Last week, KFC unveiled its limited edition fried chicken prom corsage in hopes that pimply high schoolers would sport them in place of cheap carnations and red roses. I tried one on to see how awkward and greasy prom night could truly get. It's pretty...
Instead of visions of cheap carnation corsages, Kentucky Fried Chicken is attempting to make a slab of cooked poultry encased in tiny flowers the new norm for pimply teenagers heading to prom night. When the limited run KFC drumstick corsage was introduced last week, it quickly became a viral sensation for its balance of debatable marketing genius, horror, and morbid fascination.
KFC has long been upping the ante on novelty items that walk the line between curious and downright disgusting. I've eaten both the Double Down and the (now retired) Famous Bowl, and survived to tell the tale. I even own the fried chicken scented candle produced by Kentucky for Kentucky. Yet despite its fast food mogul status, KFC is an integral part of Kentucky culture. My born-and-raised Kentucky roots ensure that I am constantly fascinated by the ability of an organization that started out in a Shell filling station in the Appalachian Mountains and went on to create a global phenomenon, generating international buzz with such over-the-top marketing ploys. I had to see the latest prom-themed attempt in the flesh.
The KFC chicken corsage might be a limited edition item (there's only one hundred released like spawn into the universe), but I had no trouble or competition ordering mine online from the executor of KFC's master plan: Florist Nanz and Kraft, based in Louisville, KY. I used to live around the corner from this flower shop, and was wondering how a tiny florist—that typically makes the traditional arrangements for birthdays, funerals, and wedding showers—ended up executing a fast food mogul's marketing plan.
The corsage landed exactly one week later in my New Orleans mailbox. The small package included a glittery red ribbon surrounding a small chicken takeout box with a congratulatory note and a somewhat flattened burst of white plastic flowers. In the very middle perched a cardboard cutout of a chicken leg. There was no fried chicken, and no fresh flowers. In the bird's place sat a $5 coupon for fried chicken, to be redeemed at my local KFC.
I had to drive a while to find the nearest outlet (New Orleans is, without a doubt, Popeye's country), but upon my arrival, I was greeted with an entirely new set of hurdles. When I handed over my coupon and explained that I had come to claim my corsage chicken, the KFC staff looked at me skeptically.
"Girl, I have no idea what you're talking about, but do your thing," said the checkout woman, who proceeded to roll her eyes. "Now, do you want original, extra crispy, or grilled?"
I begrudgingly payed the 0.44 cents in tax for my box of extra crispy chicken, and headed home to assemble the corsage.
It was always awkward enough with pre-prom rituals, when we would accidentally prick our dates, nervously trying to fasten their boutonnieres onto rented tuxedo shirts. Picturing a hormone-jacked teen trying to place a greasy piece of crispy, crumbly poultry onto their dates outfit seemed like a painful visual I never want to witness. When I attempted this at home (as a grown adult with no prom in my future), the satin ribbons of the corsage were difficult to untie in order to secure my chicken leg.
Once fastened in the middle of the flowers and velcroed on my wrist, the chicken was conveniently simple enough eat in one fell swoop. It was quite heavy, though, and began to leak grease all over the back of my arm as it cooled. There's a real reason why food and jewelry don't mix; the situation quickly moved from odd to disgusting. After fifteen minutes of wear, the chicken detached from the corsage completely, like a high-school streaker freeing themselves from a polyester suit. I ran to answer my phone and it flew into a nearby chair. It definitely isn't made for a night of bump and grind.
In general, the choice of a wrist corsage is the strangest part of the chicken creation. Wouldn't it be simpler to affix a leg or wing of chicken to a boutonniere? A chicken flower crown, even? It's a slippery slope from prom corsage to KFC sponsoring an entire fried chicken themed wedding, complete with a gravy fountain. While I'm happy enough to munch on the Colonel's famous recipe every once in a while, it's probably best to keep it away from floral arrangements and high school students altogether.