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Harland Sanders Museum & Café

Photo: Kentucky Dept. of Tourism
Photo: Kentucky Dept. of Tourism
Photo: Kentucky Dept. of Tourism

They are the most famous 11 herbs and spices in the world. Never mind that only a select few know which herbs and spices they actually are. When a gent named Harland Sanders mixed them up in the 1940s and rolled chicken through them, he fried his way to foodie fame.

The place where it all began is a restaurant in Corbin, now called the Harland Sanders Museum & Café. On the National Register of Historic Places, it pays tribute to arguably the world’s most famous colonel and his equally famous KFC secret recipe chicken—to say nothing of his marketing brilliance.

Sanders was a late bloomer who began his fried chicken business at an age when many retire. He initially served meals to travelers in the back of a service station, and then from a 142-seat restaurant, and finally from a restaurant-motel complex, which he operated from 1940 to 1956. He notably placed a model of a motel room in the café to promote his clean and comfy Sanders Court and Café—and visitors today can see this piece of KFC history.

“He put the model in the ladies restroom so they could see how clean it was,” explains store manager Dennis Overbey, who has worked at this location for 42 years. Overbey says Colonel Sanders’ legacy resonates with people worldwide who are intrigued by his story and where it all began.

“They wonder about the motel room and what it has to do with KFC,” he says. “They look at the old advertisements to see how cheap the prices were back when he first opened. A 21-piece chicken was $4.95. Now, it’s 20 pieces and it’s $30.99.”

The favorite photo op? Taking selfies and group snaps on the bench dominated by a life-size Colonel Sanders.

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