Insight & Analysis

Finger lickin’ good?

Published: May 2019

Kentucky Fried Chicken has been market testing chicken flavoured edible nail polishes in Hong Kong and while the campaign has been a success in terms of column inches and social media comment, consumer response has been decidedly mixed.

US fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is looking to prove that its fried chicken really is as “finger lickin’ good”, as its motto claims, by market testing edible nail polishes in Hong Kong.

The chicken chain has so far made lickable, edible fingernail polish available in a limited edition of two flavours: Original, and Hot and Spicy. They come in half ounce square bottles emblazoned with, as you’d expect, the slogan “It’s Finger Lickin Good”.

The edible shades are said to be sourced from natural ingredients and the flavours inspired by KFC’s two fried chicken recipes.

The development of the edible nail polishes came after marketing company Ogilvy & Mather Group (Hong Kong) teamed up with food technologists at the spice company McCormick, which provides KFC with 11 herbs and spices for its ‘secret mix’. The agency has been running the nail polish campaign in Hong Kong.

“Yes, it is actually a real thing,” Anna Mugglestone, Marketing and Communications Director for Ogilvy & Mather Group, assured the New York Times. “I tried it myself in the office when they were doing testing.”

“It tastes like chicken,” she says, adding: “It’s crazy. I don’t know how they do it.”

A more logical question, as the New York Times points out, however, is why on earth KFC would want to go to such lengths. Mugglestone contends that the nail polish is a way “to remind the younger generation” of “the great taste and good times the brand stands for.”

The two flavours have been promoted heavily by KFC Hong Kong on social media, but aren’t available to the general public. “At the moment, we’re not mass producing it,” a KFC spokeswoman informed the BBC. “We are only giving previews to the media to test the market reaction.”

A BBC poll on the merits or otherwise of KFC edible nail polish revealed a wide variety of responses.

“I don’t think that eating nail polish is a good idea. I don’t think it’s elegant behaviour for women to lick their fingers,” says Crystal Zhu, a 27-year-old tourist from mainland China.

Lily Wong from Hong Kong, however, says she’d love to try it. “It is an innovative idea,” said the 17 year-old. “I have never heard of anything like this before… It will be fun to paint nails with my friends.”

“Some people on a diet may use it,” says Twinkle Leung, an 18-year-old student, who believes the nail polish may help quell cravings for fried chicken.

Meanwhile on social media many have expressed incredulity and curiosity, while others have been repulsed. “So gross,” said Facebook user Crystal Lou, while another called Brian Fung suggested a friend try it “so you can taste (fried chicken) while being a vegetarian.”

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