After making “Kentucky Fried Christmas” a thing, KFC continues to bring out New Year’s boxes to compete with traditional osechi cuisine
To many Westerners, the Japanese tradition of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken at Christmas is baffling. But thanks to a successful marketing campaign in the 1970s, Japan now associates Christmas with KFC so strongly that there are huge queues outside the nation’s KFC shops on Christmas Eve. Personally, I’ve met quite a few Japanese people who were under the assumption that KFC is eaten in the West as well on Christmas, so it’s safe to say that KFC has completely dominated this particular festive event in Japan.
But, not content with that, KFC Japan is now rolling out a special box to compete with the Japanese traditional New Year’s food known as osechi. Osechi usually consists of layered boxes known as “jyuubako” full of special foods with meanings which represent good luck for the New Year. Since everything shuts down in Japan for New Year, osechi are also designed to last for several days, meaning that there’s no need to do any cooking during this period of time which in Japan is meant for family.
KFC Japan’s special jyuubako comes in three versions: Bamboo, Pine, and Plum, mimicking the naming convention used for traditional jyuubako and Japanese meal sets.
The Plum version costs 2,000 yen (US$1,709) and includes: four pieces of original chicken, one crispy shrimp fry, one “crispy”, one biscuit, five nuggets and one large order of potato fries.
The Bamboo version costs 2,500 yen and includes: six pieces of original chicken, two crispy shrimp fries, one “crispy”, one biscuit, five nuggets and one large order of potato fries.
The Pine version costs 3,000 yen and includes: eight pieces of original chicken, three crispy shrimp fries, one “crispy”, one biscuit, five nuggets and one large order of potato fries.
The tasty fried chicken treat boxes have divided Japanese net users. Some pointed out that while traditional jyuubako are part of New Year culture, a lot of people find the osechi food contained in them to be not so tasty. Children also are famous for turning their noses up at the selection of pickled, stewed and boiled foods that make up osechi. However, those more health-conscious commenters pointed out that it’s a lot of mostly similar fried chicken pieces on offer in KFC’s boxes with little in the way of variety or vegetables. “It’s all beige!” writes one, with another commenting: “So much grease!”
While KFC Japan managed to successfully slide its way into an unoccupied niche in the market with Christmas, (which wasn’t traditionally celebrated in largely non-Christian Japan), the same probably can’t be said for New Year’s, which is Japan’s biggest event of the year and full of its own culinary traditions.