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Dave Thomas

Who Came Up With KFC’s Rotating Bucket Sign?

Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC for short, has grown from a backroom in a fuel station in the middle of nowhere to become the de facto chicken fast food restaurant chain in the world. Today it enjoys a massive global presence, and its food is enjoyed by millions of people every day. But did you know who came up with KFC’s Rotating bucket sign? 

Dave Thomas, a Colonel Sanders protege who created the rotating bucket sign and got the Colonel on television. Then he went on to found Wendy’s, a restaurant chain.

The Empire Builder KFC Employee

At the start of the Korean War, Dave joined the Army at the age of 18 in the early 1950s. He became one of the youngest soldiers to manage the Enlisted Men’s Club. Dave served in Germany for two and a half years before returning to his job and restaurant family at the Hobby House in 1953.

1962, Dave was finally presented with an opportunity he couldn’t refuse: the chance to revitalize four failing Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurants in Columbus, Ohio. Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC, had met Dave and quickly became one of Dave’s most vital mentors. (Source: Mashed)

The Sharing of the Chicken-Mogul Torch

When Phil Clauss purchased a KFC franchise, he offered Dave the opportunity to resurrect his four failing Columbus restaurants. Against the Colonel’s advice, Dave accepted the challenge and triumphed.

Clauss promised Thomas that if he could turn around the former’s four failing KFC locations, he would be given a sizable percentage of the business. The challenge appealed to Thomas, and he accepted his boss’s offer.

However, a number of Thomas’ innovations aided in the turnaround of those four Ohio KFCs. He simplified the menu and designed the iconic rotating red bucket sign. Thomas also persuaded the colonel to appear in Kentucky Fried Chicken commercials.

These suggestions were put into action, and not long after, Thomas successfully revived the four restaurants, and business began to pick up. (Source: Mashed)

Dave Thomas and His Love for Hamburgers

Dave Thomas was given a whopping 45 percent stake in the KFC business, and with his profits, Thomas opened his own KFC restaurants. He became a millionaire in his 30s. In 1968, he sold the shares to Sanders and the KFC Corporation for $1.5 million.

Dave was consumed by his love of hamburgers and went to every hamburger stand. Dave saw an opportunity when a friend mentioned how difficult it was to find a good lunch in downtown Columbus.

Wendy is the nickname Dave chose for his daughter Melinda. Her siblings couldn’t pronounce her name, so they started calling her Wenda, eventually becoming Wendy.

He believed that the logo of a happy, smiling little girl with the name Wendy’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers would be the place to go for a hamburger.

Wendy’s introduced the salad bar in 1979, making it the first of its kind among burger fast-food chains. Thomas was involved in the management of his company and even appeared in Wendy’s television commercials as himself.

Wendy’s is now America’s third-largest burger fast-food chain, trailing only McDonald’s and Burger King. It also owns and operates over 6,500 restaurants in 34 countries. (Source: Mashed

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