December 20, 2012
Why Japan is Obsessed with Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas (K. Annabelle Smith, 12/19/12, Smithsonian)
Posted by Orrin Judd at December 20, 2012 4:32 AMIt's Christmas Eve in Japan. Little boys and girls pull on their coats, the twinkle of anticipation in their eyes. Keeping the tradition alive, they will trek with their families to feast at ... the popular American fast food chain KFC.Christmas isn't a national holiday in Japan--only one percent of the Japanese population is estimated to be Christian--yet a bucket of "Christmas Chicken" (the next best thing to turkey--a meat you can't find anywhere in Japan) is the go-to meal on the big day. And it's all thanks to the insanely successful "Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!" (Kentucky for Christmas!) marketing campaign in 1974.When a group of foreigners couldn't find turkey on Christmas day and opted for fried chicken instead, the company saw this as a prime commercial opportunity and launched its first Christmas meal that year: Chicken and wine for 834 2,920 yen($10)--pretty pricey for the mid-seventies. Today the christmas chicken dinner (which now boasts cake and champagne) goes for about 3,336 yen ($40).And the people come in droves. Many order their boxes of "finger lickin'" holiday cheer months in advance to avoid the lines--some as long as two hours.