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Letter to Editor: American fast food hits a 30 year milestone in China

By Daniel Otero (People's Daily Online)    11:33, October 31, 2017

(Photo: kfc.com.cn)

It all began in Beijing. By November 1987, the city was already catering to this fast food phenomenon, which had gone worldwide since the 1960s.

In the ancient Middle Kingdom, American fast food expanded in cities from north to south and east and west.

People in China are crazy about KFC. It’s one of the most popular franchises to hit this country in three decades along with McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks. These four fast food franchises are the top four in this nation of 1.4 billion people.

Ah yes, fast food in China. It doesn’t only hold to a deeper meaning of quick, easy, and good. Fast food has become a symbol of prosperity and development for the millennial generation in the PRC (People’s Republic of China).

Of course KFC, like the rest, are processed foods that will fatten the waistline if eaten constantly or more than once a week.

The food is fattening, but who cares when KFC is about to hit its 30 year milestone.

Think about it, the original menu in Beijing started with the original chicken recipe and a side of mash potatoes with gravy. As KFC came to China, in honor of and respect for Chinese culture, the menu evolved. “Lao Beijing-chicken wrap” was added to the menu, in the same fashion as Beijing-duck wrap. That menu item remains one of its most popular alongside the chicken burger. By the way, I love them too! And today, the menu has dozens of varieties to choose from, whether it’s morning or afternoon.

KFC’s origins began simple enough, with a man from the US state of Kentucky called Colonel Sanders who never gave up on his dreams of selling his original recipe around the world. He persisted through constant rejection till he mastered his recipe after his 1,000th try. An investor converted his idea into a franchise. He made $2 million ($15 million in today’s money) from the deal. Considering what KFC has become, his idea was worth billions.

KFC paved the way for markets like McDonalds, which entered the Chinese market in 1990 followed by Starbucks in 1999. Pizza Hut also entered China in 1990.

In some major cities, you can easily find at least three KFCs sprawled within a four-block radius. That’s how popular this fast food chain has become.

The top four franchises are favorites amongst Chinese elders, their children, and certainly their grandchildren. And truthfully, too much of it will expand the waistline, but what the heck...

If a person has the means and the desire, then it’s best to enjoy during this third-decade anniversary.

And in the meantime, while America’s fast-food culture is a symbol of cheap food, for Chinese, it’s a new measure of wealth, status, and success, which they’re enjoying throughout this land in the form of fast food.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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