Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“Kentucky for Christmas!”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on December 24, 2014


For reasons I’m not exactly clear about myself, Harlan Sanders (of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame) has always seemed an interesting figure to me. (It ain’t the chicken, for which I have other loyalties.) So I enjoyed this essay by Molly Osberg on how Colonel Sanders became a sort of “Father Christmas” icon in Japan, of all places.


If America is oversaturated with fast food empires and too well-acquainted with the Old South’s history to reinterpret it as a fun and exotic myth, in Japan there has been no such problem. There are currently more than 1,200 KFC locations in the country, including an “Adult Kentucky Fried Chicken” bistro serving pasta dishes with beer and “KFC Route 25,” a posh KFC in Tokyo stocked with a full whiskey bar. Not to mention the whole Christmas thing. There’s a countdown to Christmas on KFC Japan’s website and banners celebrating “Kentucky Christmas 2014.”

Colonel Sanders remains an icon there, perhaps one as famous as Babe Ruth: In 1985 the Harshen Tigers, a Kansai-area baseball team, won the Japan Series for the first time, but during the ensuing celebration, reveling fans took hold of one of Osaka’s ubiquitous KFC Colonel Sanders statues and dumped it into the Dontonbori River. The Tigers haven’t won a series since they triggered the Curse of the Colonel. In 2009, divers found the statue and it was returned to the KFC closest to the stadium. Still, the story goes, the Colonel is mighty disappointed and he won’t lift his curse on the team until the statue’s missing hand and glasses are recovered.


More on KFC in Japan here. and the “Curse of the Colonel” here. Y’all have a wonderful holiday.



7 Responses

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  1. Jimmy Dick said, on December 24, 2014 at 9:30 am

    I was stationed on Okinawa in the early 80s and it was interesting to visit places like McDonald’s and KFC while I was there. These were off post locations. The further I went from the bases the more divergent the menu became. If the franchises were to use the same menus they use in America, they would lose money. So these iconic fast food places often vary from place to place.

    I point this out to my geography students that you can observe cultural differences in places by going into the American fast food places in foreign countries and checking out how things are set up and served. In Germany McDonald’s restaurants are arranged differently to accommodate the German culture and tastes. They are American, yet at the same time they are not.

    In France, the burger joints had to radically alter their menus or close the restaurants because the Whopper and Big Mac were rejected by the French. That is changing now, but the debacle reveals cultural differences that if not accounted for can cost millions of dollars of losses as some franchises found out over the years.

    • Andy Hall said, on December 24, 2014 at 9:41 am

      Those are good observations, and a good way to bring it into the classroom, with brands the students feel like they know well. But there are even regional differences. I went a conference in Honolulu, and to save money I ate breakfast every morning at the McDonalds across from the hotel. They served a slice of pineapple with every meal, and I think they may have included SPAM in the menu (although I may he imagining that last part).

      You have a wonderful holiday, Jimmy!

      • Jimmy Dick said, on December 24, 2014 at 11:30 am

        Thanks, Andy!
        You and yours have a Merry Christmas too!

        You can keep the SPAM though. I had enough of that. It is a staple in many diets in the Pacific now.

        Of course, it sure beats nothing all to pieces doesn’t it?

  2. Michael Lynch said, on December 24, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Col. Sanders has a connection to the Civil War: he funded the construction of LMU’s Lincoln museum. Visitors used to ask why we had a picture of the KFC guy in the lobby.

  3. dmf said, on December 24, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    merry merry andy

  4. Andrew Raker said, on December 24, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    There’s a house near where I live with a large flag pole, and at the top is an American flag, with another underneath. On two separate occasions, I’ve driven by it and thought the lower flag was a CBF, only to get closer and see it’s a flag featuring the KFC logo from the 90s. My thoughts quickly change from “what kind of person is flying the CBF in Indiana?” to “who even has a KFC flag?”

    Also, the Colonel is buried in the prominent cemetery in Louisville, and there’s a white line painted on roads to lead visitors from the entrance to his grave. Never mind that it has a national cemetery dating back to the Civil War (including, until recently, the oldest monument from the war, which has recently been moved to a local museum for restoration), or George Rogers Clark, or any other notable from Louisville – it’s Sanders who’s the draw.

    Thanks for the posts, and enjoy the holidays!

  5. Ken Noe said, on December 26, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I think that Colonel is in Tokyo’s Electric City. It looks like the one I saw there anyway.

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