Is Colonel Sanders Actually Santa In Disguise?

Last night for Christmas Eve I went with a friend for Korean food. Yes, Korean food on Christmas Eve in Tokyo, and no, it’s not some kind of weird tradition to eat bibimbap on Christmas Eve. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We walked past a few KFCs last night en route to the restaurant and the place was jam packed with people, mostly young couples out on a date.

So who takes their date to a KFC fast food joint on Christmas Eve in Tokyo, and more importantly, why? According to my friend, it’s been that way since she was a child. “Kentucky for Christmas” is a well known slogan from an obviously successful advertising campaign over 30 years ago. In fact, KFC is synonymous with Christmas lunch/dinner. While in the Western world a baked whole chicken or turkey is traditional, in Japan very few people have ovens so baking a turkey is out of the question. After all, this is a land of rice and fish, not bread and ham.

Perhaps it’s not that hard to make the jump from Colonel Sanders to Santa. Let’s look at their similarities:

COLONEL SANDERS:

Old white guy

White beard and mustache

Glasses

Jolly old fellow

Delivers delicious deep fried chicken to hungry families

SANTA:

Old white guy

White beard and mustache

Glasses

Jolly old fellow

Delivers presents on Christmas Day to good little boys and girls

Maybe it’s not that different? Substitute ‘presents’ for ‘chicken’ and voila! Colonel Sanders becomes Santa! It’s simplicity is brilliant. I’m not which advertising company came up with ‘Kentucky for Christmas’ all those decades ago, but it has certainly stuck, and obviously this is a Japanese Christmas Tradition that will be around for more decades to come!

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