From our founder to our tagline –KFC’s got several things that make us distinctively, well, KFC. But one asset that makes us extra original, is our bucket, which was created by Colonel Sanders and Pete Harman (the first KFC franchise owner). The journey of the bucket began back in 1957, when the Colonel called Pete to see if he wanted to buy 500 paper buckets that another franchisee had purchased from a travel salesman. Harman agreed and filled each bucket with 14 pieces of chicken, five rolls and a pint of gravy. The take-out bucket idea was an instant success and has been used to package our delicious fried chicken for over 60 years.
Although the bucket traditionally looks the same, boasting the Colonel’s face and our famous red and white stripes, there are a few places in the world that have found special moments to put their own spin on the iconic KFC Bucket. Whether it’s to celebrate the holidays or to support your favorite Cricket team, these brilliant bucket innovations are proof that the KFC bucket can be used to make any and every event just that much better.
See how the countries below took our bucket to the next level!
In Australia, KFC Buckets have become synonymous with Cricket, the country’s number one sport.
How you ask? Over ten years ago - in a display of loose, free-spirited fun – some fans started wearing KFC Buckets on their heads at cricket games. In 2017, with Australia’s arch-enemy England on their shores, they even enlisted fans to join the Buckethead Army, the Australian cricket team’s official cheer squad. Their ‘uniform’? The first official national Buckethead design: a classic green and gold camouflage design – totally “understated” and as Aussie as you could get.
Since then Bucketheads have exploded. Moving on from just an ‘Australian’ design, they’ve made their way into the local Australian Big Bash League (BBL) as well, introducing unique and fun team-specific designs for fans to show their ultimate team love in the loudest way possible.
“Party Barrel” (2020)
The first KFC opened in Japan on November 21, 1970 (this year is their 50th anniversary!), and they’ve cherished buckets ever since. The buckets they used in the 1970’s were much bigger than they are now, holding up to 21 pieces of chicken!
In Japan, KFC is a holiday season tradition. Folks gather around a KFC bucket with family and friends to celebrate the Christmas season, year-end and New Year holidays. The first KFC Japan Christmas campaign launched in 1974 and this gradually evolved into a huge tradition for the country– ‘Fried Chicken for Christmas’.
In fact, KFC Japan’s busiest day is December 24 – where they are five to ten times busier than the annual average. The “Party Barrel” bucket design is particularly special around Christmas, guaranteed to make your holiday party a hit with tasty gratin, cake and delicious chicken. There’s also a special New Year bucket that has evolved into a traditional Japanese box called "Oju".
Speaking of the holidays, last year, KFC US got into the holiday spirit with Colonel Santa and a special limited-edition bucket. It was the first time KFC US introduced an original illustration on the bucket design. The bucket featured artwork designed by award-winning children's book author and illustrator Nicholas John Frith.
The design captured all the holiday traditions, including wrapping presents and decorating the tree. Those who were lucky enough to make the nice list last year could enter KFC's #SecretSanders contest for a chance to win one of 11 original KFC gifts after the purchase of a holiday-inspired bucket.
In 2017, KFC South Africa discovered that families weren’t connecting the way that they used to over supper. Technology was disrupting the supper table, which was often the only time some families got to spend together. KFC South Africa was determined to flip this and set out to combine technology and our buckets to bring families back together again. This insight brought the KFC Suppertime Story to life.
They took the bucket and turned it into a suppertime theater by linking limited edition packaging with built-in mobile technology. Families would turn off the lights, go to a link from their phones and project the stories with light through the bucket wrap. The goal was to allow families to enjoy supper from KFC, while watching the stories play out in the shadows.
As a brand, we’re committed to improving our sustainable footprint, especially through our packaging. In 2019, KFC Canada explored eco-friendly alternatives to our world-famous buckets. Their sustainability exploration eventually landed on a bamboo fiber poutine bucket that was launched this year.
This was not only a win for the environment but was also a win for our brand. And to put the cherry on top of this remarkable initiative, KFC Canada recently announced the bamboo packaging would become a permanent packing solution and the famous buckets would make the switch to bamboo by the end of 2021. The move to bamboo poutine buckets will help KFC Canada eliminate 55 tons of plastic waste annually.
As you can see, our buckets can bring people together to celebrate just about anything and has moved us closer to our sustainability goals. There are bucket loads of fun to be had in this space, so be on the lookout for the next great bucket innovation. It could be in a city near you!