Storytime! Did you ever hear the story of Darth Plagueis? He could even cheat death… Wrong story. Did you hear the story about Oppo? Oppo is one of the biggest phone makers in the world. And popular in developing countries for their reliable smartphones. They’re a perfect example of Chinese soft power. But what’s the background on Oppo? Oppo began as a knock off maker of the iPod. With them often being sold next to each shop. If you couldn’t afford an Apple, you’d get an Oppo. And the name? Apple directly translates to “pingguo” in Chinese. But Oppo, well it sounds like Apple. Bootlegging 101.
But you don’t stroll on this page to read about dead sith lords (turns out he couldn’t cheat death). Nor are you here for a lesson on how Oppo turned itself from an iPod rip-off into a global empire. You’re here for the Dicos.
Believe it or not, it is not the first fast-food restaurant to offer fried chicken from buckets. As well as chicken burgers and fountain cola in China shock horror that goes to KFC. Deng Xiaoping initially opened the door in 1978. And by 1988, it steamed trough opening restaurant after restaurant. I’ve written extensively about why it was so popular here. But to sum things up nice and easily, the Chinese already did Fried Chicken. But KFC revolutionized the fried chicken concept. By doing such things as making staff wash their hands and providing clean space to poop in.
McDonald’s joined the party a few years later, but KFC was like a steamroller. The age-old question of whether to innovate or imitate then came up. And in 1994, Tianjin Ding Qiao Food Service started the brand “Dicos”. With the aim of providing fried chicken and burgers in buckets. But! They would offer the franchises for much cheaper than KFC!
Dicos thus became and still is to an extent the first fast food restaurant of any size to hit places. Especially outside the big industrial areas. And even now are at a hell of a lot of train stations, airports, and cities that can’t afford an actual decent franchise. Using this method, Dicos has managed to get itself to being the 3rd biggest franchise in China. Above Mcdonalds.
So is it any different from KFC and dare we ask, is it any good? In the early days, it was definitely KFC rip-off. But overtime, it has expanded into its own niches. With such joys as its rice bun chicken burger being particularly interesting. Its fried chicken is definitely palliated more towards their taste being much crispier and a lot less Colonely.
So that’s the skinny on eating in Dicos in China! So the 5 gazillion dollar question – should you eat at Dicos? Well, I’m reminded of the age old phrase. When talking about a lady of questionable looks. Namely “I wouldn’t crawl over her to get to your mate”. This sums up Dicos. You wouldn’t walk past a Burger King to get to Dicos.
2019 Update! Here’s a nice photo from my last trip to Dicos at Futian station. Seeing as this blog has been so popular, I’ll be doing a Dicos menu blog soon!
Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.