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KFC Protests

[ 99 ] July 26, 2016 |

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Personally, I’d protest KFC for its horrible food, but I guess this is also a reason to do so:

For years, authorities under President Xi Jinping have stoked nationalistic sentiments in China as part of a larger campaign to push Chinese Communist Party ideology. Part of that effort includes “civilization” volunteers, who are recruited by the Communist Youth League and tasked with spreading the party’s message online.

“Online” being the key word. It seems protesting in the street is a step too far for the Chinese government, which finds itself at the moment in the odd position of denouncing demonstrations against American fast food chain KFC — fueled by the very brand of aggressive nationalism they helped foment.

Since July 16, Chinese people in at least a dozen towns and cities have protested in front of KFC restaurants because they are seen as representing the interests of the United States. Many in China think US meddling helped lead to an embarrassing ruling on July 12, in which an international tribunal shot down Beijing’s extensive claims over the South China Sea.

Videos showing protesters confronting KFC customers have also gone viral on social media, where the rallies were organized.

Look, if the interests of KFC are the interests of the United States, then China should just conquer our country now. I mean, I could at least accept an argument that the nation be represented by Popeye’s. Or Five Guys certainly. But KFC?

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  1. postmodulator says:

    Bob Nixon: Absolutely. Those peasants deserve the dignity and human right to eat Mr. Chicken when and where they please.

    Pete Helmes: And Jack, when that right is threatened in the Western Hemisphere, it becomes a national security issue for the United States of America. We’re talking of the very survival of the entire concept of internationally franchised chicken, Jack! You’ve got work to do.

  2. so-in-so says:

    Trump, KFC or the Chinese government. Talk about choice.

    Sweet Meteor of Death, the time is now!

  3. Brownian says:

    Clinton really should have picked rappin’ cartoon Harlan Sanders as her running mate, but hind-site is 20/20 (20 pcs for $20, while supplies last.)

  4. Gwen says:

    KFC is better than Church’s but not as good as Popeye’s. I had the chicken tenders last week but only because I was too lazy to drive the extra mile to the nearest Popeye’s.

    I haven’t really tried Bojangles and therefore I have no commentary.

    This comment was added because I don’t trust Erik to evaluate KFC fairly, because it is part of REAL AMERICA which he doesn’t understand. (Even though we basically agree on the whole Popeye’s thing).

    • Denverite says:

      KFC is better than Church’s

      Says someone who obviously has never eaten fried chicken.

    • Ahenobarbus says:

      How’s the corn on the cob at KFC. My recollection (I had it once as a kid): atrocious.

      • Gwen says:

        OK, yes. The corn in the cob is terrible. And KFC does have a tendency toward silly gimmicks like the whole Double Down phenomenon (I had one once, it was terrible). Also the abortion that was the “Nashville Hot Chicken” (which I never got to try because it got booted off the menu before I could).

        As for Church’s — I just find it to be terribly greasy.

        I think we can agree that most of the worst chicken in America is the kind that sits under a heat lamp at a gas station. I’d rather catch a pigeon (aka “rock dove”) and roast it over a sterno lantern. At least it would be fresh.

    • njorl says:

      Los Pollos Hermanos para la victoria.

    • wjts says:

      We used to get KFC every now and again when I was a kid. I liked it then, but 10 or 12 years ago I had it on a meal stop during a cross-country drive. It was awful. I’ve never eaten it since.

      Harold’s, though, is great. Shame about it not being available outside of Chicago.

      • medrawt says:

        I consider Harold’s a fundamentally different thing – a different style from Popeye’s/KFC/Church’s (based on my memory), out of which I think Popeye’s is the king. Harold’s is a little closer in style/spirit to what I might expect if someone actually home-made some fried chicken for me, w/substantially less breading in the batter/skin, etc.

      • Denverite says:

        Harold’s give me stomach issues the first time I ate there, so there hasn’t been a second.

        Hell, thinking about it, pretty much all of those restaurants in that shopping center did. I also got acute food poisoning at Leona’s (last time I ever ordered a burger less than medium!). I got sick after eating Pepe’s. I guess Cedar’s never made me ill.

  5. Denverite says:

    Look, if the interests of KFC are the interests of the United States, then China should just conquer our country now. I mean, I could at least accept an argument that the nation be represented by Popeye’s. Or Five Guys certainly. But KFC?

    Church’s is the correct answer. Or Jack-n-the-Box tacos.

  6. gorillagogo says:

    Even worse than regular KFC restaurants are those joint KFC/Taco Bell places. It’s as if being unable to focus on just one type of shitty food somehow makes everything worse

    • Erik Loomis says:

      The parent corporation of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut is called Yum!, making it the least appropriately named corporation in the history of capitalism.

      • M. Bouffant says:

        Yum! was spun off from PepsiCo in 1997, just to add to the horror.

      • Brett says:

        Look, I can understand bashing KFC and Taco Bell, but Pizza Hut?! Pizza Hut is freaking awesome, or rather Pizza Hut’s pan pizza is freaking awesome.

        They also have the best pizza to eat after it’s been left in the fridge to get cold for a few hours.

          • MPAVictoria says:

            Pizza hut pizza is actually not bad. Better than Dominoes except for the weird fact that no matter what the topping all their pizzas taste EXACTLY THE SAME. It weirds me out

            • wjts says:

              I “like” Domino’s better than Pizza Hut, but neither of them are especially good. If for some reason I had to get pizza from a national chain, I’d go with Papa John’s.

              • MPAVictoria says:

                I must admit I can’t stand Papa John’s.

                /Though that might partially be because I crush I had in college liked a person who worked at the local one instead of me.

              • Denverite says:

                If you’re living in/near a big city these days, I have no clue why you’d ever get chain pizza. There’s just so much good non-chain pizza in almost every style.

                • MPAVictoria says:

                  Basically cause it is cheaper I think. At least in Canada there is a big price gap between the chains and really good independent places. My partner and I tend to alternate based on how fat the wallet is.

                • Denverite says:

                  I guess, but the difference between paying $5 a person and $8 a person seems worth it for the difference in quality.

                • wjts says:

                  The local delivery places I like best around here charge $10-15 for a large one-topping. I don’t think that’s a whole lot more than the chains.

                • MPAVictoria says:

                  In Ottawa I can get two mediums from the chains for about 20 bucks. The good local places are closer to $40 for the same order. Pizza is better and more filling but there you go.

                • wjts says:

                  Yeah, that’s a pretty big difference.

                • Denverite says:

                  In Ottawa I can get two mediums from the chains for about 20 bucks. The good local places are closer to $40 for the same order. Pizza is better and more filling but there you go.

                  Yeah, here getting enough to feed our family of five is like $20 from Domino’s/Papa Johns and like $30 from the decent non-chain places.

                  There’s also an Italian-style place (hot Neopolitan-style oven that cooks a personal-sized thin crust pizza in about 120 seconds) on the way home. Pizzas are $6-$9 and four of them will feed us plus have a few slices left over for breakfast the next day.

                  [ETA: Actually, here’s the link. Anyone just south of downtown in Denver should give it a try. Presumably the Boulder original location is good as well.

                  https://www.pizzerialocale.com/ ]

                • DAS says:

                  Do all the places named Ray’s, Famous Ray’s, Original Ray’s and Famous Original Ray’s count as chains?

                  Seriously, though, one of my family’s go to places for pizza (if they just want plain pizza … if they want toppings, they go to the kosher place) is a “chain” in the sense they have at least two locations. I don’t remember if they have 3, 4 or only 2. As for me, I’m allergic to milk, so for me getting pizza involves legwork, and it’s a special treat.

              • Brett says:

                Papa John’s is so bland compared to other chain pizzas. Why get one of their pizzas when you could get a Little Caesar’s that would take somewhat better while being much cheaper?

                • wjts says:

                  I honestly think Papa John’s is better-tasting than their competitors, though I haven’t had Little Caesar’s in something like 30 years. There’s one not too far from me, but I’d rather just order from a place I know I like even if that means foregoing a more robust data point for my exceedingly rigorous comparative study of chain pizzerias.

            • J. Otto Pohl says:

              For chain pizza I have to go with Pizza Inn. Its HQ is in Zimbabwe. But, the Accra Mall has both Pizza Inn and Pizza Hut and the South African style pizzas are a lot better than the box of grease.

          • Brett says:

            I truly pity you, Erik, unable to access the pleasures of cold pan pizza with extra cheese and pepperoni. It is hands down the best breakfast ever.

        • JMP says:

          It is the best of the national pizza chains, but that’s damning with faint praise, as Domino’s and Papa John’s are just absolutely hideous (not to mention run by right-wing assholes).

          However, now I’m on the West Coast and here Pizza Hutt is actually better than most of the local places which are just, well, not good at all. They don’t even cut the pizzas right, slicing them into a crapload of tiny little slices instead of the standard eight slices.

          • Ahuitzotl says:

            From my limited experiences, each chain seems to actually vary wildly from store to store, despite all the alleged standardisation. Dominos in Little Rock was inedibly bad, Pizza Hut was very erratic & Papa Johns was pretty good, but there were at least 3 independant stores that delivered, better than any of them.

            Where I am now, there is *one* Dominos store that gives excellent pizza, and two that seem to use old frisbees with cheese; Pizza Hut always takes an hour+ to deliver, and there is no local Papa Johns; and all the independant places that deliver are bland to awful.

            (and for eat-in-store, I couldn’t say, if I’m going out to eat, I’ll go get some actual, you know, food.)

  7. CaptainBringdown says:

    Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

    JFKFC

  8. heckblazer says:

    Crisis of Infinite Colonels. An actual comic made by DC for KFC that includes an alternate universe Col Sanders who is a giant rooster.

  9. Brett says:

    I’ve heard KFCs over there are more like Applebees or TGI Fridays. Which presumably makes them better than KFCs here, which have bland fried chicken that tastes inferior to the fried chicken I can get at the supermarket deli for much cheaper.

    Good sides, though. Good biscuits and potato wedges, albeit not as good as Popeye’s sides.

    • Jean-Michel says:

      In terms of design and the dining experience, KFCs in China aren’t really any different than KFCs in the U.S., except they’re typically larger and you don’t have to bus your own table (which is standard for fast-food joints in China). Of course there are some differences in the menu (like a “Sichuan-style” flatbread beef wrap and some more authentic local dishes like congee and youtiao), but none of it is exactly haute cuisine and the overall quality isn’t any better than you get from American KFCs. But relatively speaking it’s more expensive—you can easily pay as much to eat at a KFC in China as you would at a KFC in the U.S.—so going there is more of a special outing. Taco Bell in China tried to go upscale, with waiters and the whole bit, but it tanked badly and they left the market within a couple of years. Pizza Hut, on the other hand, has done pretty well there with the “upscale” model, and is more of a generic “Western” restaurant where pizza is only a tiny part of the menu (which you can peruse here to satisfy any morbid curiosity).

  10. Crusty says:

    Colonel Sanders- not actually an officer in the United States military.

  11. MPAVictoria says:

    I have a lot of nostalgic affection for KFC because when I was young my grandparents would bring some to our place once a month so my parents would not have to cook. We didn’t have a lot of money and we almost never ate out so this seemed like a special treat. That said, their chicken is really greasy and far inferior to Popeye’s.

    /Still love it cold the next day in my lunch though. For some reason day old KFC is WAY better than the fresh variety.

    • wjts says:

      Yeah, I have fond childhood memories of it, too, mostly eating it picnic-style in the backyard on summer evenings with some other families from the neighborhood.

  12. Crusty says:

    When I was a kid, the first time I had KFC, it was their “extra crispy” variety. Good enough. Years later, I had the “original recipie” and man, it was just a soggy mess.

  13. C.V. Danes says:

    I thought the U.S. was already represented by Walmart.

  14. J. Otto Pohl says:

    KFC remains very popular in other parts of Asia. My Kyrgyz wife and her cousin couldn’t wait to eat at the KFC in Almaty, Kazakhstan. There is no KFC in Kyrgyzstan. But, there are a lot in Almaty and the one in the Megacenter mall had a long queue.

    • Lurker says:

      Could you please describe what is the cost of a meal compared to the median income?

      As far as I’ve read, the Western fast-food franchises are relatively expensive to your usual Chinese city-dweller, so eating in one tends to be a special occasion even for the middle-class.

      As such, protesting against KFC would be a way to protest against unnecessary luxury in a politically safe way. If you are, in actuality, protesting economic inequality, channelling your message against a foreign symbol of said inequality is a great way not to go directly against the government.

      • J. Otto Pohl says:

        Per capita GDP in Kazakhstan is quite high about $10,500. Almaty as a city is even higher. KFC costs a little less than $3 per person per meal there.

  15. Jake the antisoshul soshulist says:

    In the realm of restaurant fried chicken KFC is better than Bojangles or Popeyes. Not tried Church’s.
    The sides at KFC are almost inedible.
    Pan fried is usually better,if done correctly, but you have to get that at home.

  16. Jean-Michel says:

    Worth noting here (since it’s not in the article) that there are precedents for this. In 2008 Chinese Carrefours were swarmed by protesters because Tibetan activists and their supporters stirred shit up during the Olympic torch relay through France, and in 2012 Uniqlos were picketed during a particularly strong outburst of anti-Japanese sentiment connected to the Diaoyu/Senkaku issue and the anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre. (Shockingly enough, it seems no mainland Uniqlo stores were picketed last year when workers at their Shenzhen supplier’s factory went on strike, though union activists did picket a location in Hong Kong and handed out leaflets outside one in Manhattan. No points for guessing how activists would’ve be treated had they tried the same thing outside a store in Guangzhou or Beijing.) Pace the Global Times, this isn’t a “new wave of patriotism” but the latest iteration of a pretty familiar pattern, and the underlying issues are basically unchanged—Han Han’s essay on the Carrefour protests (which is translated in the book My Generation) could apply pretty well to the current situation with just a few search-and-replacements.

  17. galanx says:

    You know who else liked KFC? William F. Buckley. I’m just sayin’.

    Funny, while they are much more popular than McDonald’s in China, the reverse is true in Taiwan.

    • Jean-Michel says:

      Warren K. Liu’s KFC in China—the definitive book on the subject, I assume—doesn’t go into much detail about the situation in Taiwan, but implies that KFC’s operations there suffered from mismanagement, initially at the hands of a joint venture between a local firm and two Japanese companies (KFC was already huge in Japan when it expanded to Taiwan in the mid ’80s). Later the existing operations were taken over by a Hong Kong company, but in the mid-’90s Yum!’s China office began opening its own Taiwanese franchises without any agreement on dividing up the territory, and for the next five years KFC in Taiwan was split between two companies that were effectively in competition with each other. By contrast McDonald’s started with a comparatively simple joint venture between a Taiwanese firm and the U.S. company, and in 1994 the U.S. HQ bought out the Taiwanese partner altogether. Interestingly Liu attributes much of KFC’s success in China to Taiwanese personnel, the most important of whom (Sam Su, who stepped down last year from his position as Yum!’s Chinese CEO) was poached from McDonald’s Taiwanese operations.

      (As an aside, while leafing through Liu’s book I was reminded of another precedent for these protests I didn’t mention in my above post: apparently there were large protests against Chinese KFCs after the 1998 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, and some Colonel Sanders statues were vandalized or destroyed in the belief that they were actually Uncle Sam.)

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