How KFC cornered Christmas in Japan

How KFC cornered Christmas in Japan

Kentucky Fried Chicken is one of the world's most famous fast-food companies.

Started in 1952 in North Corbin, Kentucky, it now has more than 20,000 stores globally.

What's less well known is that it has played a significant role in making Christmas a big deal in Japan.

Given Shinto and Buddhism are the two largest religions, it's understandable that this most famous Christian festival was not a significant entry in the Japanese calendar.

For American and European ex-pats living there, it was often the time they found themselves the most homesick.

This is because this time of year is synonymous with families coming together and enjoying a meal of roast turkey and an array of vegetables.

The problem was a whole turkey was almost impossible to come by in Japan. No one was farming the stuff.

When KFC landed on Japanese shores in the early 1970s, ex-pats soon began visiting the fast-food chain to experience their version of the traditional Christmas meal: fried chicken.

One enterprising young employee spotted an opportunity.

What if the company could create a new occasion for eating KFC by marketing a special 'Christmas meal' to its Japanese customers?

With a bit of work, KFC Japan's first Christmas meal launched in 1974.

Combined with a marketing campaign called Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii, or 'Kentucky for Christmas', it quickly established the restaurant as the place to go on December 25th.

It's so popular that stores take customer orders up to two months in advance.

Even today, Christmas in Japan equals KFC.

The ‘Hemingway Bridge’

The ‘Hemingway Bridge’

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