Drumstick corsage from KFC: Are fast food chains this desperate for young customers?

Drumstick corsage is available from KFC for prom-goers who want their formal wear to double as a snack. The drumstick corsage is the latest in a slew of marketing stunts aimed at luring the important yet elusive 18- to 34-year-old customer. 

A screenshot of the KFC drumstick corsage. The fried chicken chain is making a limited number of corsages available to peckish prom-goers.

Who said romance was dead? Not KFC, which is helping love-struck teenagers make one of the biggest nights of high school a little more….original.  Original recipe, that is.

The marketing stunts fast food chains are willing to pull to lure the highly coveted 18- to 34-year-old demographic have taken a few odd turns in recent years: Pizza Hut perfume, Burger King’s bacon milkshakes, and Taco Bell’s recent breakfast launch headliner, the Waffle Taco, quickly come to mind.

Now it’s KFC’s turn, and its latest ploy comes just in time for prom season. Enter the drumstick corsage, which is exactly what it sounds like: a floral wrist corsage comprised of baby’s breath flowers and, instead of roses, a piece of KFC fried chicken.  For $20, hungry prom-goers can purchase a floral corsage kit from the Kentucky-based florist Nanz & Kraft,  and a $5 voucher to redeem at a KFC location for the chicken piece of his or her choosing (it doesn’t have to be a drumstick, and it can be either Extra Crispy, Kentucky Grilled Chicken or Original Recipe).

KFC, whose parent company, Yum! Brands, also owns Taco Bell, introduced the product last week in an online ad, which quickly racked up a quarter million views.

“Looking for a corsage that will make your date’s eyes light up and her mouth water? This KFC drumstick corsage is the Secret Recipe to making sure this year’s dance will be one you both remember,” the product description on the Nanz & Kraft website reads.  “Don’t delay. Order today! Just like the last piece of chicken in the bucket, when they’re gone, they’re gone.”

Only 100 chicken corsages are available, which means they will be showing up at a  very small sliver of the proms going on across the country (although a few still appeared to be available for online purchase at press time). But the image of the chicken corsage quickly made the social media rounds, which is the point in the first place. Fast food chains have made a habit of this sort of behavior in the hopes of attracting more young adults, a group that is essential for the fast-food industry's long-term survival but increasingly lured away by fast casual chains like Chipotle. KFC's Yum! Brands sibling, Taco Bell, has been highly successful at courting this group, and other chains are starting to ape Taco Bell tactics in the form of out-there product launches, viral online ads, and cheeky Twitter feeds. KFC's corsage campaign even included a sponsored Buzzfeed article – a listed titled "12 Best Ways to Ask Someone to Prom," with the drumstick corsage as the last item. A chicken corsage isn't the last of this sort of thing we'll see, nor is it likely the weirdest. 

As silly as it is, however, it does coincide in with other prom-industry trends we’re seeing lately. Teens are projected to spend about 14 percent less on prom this year than they did in 2014, and a chicken corsage is a decent value on two fronts: at $20, it runs about $10 cheaper than a traditional corsage, plus it serves as a cost-effective prom night dinner.

Of course, a hefty dry-cleaning bill would wipe out those savings, so try not to get chicken grease on that pricey dress or rental tux.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.