One of the many things that makes Kentucky Fried Chicken unique in fast food history is that its growth as a powerhouse franchise was not quite as direct as, say, McDonald’s. For one thing, the chain began not as a dedicated franchise location but rather as a menu of items out of a regular restaurant. In this case, KFC was essentially born in a pair of motels/restaurants in Asheville, North Carolina and Corbin, Kentucky. Colonel Harland Sanders, who owned both in the 1930s, rebuilt his Corbin location as a motel with a 140-seat restaurant after a fire struck in late 1939.
Here is a June 1940 newspaper ad for the Sanders Court & Café, published in the Asheville Citizen Times. Note how there is no reference to chicken:
The first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise opened on September 24, 1952 in Salt Lake City, Utah. But in the first several years of KFC’s franchise operations, it was not comprised solely of standalone buildings. Rather, what happened was that Col. Sanders licensed the right to sell chicken with the KFC brand and recipe to individual restaurants. Here are a few examples of how that looked in advertisements, starting with a March 1955 ad for the Ross Inn in the Cumberland, Indiana area. Take note of the first nationwide KFC logo:
Come meet Colonel Sanders!
Here’s a 1956 ad for The Huddle restaurant with some wonderful ad copy featuring “The Story of Kentucky Fried Chicken” from Lafayette, Indiana:
And here’s a 1958 Tillman’s Plaza ad featuring KFC’s famous tagline, “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good”:
Lastly, here’s a slightly grainy but great 1957 ad from KFC ground zero — Salt Lake City. It’s one of the first ads I’ve seen to prominently feature one of the iconic brand elements of KFC, the striped bucket. The Harman Cafe was owend by Pete Harman, who was the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisee. Harman worked with Colonel Sanders to develop and prepare the KFC system for franchising, working to develop training manuals and product guides. His other claims to fame are the development of the bucket packaging and the emphasis on the “Finger-lickin’ good” motto.
In past ad galleries I’ve typically stuck with a particular theme or product, such as holiday-themed ads or new car lineups. I’m going to try something new and product an ad gallery from a single year, covering a wide range or products and services. Basically, a sort of visual shorthand to see what someone would’ve seen in print or TV ads in a particular year. Think of this as a virtual department store of sorts.
For the first edition I thought I’d travel back exactly 50 years to 1967. Let’s browse!
1967 Chevrolet Chevelle
The Dirty Dozen
“Purple Haze” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience
Food and Beverage
Nabisco Snack Mate
Health and Beauty
One-Step Floor Care
Hawaii via Pan Am and American Airlines
I don’t know about you, but there comes a point when convenience goes too far, and things just get weird. Case in point: This 1950 advertisement for Swift’s Premium Canned Hamburgers, which purports to “take the labor out of the Labor Day Week End.”
But hey, as gross as the prospect of eating preformed meat out of a can may be, at least you can send in that coupon and get a sweet sandwich toaster for just 50 cents!
Happy Father’s Day from The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and from the fine people who bring you Edgeworth Pipe Tobacco!
- It’s Dad who tends the furnace, it’s Dad who mows the law,
- And it’s Dad who pushes off to work before the crack o’ dawn…
- It’s Dad who carries bundles. And it’s Dad who has to pay,
- Let’s give Dad the FINEST! for his pipe on FATHER’S DAY!
For this third installment of vintage billboard photos, I have a gallery of roadside advertisements for local news broadcasts. Just about all of these date from the 1970s and ’80s, and include ads for news broadcasts as well as local weather and sports teams.
All images courtesy Duke University’s Digital Collections site. Click for a larger version.
WLNE – New Bedford, Massachusetts – Providence, Rhode Island
WWOR – Secaucus, New Jersey
KPAZ – Phoenix, Arizona
WTLV – Jacksonville, Florida
KOOL – Phoenix, Arizona
News 12 (city unknown)
KPNX – Mesa/Phoenix, Arizona
KCOX – San Diego, California
KTVK – Phoenix, Arizona
WDSU – New Orleans, Louisiana