(TOKYO) -- Forget Santa Claus. When it comes to Christmas marketing in Japan, Colonel Sanders may take the top prize.
While Christmas isn't a national holiday in the country, KFC has managed to make eating its packaged chicken meals a holiday tradition. The colonel's recipe is so popular in Japan, the fast-food chain recommends customers place their Christmas orders two months in advance.
KFC's popularity can be traced back to a highly successful marketing campaign that began nearly 40 years ago. At the time, the Christmas holiday wasn't as widely celebrated in Japan, but a KFC employee saw an opportunity to cash in, and the company launched its first Christmas meal in 1974: chicken and wine for $10, a pricey meal at the time.
The traditional Christmas party barrels sell for about $40 these days -- a family pack that includes fried chicken, a salad, and chocolate cake.
KFC's Japanese stores posted their highest holiday sales in 14 years last year, and a spokesman says they are on track to break that record this year.
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