Imagine walking into a KFC, and instead of smelling their signature fried chicken, you’re overpowered by pungent wafts of stinky sour snail noodles. That will soon be a reality in China, where the fast food chain’s localization drive has hit a whole new level.
KFC China has announced the launch of a range of pre-packaged, fast-cooking items entitled “Kaifengcai,” with chicken snail noodles among the items on offer. The menu, available later this month, also includes chicken breast, chicken soup, and fried rice.
KFC announcing the new menus on Chinese social media site Weibo
Snail noodles, or luosifen (螺蛳粉), has been a signature dish of the city of Liuzhou, in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi, since the 1970s. Known for its uniquely “stinky” aroma, the dish’s smell comes from the presence of sour fermented bamboo shoots, which are mixed with rice noodles and slow-boiled river snails. In 2019, Liuzhou officials applied for national and world-class intangible cultural heritage status for the dish. It’s become a huge hit in recent years, in particular among young Chinese urbanites who flocked to ecommerce sites to buy pre-packaged versions amid Covid-19 lockdowns.
Now KFC is jumping on the bandwagon while also trialing a new mode of presentation for their food items. According to a press release, the “Kaifengcai” series is designed to “invite young people to enjoy hands-on cooking pleasure” via the dishes’ self-heating packaging. KFC’s posts about the range have immediately gone viral on Chinese social media.
The move is the latest step in the localization of KFC’s menus in China, which feature a range of takes on traditional Chinese dishes alongside the fried chicken that most international customers might expect. In July 2019, KFC launched a menu series of Chinese midnight snacks and boiled skewers, or chuan.
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For more on how KFC and other American fast-food chains have adapted to the Chinese market, check out our video explainer:
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