Jollibee; Largest Filipino Fast Food Chain. Bee happy!
Is it a Who or a What?
Have you ever seen a bumble bee dressed in red blazer, shirt, and chef’s hat? That’s Jollibee!
Jollibee is the main mascot of the largest fast food chain in the Philippines. Although loved by people across ages, it is specially appealing to children due to it’s lovable figure. Unlike the scary clown, Jollibee is an adorable and talented mascot as it performs dances according to the current trends. The stores accommodate parties and events and you can request for the mascot’s special appearance alone or with the gang. The group includes Hetty (spaghetti), Yum (burger), Twirlie (sundae) and Popo (french fries).
But why a bee? According to the founder, it is compared the the Filipino working class, busy but still happy.
Jollibee merchandise such as dancing Jollibee dolls, and pillows can be bought at stores including limited editions on special occasions and events.
How it Started
Jollibee Foods Corporation was founded by a Filipino-Chinese businessman Tony Tan Caktiong and his family in 1975. Caktiong was born and raised in a poor family in China and migrated to the Philippines together with his 6 siblings in hopes for better future. The business was originally an ice cream parlor but due to customers’ demand, they started to serve sandwiches and hot meals. After noticing that the meals were more popular, the family decided to replace the ice cream shops into fast food outlets in 1978.
Mcdonald’s was proven to be difficult to beat but Jollibee was able to rival and withstood it. Why? The rival McDonald’s, according to Caktiong, “didn’t know local food culture”. In an interview where Caktiong was asked about the business’ secret, he said, “Just make sure your food is really tasty”.
At present, there are over 1000 stores in the Philippines alone and 150 branches in foreign markets like the US, UK, Southeast Asia and the UAE. The Corporation also owns popular food chains like Chowking, Greenwich Pizza, Red Ribbon Bakeshop, Mang Inasal, and Burger King Philippines. The CEO’s estimated net worth is about $4.0B and on the Top 5 richest Filipinos.
What’s Popular and What to Try
The chain operates 24/7, where menu changes from breakfast to main meals and desserts. The author will share her personal favorites on the menu.
- Chickenjoy! The fried chicken meal is probably the most popular product in the store. It has a crunchy texture from the outside and really soft and juicy inside. They have the original and spicy varieties. Except for chicken and rice meal, chickenjoy is also paired with their spaghetti.
- Peach-mango pie! A dessert that is to die for. The crust is crispy and flaky but it’s sweet with bits of peach and mangoes in thick sauce inside. It is served REALLY hot!
- Yumburger. It is one of the first products served in the early days of the business. It’s a typical burger but somehow, the taste is easily identifiable from those of other stores.
- Jolly spaghetti. A favorite among kids and younger customers, the Filipino-style pasta can be a surprise to foreign tongues. Their interpretation of spaghetti is sweet and meaty, with chunks of hotdogs and meatballs. The sweetness of the dish can be challenging to those who prefer Italian-style pasta.And, don’t be surprised to see a serving of fried chicken and spaghetti in one plate!
- Palabok. It’s a Filipino-style bihon noodles served with a special sauce and toppings of pork chicharon bits, sauteed pork, shrimps, and slices of egg. It has a unique taste and incorporates local ingredients and flavors.
- Drinks. In the Philippines, main beverage was from Coca-Cola but in some countries, they serve Pepsi. But now, a variety of drinks are available such as pineapple juice and tea.
It may be difficult to penetrate the international market but Jollibee has put up stores in countries like the US, Canada, the UK among others. So how does it fare? As they say, Filipinos are found almost everywhere in the globe so it’s no surprise that Jollibee stores are filled with customers, mostly Filipinos, while others are curious locals. To many Filipinos, Jollibee is a place to meet fellow Filipinos. The taste of the dishes makes one feel nostalgic and remember their childhood. From those who miss their home-cooked Filipino meals, it’s a welcome retreat. It’s a slice of the Philippines brought to their doorstep. It’s like a home away from home.
Let’s discuss with aimtalk teachers (request with the link of this article)
- Do you know any similar success story in Japan? Please share what you know.
- Have you ever tried Filipino food? What dish did you try? How was your experience?
- What things do you miss the most when you are away from your own home? What do you do to feel better?
adorable(adj): attractive and beloved
merchandise(n): goods or products
migrate(v): go to live in another country
withstand(v): stand up to
incorporate(v): include something
be filled with: make it full with something
nostalgic(adj): feeling happy when you remember the time in past