Japan Airlines has a new food promo going this 2012 Christmas Season. It is Air Kentucky! You heard it right. They've done Air MOS Burgers, Air Beef Bowl, and now they are doing Kentucky Fried Chicken at 30,000 feet. These promotional tie-ins are fun. While it isn't three star Michelin food it is nice that they do these tie-ins with such a nice presentation.
Airline food is a kind of hit and miss thing where they ask you for beef or chicken (in economy class at any rate) and in this case I'll take chicken please. This is a nice tie-in for the Japanese Christmas celebrations as Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) plays a big role in the localization of Christmas in Japan.
According the the JAL press release:
"TOKYO, November 28, 2012: Japan Airlines (JAL) and Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan (KFC) have collaborated on the 7th installment of the popular AIR SERIES in-flight meal onboard select international JAL flights, and will be serving onboard, [AIR KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN] from December 1, 2012 to February 28, 2013.
During this period, customers traveling in Premium Economy and Economy Class on JAL from Narita to New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego*, London, Paris and Frankfurt, will be served KFC’s Original Recipe two-piece chicken meal during the second meal service. It includes one drumstick, one boneless chicken breast fillet, a piece of complementing flat bread made especially for AIR KENTUCKY, a cup of coleslaw and lettuce leaves. Customers can savor the same, unique taste of KFC’s trade secret recipe of “11 herbs and spices” as it is, or as a sandwich by sandwiching the fresh lettuce leaves and fragrant fillet in the bread, and topping it off with special mayonnaise.
*Available on the San Diego route from the inaugural flight on December 2, 2012.
JAL and KFC have created an exquisite packaging just for this tie-up. The design features JAL and the famous founder and mascot of KFC, Colonel Sanders on a special box and tray mat, unavailable anywhere else but onboard these JAL flights."
Amazing coverage of the actual in-flight meal can be seen here at Kotaku.
Now, back to the role of KFC in many modern Japanese Christmas celebrations. At Christmas, the fried chicken is a substitute for turkey, and it is quite popular. Queues form outside KFC outlets before Christmas or people reserve their buckets in advance to make sure they get their Christmas chicken.
This tradition started in the mid-1970s as an Aoyama branch manager listened to a foreigner who couldn't get turkey for a party and opted for a bucket of other bird instead. This Christmas chicken idea was then sent up the old management hierarchy. According to Danny Choo, "In 1974, KFC then started promoting the catchphrase "Christmas = Kentucky" and poured a load of yen into the marketing effort. The catchphrase soon caught on and together with the commercials on TV, the Japanese then started to consume a load of Chicken during the festive season."
All Japan Wants For Christmas is Kentucky Fried Chicken.