The Rosett Report

Kentucky Fried Chicken in Iran

Apparently it’s no spoof. The IAEA may be out of Iran, but finger-lickin’-good KFC, Persian-style, is in. Here’s Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reporting that the Colonel has landed: “100-Percent Iranian” Kentucky Fried Chicken opens in Iran. Reportedly, an Iranian businessman, Amir Hossein Alizadeh, says he has spent years obtaining the required permits to open a KFC, and has just done it, in the Iranian city of Karaj.

What’s going on?

I would not for a moment suggest that the opening of an Iranian KFC means that the Iranian regime — seduced by the joys of deep-fried fast food — is about to can its nuclear program, stop its “Death to America” chants, scrap its terrorist networks, abandon its murderous ways and embrace the West. It isn’t. Nor is it unknown for officials of monstrously repressive and anti-American regimes to enjoy hypocritically watching American movies, chowing down on American food and enjoying American technology. In the Iranian consulate in Dubai, when I stopped by there in 2010, they were typing away on Dell computers. Iranian officialdom has a distinct penchant for trying to illicitly acquire American military technology, munitions and airplane parts.

And how to square a KFC in Karaj with expanding American sanctions on Iran is a question the story does not cover; we await further news. Treasury has issued a lot of “humanitarian” exemptions from sanctions over the years to quite a number of American companies that want to do business in Iran, including Pepsi and Coca-Cola (via an Irish subsidiary); what part of that is current, I don’t know. Keeping up with how the latest sanctions measures affect specific companies has become quite a race.

It sounds from this story as if the Iranian KFC will have little in common with the American version, apart from the “general KFC standards” and the logo. Apparently the menu will be offering 32 items meant to appeal to the Iranian palate. Alizadeh is quoted as saying “We’re not an American brand. We’re not an American company.”

Nonethless, Alizadeh has apparently gone to a lot of trouble to arrange to sell his 100% Iranian food under that oh-so-American Kentucky Fried Chicken name. Evidently he believes that as far as Iranians are allowed to vote with their wallets, they’ll vote for the American Colonel. That implies something about what people really want in Iran.