He was a Kentucky Colonel, an honorary title given by the state of Kentucky.
While Harland Sanders wasn’t a military colonel, he did enlist in the U.S. Army when he was 16. He served in Cuba for three months before being honourably discharged.
In 1935, the governor of Kentucky awarded Sanders the title of Kentucky Colonel while he owned and operated Sanders Court and Cafe, the precursor to Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The commission of Kentucky Colonel is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Governor of Kentucky. It is recognition of an individual’s noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to our community, state, and nation.
In 1949, he was awarded the title again after he lost his official certificate, giving him the rare distinction of becoming a colonel twice over.
Through the 1950s, Colonel Sanders began franchising his business. He attached his name, his identity, and his honorary title to his brand, and if you want to see how that turned out, visit one of the 23,000 KFC outlets around the world.
Other famous Kentucky Colonels include Fred Astaire, Ansel Adams, George Clooney, Bing Crosby, Duncan Hines, Muhammad Ali, Ty Cobb, Jeff Foxworthy, Dave Thomas (founder of Wendy’s), all of the of Impractical Jokers, and the legendary Bruce Campbell.