This Article was written by Zanelle Awinyo, Year 9
Across the world there are many different types of Christmas traditions. From attending events and leaving cookies out to burning the Gavle goat. Christmas traditions vary depending on where in the world you are… but have you ever considered having KFC to be one of these traditions?
Every Christmas season, an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families treat themselves to KFC in what has now become a nationwide tradition. December tends to be a busy month for the fast food chain in Japan as daily sales during this period can sometimes be 10 times their usual take. Not to mention getting the KFC special Christmas dinner often requires ordering it weeks in advance, otherwise you may have to wait in line for hours.
However, what most people may now consider an annual event was never meant to be a tradition. It started as a corporate promotion by Takeshi Oakawara, the manager of the first KFC in Japan. After hearing a couple of foreigners in his store talk about how they missed having turkey for Christmas, Okawara came up with the idea of having a “party barrel” to be sold on Christmas.
In 1974, KFC took the marketing plan national, calling it Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii (aka. Kentucky for Christmas). The idea took off quickly and so did Okawara, who climbed through company ranks and later served as president and CEO of KFC Japan from 1984 to 2002.
The Party Barrel for Christmas became a national phenomenon and filled a void in Japanese Christmas traditions according to many of the buyers. KFC confirmed that the packages account for about a third of the chain’s yearly sales in Japan, making it one of the most successful marketing ideas.
Millions of people in Japan celebrate Christmas with KFC, others treat it as a romantic holiday similar to Valentine’s Day, and couples may mark the occasion with dinner at high-end restaurants. For other Japanese families, Christmas is acknowledged but not celebrated in any particular way.
Nevertheless, while some may just see it as fast food which could be bought all year round, other Japanese locals see it as a symbol of family reunion. To them it’s not just about the chicken, it’s about getting their families together and there just happens to be chicken as part of it.
...And that’s a free Friday fact you now know!
Have a wonderful winter break!!