PHOTO: Harland Sanders. KFC hit our shores in 1971 with the first store opening in Auckland

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the first Kentucky Fried Chicken opening in New Zealand, in Auckland’s Royal Oak, on 20 August 1971.

KFC, as it’s now known, was followed by Pizza Hut in September 1974 and McDonald’s – the first of which opened its doors in Porirua in June 1976.

The KFC story began in 1896 in the Sander’s family kitchen. Harland Sanders was six, his father had just passed away and his mother was forced to go to work, leaving young Harland at home to look after his younger brother and sister and cook most of the family meals. The Colonel loved to cook and was always experimenting with various combinations of herbs and spices. And at the age of 40, he bought a motel and cafe at Corbin, Kentucky. It’s here that Harland cracked his recipe for the secret 11 herbs and spices, making his chicken a hit with everyone who tried it. He became so renowned for his herbs and spices that in 1935 the State Governor made him a Kentucky Colonel.

His popularity continued to grow until the early 50s when a new highway was planned, cutting straight through the town of Corbin where his beloved motel and cafe lived. After being forced to sell his business, the Colonel was flat broke and looking for a new lease on life. But as confident as he was in the quality of his chicken, and at the ripe old age of 65, he started travelling around the country spreading the so good word. And it worked. By 1964, Colonel Sanders had more than 600 outlets in both the US and Canada. He continued to be involved in the business until he unfortunately lost his battle with leukaemia in 1980 at the age of 90. SOURCE KFC NZ