This Was The First Western Fast Food Chain To Open In China

Though it feels like fast food has been around forever, the concept only started to materialize back in the 1950s and 1960s, when chains such as McDonald's and Burger King opened their doors and quickly grew in popularity. Fast food restaurants tried to balance quality with low prices, which was a huge draw for the average consumer. Fast forward to the present day, and fast food has become one of the highest-grossing aspects of the United States' food industry. According to Toast, fast food brings in roughly $278 billion annually in the U.S. Plus, the focus on quality has only heightened, and most places have expanded far beyond burgers and chicken to include salads and plant-based options, too.

Globally, fast food could grow to be a trillion-dollar industry by 2027, according to a 2020 market analysis report on PR Newswire. And a big part of that income comes from the Asia Pacific Market, which accounts for roughly $205 billion in annual sales, per Market Data Forecast. Still, it took one Western fast-food giant to make the first leap into China, Asia's largest country. And it certainly paid off.

KFC opened a China location in 1987

These days, most Western fast-food restaurants have expanded into other parts of the world. Though chains like McDonald's and Subway have the most fast-food places around the globe (via WorldAtlast,) one chain has it beat when it comes to China: KFC.

According to Listverse, KFC was the first Western chain to expand into China, opening its original location there nearly 35 years ago in 1987. KFC had first expanded into Southeast Asia in the early 1980s, which was quite successful. The fried chicken giant wanted to continue that expansion into other parts of Asia, so it later opened a location in Beijing. For the most part, the operation has been incredibly lucrative and essential to KFC's expansion. However, the fast-food chain did run into a few problems, such as difficulty importing potatoes. But today, there are more than 2,000 KFCs nationwide in China, making it the biggest fast-food chain in the country, per Insider.