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Duncan Hines and Harland Sanders, Food Pioneers

Almost everyone knows who Colonel Sanders is ... but not many know how he came to fame. It wasn’t just his “finger-lickin’ good” chicken that drummed up big business. In fact, another Kentucky food pioneer helped.

Duncan Hines, most often associated today with a line of cake mixes, was known as America’s first national restaurant critic. A Bowling Green native, Hines got his start as a traveling salesman, taking note of restaurants he thought were worth revisiting. In 1935, instead of sending traditional Christmas cards, Hines and his wife mailed out a list of nearly 200 recommended restaurants.

The list was so popular that it eventually led to a series of popular books. Years before Harland Sanders franchised his fried chicken business, his Corbin restaurant received a listing in Duncan Hines’ 1939 publication Adventures in Good Eating. The rest is culinary history.

For more on the rise of KFC, you can visit the Colonel Harland Sanders Museum at YUM! Brand headquarters. It’s located at 1441 Gardiner Lane in Louisville. Museum hours are 8:00 am-5:30 pm Monday-Thursday and 8:00 am-1:00 pm Friday.

A few side items:

  • Duncan Hines is remembered in his hometown each summer with the Duncan Hines Festival.
  • The Duncan Hines Scenic Byway begins at Hines’ Bowling Green home and winds through several small towns as well as Mammoth Cave National Park, crossing the Green River by ferry.
  • Harland Sanders didn’t start his franchise until age 65, using his $105 Social Security check. Until his death, the Colonel traveled 250,000 miles a year visiting outposts of the KFC empire he founded.
  • The Claudia Sanders Dinner House in Shelbyville is named for the Colonel’s wife and once served as the headquarters for Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  • Colonel Harland Sanders was inducted into the American Restaurant Hall of Fame in 1960. In 1976, an independent survey ranked the Colonel as the world’s second most recognizable celebrity.
  • KFC is petitioning the U.S. Postal Service to create a postage stamp in the Colonel’s honor. Visit KFC.com to learn how you can help.
Program 110
Louisville’s Jewish history, the American Printing House for the Blind, Kizito Cookies, and Cissy Musselman of Women 4 Women. (#110)