Pollo FelÝz | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Pollo Felíz

In the U. S. fast food advertisers show you images of sizzling steaks or golden fried chicken. Gets your juices flowing.

Not here. Apparently, what whets Mexican appetites is pictures of cheerful barnyard animals.


Pollo Feliz—the Happy Chicken—is a Mexican fast food chain, one of two permitted to operate in San Miguel. (The other is Domino's Pizza.) The smiling white hen with the feathery thumbs-up is as recognizable as the golden arches. This poster is announcing the opening of the new Mega-Pollo Feliz.

While a few corporate-style fast food chains operate in Mexico, their outlets are far outnumbered by independent restaurants. The food scene is much like that of 50 years ago in the States—a good thing if you ask me.

But this can lead to some unique experiences. In his helpful and informative book, Live Well in Mexico, Ken Luboff tells about ordering chicken in a small country restaurant, only to see, a few minutes later, a small boy out in the yard chasing a chicken. In the tech biz, we would call that vertical integration.

Not so at Pollo Feliz. Refrigerated trucks roll up daily and unload crates of prepared chickens, ready to throw on the grill.


Actually, their grilled chicken is quite tasty. The new restaurant is clean and well-lit, and seats at least a hundred—odd, given that most people order take-out. It's probably the biggest restaurant in town.

Funny how introducing fast food to third-world countries can do that. The biggest restaurant in Moscow is McDonalds, and even so, it was so crowded, I didn't wait around for a Big Mac.


They even have Pollo Felices in Los Angeles (just as there are McDonalds in Querétaro). Their signature promotion gimmick is guys standing outside in chicken suits, waving at passing motorists. I read somewhere that Tom Cruise got his acting start as a Pollo Feliz mascot.

Mexico is adopting American advertising methods. Showing the finished product instead of the raw materials. This poster shows an alleged family enjoying actual cooked chicken. Revolutionary.


Their ads are not very polished yet. This has got to be one of the cheesier advertising photographs of all time.

The models are all looking in different directions. Can you say "Photoshop?"

Dad may need a Heimlich maneuver.

Mom got screwed; she only got a wing. Part of the sad legacy of machismo culture. Under the circumstances, everyone is just too darn cheerful.

And there's something eerie about the scene, snapped just before a group chomp. The family that chews together...