KFC, founded in 1930 in southeast Kentucky, is one of those distinctly American exports that enjoy enormous popularity overseas. It's a Christmas delicacy in Japan, and franchises for the fast food restaurant are rapidly proliferating throughout the Middle East. The brand's selection of chicken and hearty sides is so popular, in fact, that Palestinians living on the Gaza Strip, where imported goods and travel remain restricted by its neighbors Egypt and Israel, are willing to pay a team of smugglers to run KFC orders through underground tunnels, usually waiting four or more hours to see their orders fulfilled. The premium for the illicit chicken runs high: according to The New York Times, a 12 piece bucket of chicken bought for $11.50 in Egypt currently goes for $27 in Gaza City. (In the U.S., the same item costs between $16.49 and $20.49, depending on location.)
The Times explains the complicated logistics of delivering cross-border KFC food:
For fast-food delivery, it is anything but fast: it took more than four hours for the KFC meals to arrive here on a recent afternoon from the franchise where they were cooked in El Arish, Egypt, a journey that involved two taxis, an international border, a smuggling tunnel and a young entrepreneur coordinating it all from a small shop here called Yamama — Arabic for pigeon.
Prices may soon fall, though. A West Bank businessman told the Times that "he had been authorized to open a [KFC] restaurant in Gaza and was working out the details" with KFC's franchising division. In the meantime, you may fulfill your sudden craving for Popcorn Chicken here. Savor it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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