Me and Chairman Mao
  Kentucky Fried what?
Our satellite TV system here in our Oriental Manhattan apartment carries a lot of stations that originate in the Philippines. While this is good in terms of program quality--LOST, The Tonight Show, Seinfeld, Friends, Conan O'Brien, and so on--it's also funny, mostly because of the commercials. For example, did you know that they have Shakey's pizza in the Philippines? I haven't seen one of those for years, and I guess now I know why--they've all relocated to Manila. What could be more natural?

We also saw a very strange commercial the other night as we sat around eating dinner and watching the O.C. (just starting the second season, perfectly enough) and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It was for Kentucky Fried Chicken, and it was advertising a new menu item: spaghetti with red sauce. Really. How much sense does that make? I mean, what part of "Fried Chicken" relates to pasta? Zero to none, I believe. Now, I don't have a lot of marketing experience, but it occurs to me that if you have to serve spaghetti to get people to come to your chicken restaurant, YOU HAVE THE WRONG KIND OF RESTAURANT. Just a thought.

However, on a KFC related note, I should add that one place KFC is doing quite well is ... China! (Bet you didn't see that coming?) In fact, China is KFC's second biggest market behind the US, and I'm betting it won't be too long before it's number one. Quite an accomplishment, I'm sure. For example, I have--within the space of one week--located five KFCs that are less than a ten minute walk from my front door. (Side note, there is actually a big argument among the China expat community over whether or not KFC tastes better in China or in the US, because it definitely tastes different. I fall on the China side, for whatever that's worth.) There are also (at least) two Pizza Huts, two McDonalds, and two Starbucks, and I am continually amazed at the number of Chinese people standing in line to buy a Frappucino--at US prices no less--at 3 PM in the afternoon. (Hint: it's a lot of people.) Sure, it's 90 degrees outside with 85 percent humidity, but $3.50 for a drink is insanely expensive here. (Note to self: buy stock in Starbucks.)

In other US restaurant news, Burger King--the first in mainland China, I believe--opens in Shanghai next week. You cannot believe the excitement this is causing around here. Seriously. It would almost be sad, if I myself weren't looking forward to some flame-broiled goodness. Hmmm, flame-broiling ...
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