Jollibee- A Delicious Pinoy Cultural Phenomenon

by - 8:05 AM

Our Chickenjoy from Jollibee at our General Assembly. Photos by Nep-C Ledesma

Cheesy Yumburger from Jollibee. Photo by Nep-C Ledesma

If you're Pinoy and you find yourself watching all these Jollibee mukbang videos and feeling all invested in how the content creators outside of the country will like the food, have you ever wondered about how deeply rooted Jollibee is in our lives? Why does this fast food brand stand out so much for us? Why do we care if the Tom, Dick, and Harry or the born overseas Juan likes its offerings? Why does it matter that the pambansang spaghetti isn't fire for other people? Why does seeing them actually liking the Jolly Spaghetti make Pinoys feel all warm and fuzzy? There's so much Pinoy pride in Jollibee being shared to the world.

Our usual Jollibee Order- Jolly Spaghetti, Palabok, Yumburger, Cheesy Yumburger, Chickenjoy half original and half spicy and Peach Mango Pie

I grew up around missionary kids at church and they had divided feelings about the spaghetti.  Apparently for some, they can't wrap their heads around the fact that Jolly Spaghetti is sweet and has hotdogs while some of them think that this taste profile is the best thing ever since sliced bread! One of my pals came to visit years later and getting her Jolly Spaghetti fix was top priority before she went back home.

Pinoy friends back then were pretty much a hundred percent inlove with Jollibee, no questions about it. Almost everyone I know loves the Yum Burger, adores the Burgersteak, and the Palabok is actually my personal fave. Oh, and don't get me started on the Chickenjoy. I don't think I've ever seen anyone not fall inlove with this famous crispilicious and juicylicious fried chicken. 

But why are Pinoys so emotionally invested in Jollibee? I can't speak for everyone, but if you care to listen, here is why I will always feel a deep love for this resto. 

Growing up, Jollibee has been part of a lot of the good memories of my life with family and friends. When it finally opened its first branch in Davao City, we didn't even go all that often because at the time, eating out wasn't really a thing in our family. We would only ever eat out for birthdays, celebrating good grades, or graduations. There was a magical quality to Jollibee that just made kids happy to be there. I see now that my parents deciding to take us there was a gift geared towards making US feel special. When the day is about making the kids feel loved and letting us choose, we didn't go to just any resto. We went to Jollibee.

They put a special touch in all the food we love. It took Filipino style spaghetti, that is popular in every celebration at home, and made it readily available for every kid and adult wanting that party treat. The burgers are all delicious and flavorful and the special sauce--- I don't believe I've ever had it anywhere else. Jollibee is happiness and beautiful memories in a plate--- or box, if you're doing takeout. The nostalgia in each bite brings to my mind precious moments as a kid I got to spend with my parents and friends. Moments I can't really have anymore with my folks. I remember Kiddie parties I got invited to, and I still remember that peach mango pie my grandma and I would enjoy together whenever I got the chance to save up for her pasalubong during high school. 

The smell of their food especially the burgers? Truly langhap sarap. You would even get teased whenever you came home from Jollibee because everybody knows that delicious smell! 

In the later years, we could have Jollibee more often and we didn't need special occasions to make new "Jabee" memories. Yes--- a lot of Pinoy toddlers have referred to it that way. Both my kids did for sure.  And some of the adults I know actually refer to it that way endearingly. It was the most reliable meal you could get as a student and the most convenient choice for when you're travelling.

My family in the States used to frequent the Jollibee branch in California and one of my brothers even worked there when he was a student. From time to time, if they wanted a taste of home, having some Chickenjoy and Burgersteak really hit the spot. In case you were wondering, yes--- Jollibee in California tastes the same as the ones we have here according to my mom. Funny thing is, whenever she came home, she STILL would ask for a Jollibee date and order the same thing each and every time.

Jollibee is amazing at telling stories that tug at your heartstrings. I especially loved the Valentine series of advertisements they had as they unfolded beautiful love stories and everyone just tuned in to each installment. Kwentong Jollibee just connected with each Pinoy in a different way and some were even downright relatable. I mean, who can forget, "Two piece Spicy Chickenjoy with extra rice... and upgrade to pineapple juice." That one got me good. Still makes me cry. Those series of ads stayed with me for a long time and they still have the same effect on me whenever I rewatch them.

And the BEE. Let's not forget about THE BEE. To this day, I am still completely enamored by their Jollibee mascot. It will never stop being the most adorable fast food icon for me. These days you see him bustin' moves that I have never possessed the talent to actually perform myself. My kids love this mascot so much that both of them grew up hugging and kissing the statue at every store's door. Both always got extra excited at parties whenever he made an appearance.

Jollibee just IS Pinoy. Even when you argue that some of the menu items aren't Pinoy, this fast food giant really took these dishes, made them its own, and set them apart from all the others. The taste of all their dishes is so distinct that it's impossible to mistake it for any other resto's offerings.

Our usual Jollibee Order- Jolly Spaghetti, Palabok, Yumburger, Cheesy Yumburger, Chickenjoy half original and half spicy and Peach Mango Pies

So yeah, I'm invested because Jollibee is more than just a fast food resto and it's more than just the menu item people use for their mukbangs. It's associated with pure joy and home. It was part of our journey as Pinoy kids growing up, and it has ingrained itself  as the cultural phenomenon we have all come to love.

Simply put, Jollibee just represents a lot of the flavor profiles we grew up loving as a people and it encapsulates happy times and memories etched into our hearts. 

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  1. Jolibee has been embedded in Pinoy millennials and gen z's, and in the future, some Americans as well! "Isa pa, isa pa, isa pa'ng chickenjoy!" The fast food giant really went hard on their Marketing efforts that we have associated them with our childhood days. Only a few brands are able to do that.