In some countries, being a colonel is the highest honor a military official can receive, so it makes you wonder, was KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders really a colonel?
The answer is yes, and no.
No, in the sense that he wasn’t a colonel in the way you’re thinking about.
While Sanders was in the military, there’s no cool backstory about him fighting in World War II, becoming a colonel, coming home and taking over the fried chicken world. He did, however, join the army in 1906, served in Cuba for a few months, got honorably discharged, and was never a colonel during his time served.
Yes, he was technically a colonel though, as in 1935, Kentucky Governor Ruby Laffoon named Sanders an honorary colonel for making kick-ass chicken. In 1949, Sanders was again appointed an honorary colonel, and pretty much just said, “I guess I’m a colonel now.”
As KFC grew, Sanders ran with the gimmick, donning a fancy white military-style suit, growing out his beard, and even dying it white.
So yeah, Colonel Sanders was actually an honorary colonel, but in the same way that Will Ferrell is now an honorary doctor. You probably wouldn’t want Ferrell operating on you, and you probably would’t want Sanders leading your military squad into battle.