KFC is wildly popular in Japan.
The fast food chain has more than 1,200 locations there, making it the fried chicken chain’s third-largest market behind the U.S. and China.
As sales decline in the U.S., KFC is focusing on Asian markets to bring in big profits.
Here are a few reasons KFC Japan is completely different from the U.S. version.
1. Dark meat chicken is popular.
Americans are crazy about all-white-meat chicken. In Japan, the patties, strips, and nuggets feature light and dark meat, as seen in this ad.
2. Rice is featured prominently on the menu.
KFC caters to local tastes by offering rice products, such as bowls and a shrimp patty. Featured below are Japanese Teriyaki and Spanish rice bowls.
3. Worker uniforms are a tribute to the Colonel.
KFC workers in Japan wear white uniforms that are a nod to company founder Colonel Sanders.
4. Milkshakes are one of the most popular items.
KFC Japan has milkshakes on the menu called “Krushers,” which the company heavily promotes. Flavours include cookies-and-cream, berry, and mango.
5. It’s way more expensive to eat there.
Japanese customers are willing to pay a premium for the American fast food experience.
“I recently went to KFC and ordered a 10 piece, two large fries, four biscuits and four small coleslaws,” writes Asian travel blogger Facing The Rising Sun. “The bill was over $US43 — and that was without any drinks.”
6. The Colonel mascot makes frequent appearances.
Colonel Saunders is much more prominently featured in KFC Japan’s culture. The Twitter page frequently shows a mascot interacting with customers in the restaurant.
7. People flock there on Christmas.
Christmas isn’t a national holiday in Japan, and only 1% of citizens identify as Christians.
But thanks to a successful marketing campaign in 1974, people flock to KFC on Christmas Day, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
“Many order their boxes of ‘finger lickin’ holiday cheer months in advance to avoid the lines — some as long as two hours,” Smithsonian writes.
8. Fries are more popular than mashed potatoes and gravy.
Most Japanese customers automatically order fries as a side to their fried chicken. Mashed potatoes take on a different form — they are packed with cheese and bacon and then deep-fried.
9. Customer service is renowned.
“The customer service here is leaps and bounds ahead of that in the U.S.”, according to the Japan-based food blogger Facing The Rising Sun.
KFC workers in Japan go through extensive culinary training.
10. The company has some wacky promotions.
In honour of “Colonel’s Day,” KFC Japan gave away some crazy chicken-themed computer accessories. Free gifts included a computer mouse shaped like a drumstick.
11. The biscuits look like doughnuts.
Unlike the buttery biscuits in the U.S., KFC Japan’s biscuits are shaped like doughnuts, and have a sweet flavour. While the biscuits clearly resonate with the Japanese palette, Americans on a Reddit thread called them “terrible” and “bland.”
12. Delivery is widespread.
It’s easy to get your KFC delivered in Japan. Couriers bring your food on company-themed motorbikes.
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