Retrotisements: The Early Days of Kentucky Fried Chicken

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:

June 1940 newspaper ad for the Sanders Court & Café (Kentucky Fried 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:

March 1955 ad for the Ross Inn in the Cumberland, Indiana area, selling Kentucky Fried Chicken

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:

1956 Kentucky Fried Chicken ad

And here’s a 1958 Tillman’s Plaza ad featuring KFC’s famous tagline, “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good”:

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.

1957 Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)/Harman Cafe ad

Retrotisements — A Year in the Life (1967)

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!

Automobiles

1967 Chrysler ad

1967 Chrysler

1967 Chevrolet Chevelle ad

1967 Chevrolet Chevelle

Consumer Electronics

1967 Kodak Instamatic ad

Kodak Instamatic

1967 Westclox ad

Westclox

1967 Automatic Royal ad

Automatic Royal

Entertainment

The Dirty Dozen ad

The Dirty Dozen

1967 Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze ad

“Purple Haze” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience

Fashion

1967 Arrow ad

Arrow

1967 Career Club Shirts ad

Career Club

Food and Beverage

1967 Nabisco Snackmate ad

Nabisco Snack Mate

1967 Michelob ad

Michelob

1967 7Up ad

7Up

1967 Arby's ad

Arby’s

Health and Beauty

1967 Maybelline ad

Maybelline

1967 Alka-Seltzer ad

Alka-Seltzer

1967 Lustre Creme ad

Lustre Creme

Household Goods

1967 One-Step Floor Care ad

One-Step Floor Care

1967 Dash ad

Dash

1967 Admiral Duplex ad

Admiral Duplex

Travel

1967 Best Western ad

Best Western

Hawaii ad 1967

Hawaii via Pan Am and American Airlines

1967 Pan Am ad

Pan Am

 

For Labor Day, Enjoy Some Canned Hamburger!

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.”

1950 advertisement for Swift's Premium Canned Hamburgers

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!

For Father’s Day, Edgeworth Pipe Tobacco (1947)

Happy Father’s Day from The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and from the fine people who bring you Edgeworth Pipe Tobacco!

Edgeworth Pipe Tobacco (1947) Father's Day ad

  1. It’s Dad who tends the furnace, it’s Dad who mows the law,
  2. And it’s Dad who pushes off to work before the crack o’ dawn…
  3. It’s Dad who carries bundles. And it’s Dad who has to pay,
  4. Let’s give Dad the FINEST! for his pipe on FATHER’S DAY!

 

Ads from the Open Road, Volume 3: Local News Edition

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.

Vintage local news billboard, 1970s-1980s

WLNE – New Bedford, Massachusetts – Providence, Rhode Island

local-news-billboard-wor-1983

WWOR – Secaucus, New Jersey

Vintage local news billboard, 1970s-1980s

KPAZ – Phoenix, Arizona

Vintage local news billboard, 1970s-1980s

WTLV – Jacksonville, Florida

Vintage local news billboard, 1970s-1980s

KOOL – Phoenix, Arizona

Vintage local news billboard, 1970s-1980s

News 12 (city unknown)

Vintage local news billboard, 1970s-1980s

KPNX – Mesa/Phoenix, Arizona

Vintage local news billboard, 1970s-1980s

KCOX – San Diego, California

Vintage local news billboard, 1970s-1980s

KTVK – Phoenix, Arizona

Vintage local news billboard, 1970s-1980s, Dan Milham weather

WDSU – New Orleans, Louisiana