KFC for Christmas
While elsewhere around the world, Christmas dinner usually means a fat roast turkey or a nice holiday ham, in Japan it’s all about the Colonel. When the first KFC opened in Japan in 1970, the store manager Takeshi Okawara (who would later go on to become the CEO of KFC Japan) had a sudden flash of inspiration during his sleep one night (as the story goes) – a Christmas ‘party barrel’. At that time, Christmas dinner in Japan was sort of ill-defined, and turkey was (and still is) extremely hard to come by. To Okawara, the party barrel filled a nice void. In 1974 the concept went national with the campaign ‘Kurisumasu ni wa, Kentakki’ or ‘Kentucky for Christmas.’
The idea went over like gangbusters and today an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families will sit down to a hearty feast of KFC on Christmas Day. The ‘party barrels’ have been redesigned as ‘Christmas dinner packages’ (much classier), and every year these holiday sets make up a whopping one-third (!) of KFC Japan’s annual sales. If you’re thinking about joining in the tradition this year, just be warned: this is no joke. If you want ‘Kentucky for Christmas’ you better order your package weeks in advance, or be prepared to queue up for hours at your local KFC.