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Colonels of Truth (damninteresting.com)
85 points by ca98am79 on March 25, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 20 comments

Hey! I own my farm in Corbin, KY and my grandfather worked for the Colonel when he peddled chicken at the service/bus station. The "historic" Sanders' Cafe that exists there today is actually across the road from where the original once was.

If you're ever around Simpsonville, KY it's worth stopping by Claudia Sanders' Diner. It still cooks his original recipe, unlike KFC.

> It still cooks his original recipe, unlike KFC.

How does it compare?

I think it's much better. However, I also don't enjoy KFC chicken. I find it slimy and too saturated with grease.

> I find it slimy and too saturated with grease.

McDonald's used to fry their foods in a blend of coconut oil, tallow & lard. Then the charlatans pressured them into switching their fryers to biodiesel (aka Soybean oil). Now McDonald's french fries are soggy.

I expect KFC ruined their product in a similar manner.

IMHO the decline of western civilization began when KFC added cayenne pepper to the extra crispy. :-(

I have been reading Damn Interesting for over a decade now. It is one of the few unblemished places on the internet when it comes to well-written, fascinating articles (possibly the only one now that isn't either riddled with clickbait or beholden to some larger business/media entity).

Granted, updates are generally infrequent, but the consistent (high) quality of the writing for over 10 years is a pretty amazing feat. Much respect for all the DI authors/contributors.

> Harland Sanders next found work managing a Standard Oil service station in nearby Nicholasville. He made two cents profit per gallon of gasoline

That would be a pretty good deal in the present. Inflation seems to have increased the value of $0.02 in 1925 to $0.27 in 2016. For a busy station, during a busy period, if each pump is in actual use 50% of the time, and each pump is doing 5 gallons per minute (EPA restricts it to a maximum of 10 GPM[1]), that's 150 gallons an hour, and at $0.27 that's $40.50 an hour per pump. Not bad.

Although I'm sure there was much less gas being pumped back then, there were likely fewer pumps at a station, the pumps were probably slower, and it was much easier to offer a chunk of the profits because of less competition.

1: https://www3.epa.gov/otaq/regs/ld-hwy/evap/spitback.txt

Have you ever seen a pump in actual use 50% of the time? Even if there is a queue of traffic waiting to fill up, by the time people have parked, got out of the car, paid, pumped, got back in, negotiated their way past other cars (potentially blocking them in) so that someone else can get to the pump, etc I find it hard to see much more than 25% utilization even today. This would be even worse in the 20s, where payment presumably involves handing cash over to a person who probably isn't stood right by the pump.

Now I really want to go and time this process :).

I think 50% is a fairly good guess for pump usage for people that aren't buying other stuff. At 5 gallons a minute, that's 2-4 minutes of actual pumping for most cars/trucks, possibly larger for vehicles with larger gas tanks (note that a faster pump rate actually increases the overall revenue, even if it reduces the percentage of time spent pumping per person compared to other actions). At a busy station, I think 2-4 minutes of time to pull up to pump, pay with a credit card, and leave isn't out of the question.

It is all highly variable, of course. Let me know if you ever actually test this. :)

In those days, a rural service station might have had two pumps and one attendant (possibly Sanders hisself) and the attendant would service each and every customer, checking the dipstick and tire pressure, squeegeeing the windshield, and of course pumping the gas. Then going inside to operate the register and bring back the change.

It wasn't until the 1980's that the big oil companies began pushing the modern self-service plus convenience store model as a requirement for service station owners. When he was told to stay open late, our local Shell station sold to someone who would rather make a living selling six-packs of beer than wrenching the six pack under the hood.

Anyway, these days there's probably more profit in a dollar sixty nine big gulp and a bag of pork rinds than a tank of 87 octane and that was probably true back then. But not everyone wants to cell sugar water.

There's definitely more profit in the stores. My understanding is that some of the stations actually lose money on the gas just to get you there so they can sell you stuff at the store, which is far more profitable.

Sublimely written. Eloquent and fascinating, profound and hilarious.

> The eggs sailed, egg-like, across the expanse...

> ...spent his entire life rallying against liquor (finger lickers notwithstanding)


My favourite:

> like a wizard casting a poultry hex

I'm reminded of the description of KFC in China in Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, where the restaurant was referred to as "The House of the Venerable and Inscrutable Colonel." "Venerable" because of the age of the face on the bucket, and "inscrutable" because he apparently went to his grave without ever divulging the Secret of the Eleven Herbs and Spices.

DI is awesome. It has sporadic content updates, but has good writing and generally sticks to obscure but important stories.

Was anybody ever able to reverse engineer the original original recipe? (not the KFC "original" recipe)

Great article, but could have used a little editing:

> It was around this time that Sanders met his beloved Josephine King.

> It was around this time that Sanders met his beloved Claudia Price, a young divorced woman who lived in Corbin.

> It was around this time that Sanders met his beloved Bertha. Bertha was his nickname for his first pressure cooker, a new contraption that rapidly cooked vegetables using high temperatures and pressures.

By the time I came to the third repetition of this, I was pretty sure it was a running joke. :)

Precisely. The whole article uses similar callbacks. I think it's a great piece.

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