When you’re traveling abroad, one fun thing to do is try out some of the unique dishes that you would never see at home. International fast food chains and restaurants pique the curiosity of travellers by offering up a selection of local food fare. Jollibee is a fast-food chain, that is a huge hit in the Philippines. So let’s find out why and check out the top 10 untold truths of Jollibee.
10. From Ice Cream Shop To The King Of Fast Food
Why would someone give up a prestigious career in chemical engineering to open up an ice cream shop? Especially after all the years of studying it takes to get a chemical engineering degree. Well, in 1975, this actually did happen. Not only did Tony Tan ditch chemical engineering to open up some ice cream shops, but he also branched out into the fast food world. This all happened when the buzz surrounding McDonald’s was strong, and Tony was inspired. He flew to the USA from the Philippines and studied the methods used that had made McDonald’s successful. Then he implemented those methods upon his return to the Philippines. What did he do exactly? He opened a burger joint, created mascots that were fun and colorful and sold burgers at a very cheap price. In time, this fast-food restaurant became quite popular. So popular in fact, that it soon became the most popular fast-food joint in the Philippines. The owner of Jollibee clearly made the right decision by getting into the restaurant game. From chemical engineer to burger baron – not the everyday origin story.
9. Earthworms Were Never Used In The Burgers
Back in the 1980s, rumors had been spreading around about how Jollibee’s burgers were made with earthworms. And, that cringeworthy rumor made some folks think twice about going to their favorite Filipino fast food joint for a while. The rumor quieted down but resurfaced in 2003 when a viral email was circulated about how Jollibee’s burgers were made with worms. That definitely was not good for business. The email had stated that the burger joint had used earthworms to keep the cost of production to a minimum. The email also said that this secret ingredient made the burgers more addictive. However, the source of these emails was never found out. They had even stated that Tony Tan not only enjoyed eating insects, but also ate worms as well. Fortunately, this was all proven to be untrue. The same rumor had been circulating about McDonald’s and other burger restaurants as well. Additionally, the cost of earthworms is a lot higher than you would imagine. At $30 a pound, worms definitely cost way more than than the beef for hamburgers ever would. This means that if you have a craving for a burger from Jollibee, don’t worry. You can relax and enjoy your meal because there are no worms being used as secret ingredients.
8. They Beat Their Competitors In No Time
Today, for any business to beat out their competitors you have to be incredibly savvy and brilliant in marketing. That’s really what it all boils down to. Your product may not be better than your competitors, but if your marketing game is top notch then that might not matter so much. Tony Tan knew exactly how to do just that. He used elite marketing to make Jollibee the King of the Philippines, beating out all the other local fast food joints over there. His goal was to make Jollibee the number one place for fast food diners to visit in the Philippines. Local competition was pushed to the side as Jollibee quickly climbed up the ladder of restaurant success – surpassing Delifrance, Lao Dong, Jinja Bar & Bistro, Chowking, Greenwich Pizza, Mang Inasal, and Red Ribbon among other pre-established restaurants. Jollibee became so successful that it even out performed all of the Burger King franchises in that country as well. How did Tony Tan do it? That is the million dollar question. Credit a brilliant marketing mind and knowing exactly what your clientele is looking for, then delivering. No matter how great the marketing may be you still need to back it with tasty menu options. So when you become more successful than a worldwide fast food behemoth like Burger King, you must be doing something right. Right indeed, as Jollibee has gone global with over 1200 restaurants in several countries. Usually most fast food franchises expand into the Phillipines. This is a case of a local Philippines franchise taking on the world.
7. Their Menu Items Are Completely Out Of This World
You expect to see a variety of fast food items when you go to popular restaurants like Burger King and McDonald’s. If you don’t want to order a burger, then you can always order a fish or chicken sandwich, or a wrap. And it wasn’t that long ago that McDonald’s tried to add pizza to their menu, a failed attempt that did not work out. At Jollibee, the variety of menu options offered is nothing like you are used to. That is an absolute promise. Where else can you get a pineapple burger that is topped with bacon, or a deep-fried tuna pie? Looking for an original breakfast? You can get a Jollibee’s breakfast of rice, egg and tomato with Spam? And, where else could you order steak, Asian noodles, fried chicken or spaghetti alongside the typical fast food burgers? You would only get such a variety of menu choices from Jollibee of course! When you go to Jollibee, it’s like you’re going to several fast food joints all rolled into one. And that is really what makes this chain so absolutely unique. With so many choices, the biggest decision will be what to order.
6. The Jollibee Mascots Are Crazy
Everyone knows of Ronald McDonald and the other fast food franchise mascots (some more popular than others). These mascots are there to push the brand and to provide entertainment for the kids,as well as some adults. Well, it’s not surprising that Jollibee has their own funny and crazy mascots. Because when it comes to the fast food wars it’s your mascot on the front lines. Leading the charge for this franchise is their main mascot, Jollibee, which is literally, a jolly bee. Not only will you get a laugh, as this bee is incredibly happy and joyful, but the way Jollibee dances will also blow you away. How can a bee be capable of such amazing dance moves? This mascot has got it going on when it comes to the dance floor. You’d be forgiven for thinking that he has another career besides being the intriguing and crazy mascot for a fast food joint in the Philippines. Part time backup dancer for Jennifer Lopez maybe? In addition to Jollibee, there’s also Twirlie, who dances and sings in the dessert area. Not only are these mascots incredibly entertaining but they’re also TV stars. Along with other characters Yum, Hetty and Popo, Jollibee and Twirlie had their own TV series called Jollitown which ran for six seasons.
5. Jollitown Was A Huge Hit With The Kids
As we briefly just mentioned Jollitown was a TV series seen in the Philippines that was quite successful. Jollitown starred all of the franchise mascots such as of course, Jollibee and Twirlie, as well as Popo who represents the fries, Hetty who represents the spaghetti, and Mr. Yum, who represents the burgers. The mascots always had interesting stories and adventures on the TV program and kids loved the show. Jollitown began as part of the Jollibee’s 30th anniversary in 2008. In order to celebrate this huge milestone, the GMA Network launched the TV series for kids! The show aired on Sunday mornings until 2010 when the series ended up moving to the ABS-CBN Network for the fourth and fifth season. However, after that, the TV series ended up moving back to the GMA network for a little while until it finally ended for good in October of 2013. If you’re thinking that you have never seen the show, it’s because this TV series was only available to residents in the Philippines. Yes, kids in the Philippines absolutely adored this show and even though new shows are no longer being made, kids can still be entertained to this day watching reruns of the old episodes of Jollitown.
4. Jollibee Is Known All Over The World Thanks To The Internet… And Glee
Jollibee may be the most successful fast food franchise in the Philippines, however, since only 150 of its 1200 restaurants are in other markets, they may not be the first restaurant to come to most people’s minds when talking about fast food. If you travel to or live in the Philippines, or if you happen to live near one of the 150 foreign locations, you know something most people have never heard of. A secret find if you will. Something that you know about, that most people in other parts of the world are not familiar with. However, thanks to the internet, so many of these obscure places in different parts of the world are now known. And, this is certainly the case when it comes to Jollibee. As they say, word travels fast and while Jollibee will never be mistaken for Mickey D’s, their reputation is growing outside of the Philippines thanks to the internet. But, the internet is not the only reason that those who’ve never been to the Philippines know about Jollibee. The fast food joint made a brief appearance on Glee, the award-winning TV musical. The restaurant was seen in the background of a scene and quickly became a trending topic on Twitter. As a result, the Jollibee mascots started appearing in videos posted to YouTube and Facebook. Additionally, they have been making appearances at birthday parties for kids in other parts of the world as well. Jollibee, Twirlie, Popo, and Hetty have come a long way. From simply being known to kids in the Philippines, they are now showing up at birthday parties in the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK, among other countries. This is all partly due to that brief moment on Glee and the power of the internet.
3. Jollibee Was Once Called Jolibe
You wouldn’t think that a simple change in the way a word is spelled would have much of an impact, however, in some cases it definitely does. In fact, the fast-food chain initially spelled the name Jolibe with only one “L”and one “E”. Tony Tan named his restaurant Jolibe because he wanted the name to represent a happy or jolly busy bee. That was the inspiration behind Tony Tan’s catchy name. However, initially, the name choice did not work out too well since it wasn’t obvious how to pronounce it. Tan’s marketing expert, Manuel Lumba, suggested that Jolibe change the name to Jollibee (extra L and E). Tan took the advice and this change in spelling made a world of difference. When Jolibe became Jollibee in the late 70s, the business started to flourish and started to take over the Philippines as the king of fast food restaurants. This couldn’t have been just a coincidence. The name change and the restaurant’s growth go hand in hand. One of the best things Tan did in the early days was take the marketer’s suggestion because it really did kickstart the future success of the franchise. Think about it, Tan was inspired by a happy busy bee when it came to naming his restaurant. Jollibee makes it easy for the general public to get that same impression.
2. Jollibee Was Not The First Mascot
You would think that the first mascot for Jollibee would be the one and only Jollibee, but you may be surprised to learn otherwise. What if we told you that this jolly bee was not the first mascot for the fast food chain. In fact, that happy and active bee was not even in the picture until years later. In fact, it was Mr. Yum, the mascot representation of the Jollibee’s Yum burger, who was the first franchise mascot. And he gained in popularity really quickly. Mr. Yum became one of the big attractions at Jollibee for kids of all ages. Kids loved him and so did their parents. He was extremely charismatic and plenty of fun. Of course everyone loved Mr. Yum, he was the incarnation of an incredibly delicious menu item. I mean, everyone wanted to go to Jollibee to enjoy a Mr. Yum burger. Not only was he the first, but Mr. Yum also looked quite different when he appeared on the scene. He was initially green and was much more slender than the more recent version of the mascot. Today, Mr. Yum is red and a lot plumper. This is not surprising since he’s probably been living off of eating Yum Burgers everyday and it doesn’t look like he intends to give them up any time soon. And really, who can blame him since they are so delicious?
1. Jollibee’s Just Recently Expanded To Italy And The UK
Yes, Jollibee was founded in the Philippines and the majority of their restaurants are still located there. However the franchise started slowly spreading their wings by opening a small number of restaurants in other parts of the world. Expansion continues to this day with recent restaurant openings in Milan, Italy, and another in London, England in October 2018. The franchise sought out London due to the fact that there is a large Filipino community in the UK. But it wasn’t just Filipino ex-pats who were anxiously awaiting its arrival. The Jollibee franchise grand opening was finally here and due to open up first thing in the morning at 8 am, people began lining up to get their first taste from the Filipino fast-food joint as early as 3 am. Lineups like this are usually reserved for when a new iPhone is being released or on the first day of a blockbuster movie release. Not usually for the opening of a restaurant. Jollibee’s reputation had obviously preceded them and the people could not wait to try out something from the Jollibee menu! Considering the London restaurant was supposed to open in 2016, the wait for some must have been unbearable. It looks like Jollibee has fans in many places.