You know Christmas is a’coming when…

Colonel Sanders, Motoyawata Station, Chiba, Japan

…the Colonel puts on his Santa suit. I’m actually not sure how long our local manifestation of the Colonel has been all gussied up, but I suspect it happened right after Halloween. Given that Thanksgiving doesn’t exist here, I guess that gives retailers full license to start Christmas season when the weather starts to get a bit nippy. I guess the suit probably does keep the statue warm…

If you think the pic above is amusing, I highly recommend that you click on this link, which will delight you with images of the Colonel dressed in far more ridiculous outfits than the above.

One of the things I find eternally amusing in Japan is the way that your standard American fast food chains (like KFC, for instance) get customized for the Japanese context, resulting in all kinds of wacky goodness. For instance, did you know that KFC has a special Christmas menu in Japan, and that it’s really popular for Japanese people to go there to pick up their Christmas dinner?

Picture stolen from Japan This!. Click here to read a great article on Christmas in Japan.

McDonald’s also has lots of great examples. They often do special burgers at various times of year. The last time I stopped in, they were handing out little handbills advertising a special monthly series of chicken burgers:

And Pizza Hut, too. You’ll find all sorts of interesting combos like tuna and potato, tomato and camembert, tuna and mayo curry, Hokkaido pumpkin, dijon mustard sausage, super Korean purukogi, crab and shrimp mayo, and more. Click here to check out a sample menu (in Japanese). The thing I find most amusing is their “mayo and chicken ball” crust option:


Apparently, it looks remarkably similar in real life:

This sort of thing happens all over the place, of course. When I was an undergraduate I remember reading a book called Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia, which was all about the ways that McDonald’s has to change for local audiences. The larger argument of the book was that globalization is really a two-way street; it’s not just about foreign influences coming into a place, it’s also about local influences changing the “global” to suit their tastes and needs. Of course, that isn’t always the way it works. But with respect to fast food marketing, it makes for some pretty entertaining reading/eating!