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KFC Corporation (KFC), founded and also known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, is a chain of fast food restaurants based in Corbin, Kentucky. The restaurants, based in several cities and towns throughout Kentucky and 12 other regional survivor nations (Virginia, East Tennessee, Portland, Jackson, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Jonesboro (Arkansas), Waynesboro (Tennessee), Cape Girardeau and Portageville (Missouri)), serve fried chicken, french fries, biscuits, cole slaw and other locally made foods.
The chain was born when Harland Sanders began serving fried chicken at a gas station he owned in Corbin, Kentucky in 1930. The dining area was soon renamed Sanders Court & Café, and Sanders had so much success selling fried chicken that he was granted the title of honorary Kentucky Colonel in recognition of his work. In 1937 Sanders expanded his restaurant and added a motel to his holdings.
When Sanders prepared his chicken in his original restaurant in Corbin, he prepared it in an iron skillet. The process took a half-hour, too long for a restaurant operation. In 1939 he altered the cooking process to incorporate the use of a pressure fryer, greatly reducing the cooking time. The following year Sanders devised the recipe which distinguished his fried chicken from other chains and restaurants and would become known as the Original Recipe.
The Sanders Court & Café generally served travelers, often those headed to Florida. The route of the planned Interstate 75 would bypass Corbin, leading Sanders to sell his properties and travel the country to sell his recipe to restaurant owners. Pete Harmon of Salt Lake City, Utah was the first owner to partner with Sanders; together, they opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet in 1952. The chain quickly expanded to over 600 franchises throughout the U.S. and Canada (and one in England) by 1964.
Sanders sold his interest in Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1964 for $2,000,000 to a group of investors which included John Y. Brown, the future governor of the state of Kentucky. In 1971, the chain - now 3,500 franchises strong - was sold to Heublein, Inc. Sanders died of leukemia-related causes in 1980.
In 1982, the chain passed into the hands of its final owner, R.J. Reynolds, Inc., after Reynolds purchased Heublein.
Louisville, Kentucky, where Kentucky Fried Chicken's corporate headquarters was located, was hit by three Soviet missiles. Franchises in surviving towns and cities across the U.S. were overrun by locals looking for food and, like other similar restaurants, soon abandoned.
Corbin, Kentucky survived Doomsday, with local and state police keeping order while local officials sought to connect with other area towns; the town eventually allied itself with the acting state government based in Lexington, and eventually with the Fort Knox-based Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Curiously, when CK forces entered Corbin and locals responded with a town-wide celebration, local chicken vendors not only sold their food on the street but offered it - free of charge, of course - to the CK soldiers. The soldiers initially refused, but the commanding officer had extensive knowledge of Kentucky history and decided to see Sanders' original restaurant for himself.
The proprietors of what locals knew as the Harland Sanders Cafe welcomed their guests and sent back a bucket of chicken legs for CK President Donald Campbell, which were accepted and flown to the President. A note - now hanging in the restaurant's museum wing - attached to the bucket read To Gen. Donald M. Campbell, we thank you, God Bless - Love Corbin.
Investors approached the owners about restarting the KFC chain. In 1992 the first post-Doomsday franchise opened in downtown Lexington, followed quickly by one in Elizabethtown. By 2007 the chain had spread regionally across Commonwealth cities in former Kentucky and southern Indiana, as well as into Virginia.
In 2008, with radiation levels having decreased in parts of Louisville enough to allow for exploration, KFC ownership requested the government to explore the ruins of the old KFC headquarters in an attempt to salvage the legendary secret recipe.
The area around the original headquarters was, like much of Louisville near the blast sites, a no-man's land of dead, gray landscape dotted with remains of buildings and vehicles. Incredibly, the vault was found, having survived the airport blast in such a twisted, scarred condition that it took observers several weeks to get to its contents. What they discovered was unrecognizable, likely having burnt or melted from the heat from the blast over the nearby Standiford Field airport.
Somewhere on Bardstown Road, south of the former corporate headquarters (and the airport), a safe was found by excavators. Expecting to find cash or jewelry, soldiers were surprised to see an envelope containing the recipe, and a letter stating what it was and that it was the copyrighted property of R.J. Reynolds, Inc. and KFC.
The best educated guess of how the safe (and its contents) survived is that when news of the impending strikes broke, someone at the headquarters went to the vault, secured the recipe, and threw it into a safe while attempting to get away from the area as quickly as possible. As the safe was discovered in the ruins of the former town of Fern Creek, it probably was blown to that location by the airport blast.
Although the letter and note with the recipe was deemed still unsafe to be handed over for civilian use (due to residual radiation), both were transcribed. The recipe was tested in Corbin, and older locals judged it to be "just like" the KFC Original Recipe chicken they had enjoyed pre-Doomsday. Going by the testers' word, KFC executives voted unanimously to switch to the Original Recipe formula.
The recipe currently sits in another vault at the current KFC headquarters in Corbin.