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Website dedicated to Colonel Sanders tells story of his legacy

The world's largest fast-food chicken chain has set up an online archive dedicated to keeping the legacy of its original founder alive.

More than 30 years after his death, KFC is resurrecting the memory of Colonel Harland Sanders, whose face still graces every bucket of deep-fried chicken but whose story is relatively unknown among its millions of customers.

Spearheaded by the colonel's assistant, Shirley Topmiller, the website also invites people with personal memories of the colonel and his family to contribute their stories.

The collection of photos, videos and testimonials tell the archetypal American success story of a humble man who, at the age of 65, turned a $105 social security check into a global chicken empire.

Though today the chain serves 12 million customers in 109 countries around the world, the multinational chain started in the humble kitchen of a service station, where the colonel served what is now known as his original recipe chicken on his own dining table.

Prior to his success, the sixth-grade dropout had worked as a farmhand, an army mule-tender, a locomotive fireman, railroad worker, insurance salesman and tire salesman before opening up a service station in Corbin, Kentucky, at the age of 40. There, he fed hungry travelers his signature chicken and soon invented the "home meal replacement," complete meals he called "Sunday Dinner, Seven Days a Week," created for busy time-strapped families.

When a new interstate highway forced the closure of his restaurant, the colonel, then 65, took his "secret recipe" of 11 herbs and spices and his $105 check and pounded the pavement, striking handshake deals with restaurant owners who agreed to sell his fried chicken.

Today, KFC is the largest chicken chain in the world.

Launched early this week, the site already has testimonials from people who had met the colonel, a man who was easily identifiable by his signature white suit, neatly trimmed moustache, snow-white hair and spectacles.

But perhaps most telling is the fact that while the he was a poultry champion, even the colonel couldn't eat chicken every day.

 "I met the Colonel back in 1973. I believe I was working in a cafeteria in Lauderhill, Fla," wrote Lorri Jewell. "I was on the serving line and I asked him if he wanted some chicken, and he laughed and took the fish instead."

The colonel died in 1980 at the age of 90.

Meanwhile, Kenny Rogers serves as another silver-haired face of a chicken franchise, Kenny Rogers Roasters, which now mainly operates stores in Asia after closing most of its US locations. The chain was developed with the help of former Kentucky governor John Y. Brown Jr., who also owned KFC from 1964 to 1971.

For more from the colonel's website, visit http://www.colonelsanders.com/.