Harland David Sanders — better known as Colonel Sanders — the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken and their once omnipresent spokesperson, is a forgotten icon. At least that's what a new survey says: Over 60% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 couldn't identify him in the KFC logo. Even worse, 50% believe he's "made-up."
We got in touch with author, video maker, and fried chicken expert Josh Ozersky, who incidentally is writing a biography about Colonel Sanders (due out next fall), for some perspective. Here's what he had to say:
Colonel Sanders is as universal an icon as America has produced. Of all the major corporate symbols, he's the only one that was a real person, and that was what gave his image power. So it's sad on that account. And now that TV has ceased to universally bind Americans, even someone as recognizable as The Colonel no longer has a hold on the forever fractured American consciousness, and that sucks too.
It's one thing if a bewigged stuffed shirt like Washington goes unrecognized; he was called "the marble man" even while he was still alive for being such a pill. But Colonel Sanders? If he isn't recognized by these over-medicated tweens, who can be?
Kentucky Fried Chicken has had marketing/identity issues for a long time: from the health-conscious rebranding into KFC in 1991 to the recent gross-foods stunt that was the Double Down. Even the franchisees are in open revolt for "downplaying the chain's Southern fried image." And poor caretakers they have been of Colonel Sanders's image, resurrecting him in a pink suit or having him (just today! on his 120th birthday!) stand in the crowd on CBS' Early Show.
· KFC tries to revive founder Colonel Sanders' prestige [USA Today]
· All Josh Ozersky Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All KFC Coverage on Eater [-E-]
1969's Album "Christmas With Colonel Sanders [Photo: Bizarre Records]