It remains to be seen whether bringing the war on terror to Iraq has put freedom on the march there, as Bush-era neo-cons promised in their pre-war pitch. But right now one thing is for certain: if not freedom, fast food is. The AP reports that after years of brutal bloodshed and thousands of lives lost, Iraqis are taking comfort in very American tastes, like burgers, pizza, and fried chicken, which is known simply as “Kentucky” in and around Baghdad. And although restaurants remain prime targets for lingering sectarian violence, that’s not stopping the hungry masses from getting their happy meals.
Of course, huge global chains aren’t vying for opportunity in a newly emerging market. Big names like KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, which ran operations behind the walls of the Green Zone before the U.S. drawdown, are sitting out of post-war Iraq. Most of the country’s newfound fast food is homegrown. Burger Friends, Mr. Potato, Pizza Boat, and KFG (Kentucky Family Group) are a handful of the businesses taking root. One of the few American enterprises settling in is Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken. While swallowing the “I’m Lovin It” vibe is helping to heal the wounds suffered from years of warfare and violence, we have to wonder what arterial aggressions await the Iraqi people as the first front in their own battle of the bulge opens up.