By Joel García

Japan can’t get enough KFC on Christmas Day

In Japan little boys and girls put on their fancy coats, the twinkle of anticipation in their eyes. Keeping the tradition alive, they will go with their families to feast at … the popular American KFC. Oddly Christmas isn’t a national holiday in Japan. Only about one percent of the Japanese population is Christian—yet a bucket of “Christmas Chicken”, is the go-to meal on the big day, of December 25th and it’s all thanks to the insanely successful “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) Marketing campaign started in 1974. When a group of foreigners couldn’t find turkey on Christmas day and opted for fried chicken instead, the company saw this as an opportunity and launched its first Christmas meal that year: Chicken and wine for 2,920 yen ($10) which was pretty pricey for the mid-seventies. Today the Christmas chicken dinner goes for about 3,336 yen ($40).

These days, KFC records its highest sales volume each year on Christmas Eve. Back office staff, presidents and execs come out to help move the lines along. Fried chicken and Christmas have become synonymous in Japan. KFC’s advertisements feature major pop cultural figures chomping on drumsticks, the company website even has a countdown until Christmas. They opened a three-story restaurant at the south entrance of Shimokitazawa station in Tokyo which offers the company’s first-ever, fully stocked whiskey bar– that their website claims gives visitors a taste of “Good ‘ol America.”