How KFC Became The Biggest Fried Chicken Joint On The Planet

kfc fried chicken

Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Yum! Brands – the parent of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut – will report quarterly results this afternoon.Investors, analysts, and economist will follow the release very closely to see what they have to say about…China.

Yes, China.

KFC operates more than 17,000 stores worldwide. 3,700 of them are in the world’s second biggest economy.

Indeed, the KFC story is extraordinary.

KFC founder Harland Sanders wasn't born in Kentucky

Harland David Sanders was born in September 9, 1980 in Henryville, Indiana.

Source: Wikipedia

The Colonel served chicken for 10 years before he mastered his 11 herbs and spices

In 1930, Sanders opened his first restaurant, Sanders Court & Cafe, attached to a gas station. Over that decade Sander expanded and grew the business, before the original location was destroyed in a fire in 1939. Sanders rebuilds the restaurant and begins to franchise his recipe to other stores in 1952.

Source: KFC

While perfecting that recipe, Sanders was also at work to speed the time it took to cook chicken

Sanders, not satisfied with a 30 minute cook time, decided to tweak a new invention on the market: the pressure cooker. Sanders was able to cut that time down, and the company continues to pressure fry its chicken today.

Source: KFC

Restauranteur Pete Harman became the first franchisee. With Sanders, he opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken in South Salt Lake, Utah.

Source: KFC

If you're interested in opening a KFC, It will cost you at least $1.3 million

KFC estimates it costs between $1.3 million and $2.5 million to secure a location, build a KFC, buy the equipment, and purchase start-up inventory.

Source: KFC Franchise Requirements

The chicken didn't make into the iconic buckets until 1957

In 1957 Pete Harman, the owner of the first KFC franchised store, purchased the buckets from another owner who had bought them off of a travelling salesman and was unsure what to do with them. Harman said sales took off after advertising the meal, which had 14 pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy for $3.50.

Source: Cengage Learning

Dave Thomas was an important KFC employee before he went off to start Wendy's

In 1962, Dave Thomas was offered the opportunity to save a few KFC franchises in Columbus, Ohio. If he successfully turned them around, he would be rewarded with 45 per cent of the profits from the locations.

Thomas turned them around, by consolidating the menu and installing a sign that included a large revolving KFC bucket. With ownership stake acquired, Thomas sold back his shares to Sanders for a total of $1.5 million, with which he opened up his first Wendy's location in Columbus in 1969.

Source: Mental Floss

Kentucky Fried Chicken shortened its name to KFC for some reason

In 1991, Kentucky Fried Chicken officially changed its name to KFC. The reason has nothing to do with the myth of the chicken not being actual chicken, but rather had to do with saving money.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky trademarked their name in 1990, which meant that anyone using the word 'Kentucky' for business reasons would have to pay licensing fees to the state. Rather than pay the fees, the company opted to change its name simply to KFC.

Source: American Antiquities

Since its founding, KFC has doubled the number of locations it has every 3.9 years

KFC currently has more than 17,400 locations globally, Up from just one franchise in Salt Lake City in 1952. At that pace, the company has doubled its footprint every 3.93 years. It seems unlikely, but at that rapid clip, it would surpass 30,000 locations at the start of 2015.

This year, KFC plans to enter seven new countries in Africa and expects to generate $2 billion in sales from 1,200 KFCs across the continent in the next two years.

Source: Company Filings, Bloomberg

KFC stores can be found in 115 countries

KFC currently has full operations in 115 countries (the map at right was last updated in 2008).

Source: Company Filings

12 million people visit a KFC every day

Four million people head to a KFC in the U.S., every day. Globally, that figure jumps to 12 million.

Source: KFC

And they eat a lot

In the U.S., KFC customers eat 800 million biscuits, 100 million pounds of coleslaw, and 200 million pounds of mashed potatoes each year. And the company estimates it sells 1.8 billion pieces of chicken each year.

Source: KFC

KFC accounts for nearly 40% of the entire chicken fast food market

In 2011, data from NPD data showed that KFC accounted for 39 per cent the chicken fast-food market, doing more business than Church's and Popeye's combined.

Source: NPD/Crest, Company Filings

Today, the company is much more than just traditional chicken. There's chicken with spaghetti...

With such a large global footprint, KFC has modified its menu for local tastes and traditions. We've rounded up some of the oddest choices.

...and burgers with cheese tops...

...and the Cali Maki Twister with mangoes and cucumber...

Those options are tailored regionally because the U.S. is no longer KFC's biggest growth market

China is the company's real bread-and butter. While it operates the fewest stores in China compared to its two other divisions (International, which was recently split to breakout India, and U.S.), it generates the greatest sales and net income for Yum Brands.

As of year end 2011, KFC had 3,701 restaurants in China.

Source: Company Filings

Which began in 1987, when KFC was the first fast food company to enter China

After opening that first Chinese fast food shop in 1987 -- the very first fast food restaurant to enter China -- it has gone on to invest in local brands like Little Sheep.

This year, the company said it would take over the Little Sheep brand, one of the first successful takeovers of a Chinese brand.

Source: KFC

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