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. Often times being sold next to each other in shops. If you couldn’t afford an Apple, you’d get an Oppo. And the name? Apple directly translates to “pingguo” in Chinese, Oppo means nithing, but sounds a bit like apple (without the copyright being infringed. Classic 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 KFC were steaming through the country 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. They did this by doing such things as making staff wash their hands and providing a clean toilet to poop in. Not exactly reinventing the wheel, but in late 80,s China different to what they’d been used to.
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”. It’s aim? To provide 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. Even now Dicos 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 even the global evil that is McDonalds.
So is it any different from KFC and dare we ask, is it any good? In the early days, it was definitely a KFC rip-off, but over time it has expanded into its own niches. Joys such as its rice bun chicken burger being particularly interesting. Its fried chicken is definitely palliated more towards the Chinese palate, being crispier and Colonely.
So that’s the skinny on eating in Dicos in China! But, 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 and certainly not a KFC to go to a Dicos.
But that is not say she is not without her charms. If the fast big hitters are out of town, Dicos will happily keep you warm for an evening.