Accordion Guy Advent Calendar, Day Sixteen: Fast Food

Perhaps you’ve already heard this little bit of trivia, but in case you haven’t, let me the one to tell you: many people in Japan associate Christmas with things that we’d expect, such as decorations and gifts, but also with things that we wouldn’t expect, such as romantic getaways to love hotels and a Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner.

Joi Ito has written that he knows the origin of the Japanese Christmas/KFC tradition: it’s all due to his friend, Shin Okawara. Shin was responsible for bringing KFC to Japan, and during its introduction, spun what I like to call “the dirty bird” or “greasy buzzard” as the sort of food eaten by rich people in America, in a manner similar to the way those old Grey Poupon ads made it seem like the mustard of the upper classes. He ran an ad campaign that showed wealthy American

families all eating KFC for their yuletide feast. The Japanese, being led to believe that “dirty bird” was an American Christmas tradition, simply adopted it.

Lest you think that I am poking fun at our Japanese friends for adopting a Christmas tradition learned from TV, I will now make a confession — we deVillas have done it as well. In an episode of the late 1970s television series Eight is Enough, the Bradford family had a tradition of drinking orange juice before opening their presents. Dad thought this was a good idea, and borrowed this tradition. Almost thirty years later, it’s still OJ first, then the presents. And it’s all Dick van Patten’s fault.

I’d love to give you a KFC-related downloadable as today’s Advent Calendar goodie, but I don’t have any. However, I’ve got the next best thing: McDonald’s-related downloadable goodies. These are ads from 1962 that feature early appearances of McDonald’s then-new mascot, Ronald McDonald, who was played by Willard Scott, long before he was a fixture on the Today show.

Ronald’s costume was a much rougher version of the Ronald we know today. Note the use of a McDonald’s cup for a nose and tray with burger, fries and shake for a hat. Also notable is the quaint 1960’s “Ronald McDonald” theme music.

Those of you who have a bit of clown phobia may not want to watch these videos — many people I know find the old Ronald much creepier than thew current one.

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