It Takes a Smuggler to Satisfy KFC Cravings in Gaza

The fried chicken isn't exactly fresh by the time it arrives. But for Palestinians craving a taste of the outside world, smuggled KFC is still finger lickin' good.

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A smuggler carries food from a KFC in Egypt to be delivered via an underground tunnel linking the Gaza Strip to Egypt, in Rafah, on May 13, 2013.

Colonel Sanders would be proud. While the 74-year-old secret recipe for his fried chicken has remained firmly under wraps, cravings for his deep-fried deliciousness have become so widespread that an entrepreneur has begun smuggling KFC to customers in the Gaza Strip using secret underground tunnels. According to the New York Times, Khalil Efrangi, 31, runs a small shop in Gaza called Yamama that will deliver a 12-piece bucket of KFC for $27, about twice what it costs across the border in Egypt, where the food is prepared.

Since Israel strengthened the blockade on its Gazan border with Egypt in 2007, “People have used the hundreds of underground tunnels that connect Egypt and Gaza to smuggle in everything from motorcycles to fish to brides,” reports the New York Daily News. So KFC seems like a natural extension for the clandestine trade route, even if the contraband meals can take up to four hours to arrive.

(MORE: KFC’s Colonel Sanders: He Was Real, Not Just an Icon)

The idea for the illicit operation began with a craving. According to the Christian Science Monitor, a few years ago Efrangi’s employees first ordered food for themselves from a KFC restaurant in the Egyptian city of El Arish, about 35 miles away. After that meal was successfully smuggled in, Efrangi decided to start a delivery business for all Gazans. The idea quickly caught on — Yamama got more than 20 orders a few hours after he advertised the business on Facebook.

(More: Entering Gaza: The Hard Way In From Egypt)

Now Efrangi employs two taxi drivers, several smugglers and a fleet of motorbikes that stand ready to fetch fried chicken, fries, coleslaw and apple pies. And although the food is long past its prime, “It’s delicious even as it’s not hot,” Aboud Fares, 22, told Xinhua.  In other words, the Colonel’s secret recipe is still finger lickin’ good, even at room temperature.