“Colonel Sanders goes to Mexico: the first venture of the fast food industry into the developing world, 1963-1975”

Raúl Bringas-Nostti

As founder and initial force behind Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Harland David Sanders, later known as Colonel Sanders, was a pioneering businessman. With the innovative use of pressure cookers, he accelerated the cooking process, which is the very essence of fast food. By polishing his personal image, he became the first popular character in the fast food industry, years before Ronald McDonald was even born. However, Colonel Sanders and his company are not remembered for their third great innovation: the conquest of the developing world. Fast food redefined the urban culture of developing countries. It became one of the core elements of the post-war “clash of civilizations”. In present days, a globalized planet without fast food signs would be unrecognizable. The restaurant KFC built in Monterrey, Mexico, in 1963, was the beginning of a successful expansion. It became the pioneer of a new era in American business “civilization”. In the same year, A&W Restaurants went to Malaysia and the Philippines, but not with the same success. Colonel Sanders traveled to Monterrey to supervise his bold move. This venture was his last contribution as head of the company. In 1964 he sold his assets to a group of investors, but retained a role as advisor and representative. In the following decade, more KFC restaurants opened their doors in Mexico. By then, history had already been made. The customers in Monterrey, who cheered the legendary man with the white suit and the Van Dyke goatee, had witnessed the day fast food arrived to the developing world.