Speaking of Christmas traditions, Japanese consumers partake of millions of fried chicken servings on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, a Yuletide practice that began sometime in the 1970’s courtesy of, not surprisingly, the fried chicken fast food chain KFC:
The fast food joints do a roaring trade over the Christmas period, with restaurants turning away customers on December 24 if they haven’t booked their chicken in advance.
Even in chicken-mad Philippines it’s very difficult to think of reserving a meal at KFC.
How did this practice start?
The Kentucky Christmas habit started in 1974, after a foreign customer mentioned to a store manager that he had come to buy fried chicken because he was unable to find turkey in Japan. His words inspired a sales campaign that paid off.
“The fashion at the time was to have a nice American-style Christmas,” said [Sumeo] Yokokawa. “So we offered the chicken as a set with a bottle of wine and it was very popular.”
Yes, KFC Japan’s work has paid off in spades indeed:
Thirty years of intensive marketing have convinced the Japanese that chicken is the traditional Christmas food in North America. This belief is not a measure of Japanese gullibility: most Japanese have never seen or eaten turkey, and cooking and consuming a bird that large–or even having an oven big enough to roast it in–would strike most people here as being excessive and slightly deranged, like making omelettes out of ostrich eggs.
Here’s a clip of a TV commercial (TVC) promoting KFC as the ideal Japanese Christmas food:
And another, eariler TVC with the same theme featuring Japanese actress Rie Miyazawa: