KFC's Famous Buckets Are Getting A Makeover For The Holidays

As the holiday season draws near, many brands and restaurants are prepping to embrace the Christmas spirit. Starbucks serves up drinks in its iconic holiday cups, but KFC has its own unique packaging each year to add some festive fun to mealtime.

The first Kentucky Fried Chicken (more commonly known as KFC, per Reader's Digest) franchise location opened in Salt Lake City in 1952, according to the KFC website. Harland Sanders had begun working on his iconic chicken around 1930 and had opened a roadside motel in Corbin, Kentucky, where he served his food. By 1939, Sanders had found the perfect blend of herbs and spices to perfect his secret recipe. Today, KFC notes that there are over 25,000 locations across 145 countries and territories.

This year, KFC is celebrating the holiday season with special value meals to help save some cash in between buying gifts. Plus, if you're buying for a crowd, the fast-food chain's holiday-themed buckets include an extra sweet bonus, while supplies last.

A Christmas tradition

In Japan, eating Kentucky Fried Chicken is actually a Christmas tradition for some people, according to CNN Travel. In fact, the holiday is one of the busiest days of the year for the fast-food chain, and many of the restaurants make between five to 10 times more sales than on a typical day. People can even preorder the buckets ahead of time to avoid standing in long lines.

Back in the 1970s, KFC opened its first Japanese location in Nagoya (via Smithsonian Magazine). Over the next decade, the chain opened an estimated 30 stores per year, totaling 324 locations across the country by 1981. In 1974, as part of a marketing campaign, KFC launched "Kentucky for Christmas." One story says a manager spread false information about fried chicken being a traditional American Christmas food. Another goes that the same manager went to a Christmas party dressed as Santa, which was popular with child attendees.

Whatever the reason, the campaign worked, and KFC has become a popular Christmas dinner for citizens of Japan. CNN Travel reports that the party-sized meals offered by KFC — which often include a bucket of fried chicken, coleslaw, and cake — fit with Japanese dining cultural norms (like the popular style of fried chicken called karaage), making the meals a perfect addition to holiday celebrations.

Share a meal with your loved ones

Though KFC might not be a wildly popular holiday tradition in the United States, the fast food chain is still getting into the holiday spirit. According to PR Newswire, a few new bargain meals will soon be hitting menus, as well as a brand new bucket.

For just $5, KFC will be offering its Famous Bowls — a base layer of mashed potatoes, topped with crispy fried chicken, sweet corn, hot gravy, and shredded cheese (via KFC). For those who prefer a little extra heat, KFC also offers a Spicy Famous Bowl, which adds some Nashville Hot Sauce to the mix. Customers can grab a $7.99 combo deal for the famous bowls, which includes a medium-sized drink and an order of fries on the side.

If you're feeding a crowd, you can pick up a holiday-themed bucket from KFC. PR Newswire reports that since the 1960s, KFC has released a new bucket design each year to celebrate the season. This year's theme is "Sharing is Caring," and each 12 or 16-piece meal will come with six free cookies, at participating locations. The meal deals and buckets are now available at participating KFC locations nationwide. Meanwhile, unlike in Japan, the United States will have to make do this holiday season without a cool, youthful Colonel Sanders (per Time Out Tokyo).