand ambassador for the last 20 years of his life (per Mental Floss), that he would end up competing with the very chain he created.

Why Colonel Sanders opened another restaurant

As KFC grew and grew and opened numerous locations, the recipes for the fried chicken and gravy changed from Sanders' originals in order to standardize them. KFC's corporate office wanted to ensure that employees could recreate the same recipes from one location to another without discrepancies, according to the New Yorker. It was said that the Colonel's gravy recipe in particular was labor intensive and time-consuming, which posed issues for potential differences between restaurants as well as additional labor costs, per the article.

But the Colonel didn't agree, and even went as far as to say — in the company of a critic who was working for The New York Times — that "this is the worst fried chicken I've ever seen," while the two were dining at a New York location, according to Mental Floss.

Discovering that the chicken was a far cry from what he created that originally launched the KFC empire, it encouraged the Colonel to open another restaurant that would compete with the chain. He called it, "Claudia Sanders, The Colonel's Lady," the name of his new wife at the time, per Uproxx. Naturally, KFC was not happy with his decision to deliberately open a competing restaurant and sued Mr. Sanders for a hefty $120 million. In the end, both parties settled out of court for a lower yet substantial sum of $1 million, and Mr. Sanders sold the spot, according to Uproxx. Interestingly enough, the restaurant is still open and operating with the name Claudia Sanders Diner House in Shelbyville, Kentucky.