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In Japan, KFC Has Become a Christmas Tradition



In Japan, KFC Has Become a Christmas Tradition

(CTN News) – Every year, Naomi eagerly anticipates her family’s traditional Christmas meal: a KFC “party barrel” filled with salad, cake, and fried chicken.

The 30-something Japanese woman said it is customary in Japan to eat chicken at Christmas.

“Every year, I order the party barrel and enjoy it with my family. I enjoy the delicious chicken as well as the adorable picture plate that comes with it.”

KFC Christmas dinner is not the only tradition enjoyed by Japanese residents, according to Naomi, who asked only to be identified by her first name and her family.

Life-size Colonel Sanders statues, dressed as Santa Claus during the holiday season, have been welcoming thousands of locals and tourists since the mid-1980s.

As reported by KFC Japan, the company earned 6.9 billion yen ($78 million) from December 20 to 25 last year, with lines out the door beginning on December 23.

KFC Japan’s busiest day is usually December 24, when they sell five to ten times as much as they normally do.

The KFC commercials on television are very appealing as Christmas approaches. Our family orders early and makes it to the store at the designated time to pick up our bucket.

A person who does not reserve a bucket will be forced to stand in long queues for several hours.”

It seemed as if KFC was everywhere

It is pertinent to look back a few decades in order to understand how and why fried chicken became synonymous with Christmas in Japan.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Japan’s economy grew following a period of austerity following World War II.

According to Ted Bestor, a professor of Social Anthropology at Harvard University who has studied Japanese food and culture for the past 50 years, “the Japanese economy was climbing through the roof… and people had the cash to indulge in consumer culture for the first time.”

Since the US was a cultural powerhouse at the time, there was a great deal of interest in Western fashion, foods, and overseas travel – Japan was really opening itself up to the outside world.”

In the early 1970s, Bestor recalls seeing many foreign franchises opening in Tokyo, including Baskin-Robbins, Mister Donut, and The Original Pancake House.

During this period of rapid globalization, Japan’s fast-food industry expanded 600% between 1970 and 1980, according to the 1981 documentary, “Colonel Comes to Japan.”

The first KFC outlet was opened in Nagoya in 1970, when the company was known as Kentucky Fried Chicken.

According to the documentary, the chain had opened 324 stores by 1981, averaging over 30 every year.

According to Bestor, it seemed as if Kentucky Fried Chicken had suddenly become ubiquitous.


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Salman Ahmad is a seasoned writer for CTN News, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to the platform. With a knack for concise yet impactful storytelling, he crafts articles that captivate readers and provide valuable insights. Ahmad's writing style strikes a balance between casual and professional, making complex topics accessible without compromising depth.

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