From the Philippines to the world: The history of Jollibee fast food
From ice cream parlour to fast food empire. This is the most famous and recognizable fast food in the whole of the Philippines
There's no Filipino child who doesn't know the cute giant bee wearing that red vest, with a bowtie and chef's hat. In fact, even children who are just learning how to speak learn the giant bee's name first.
It’s also hard to imagine a time when birthdays took place without the large bootylicious bee breakdancing and clapping his gloved hands, giving adults and children a good time.
From an ice cream parlour that sold another man’s ice cream, to a global power that saves ailing restaurant chains, the company is at the peak of its game, and Jollibee's history is an inspiration to all Filipinos.
It all began in 1975 when Tony Tan Caktiong and his family opened a Magnolia ice cream parlour in Cubao, Quezon City and Quiapo Manila. The outlet later began offering hot meals and sandwiches upon request from customers. When the food items became more popular than the ice cream, the family decided to convert the ice cream parlour into a fast food restaurant which became the first Jollibee outlet in 1978.
The Cubao Ice Cream House
Why did they choose a bee as their brand logo and name it Jollibee? The bee was chosen because it implied hard work, while its association with honey evoked the sweet life. Jollibee’s first branding efforts are attributed to marketing consultant Manuel Lumba, who first met Tan Caktiong in 1978 when Jollibee was still called “Jolibe”, and the now prolific CEO needed advice on where to steer the business next.
The first Jollibee Fast Food Restaurant in 1978
In one of his interviews, Lumba said that her 6-year-old daughter’s comic book inspired his bee design, then he added a chef’s hat to suggest quality food, a red dinner jacket with a vest to boot, white gloves that reminded him of Disney's Mickey Mouse, and taking inspiration from one of a Filipino Comic book character. From the name Jolibe he add an extra 'L' and 'E' to make it more recognisable as “jolly bee.”
The Familiar Bee logo of Newly polished design Jollibee
In 1978 Yumburger became its flagship product and years later the famous spaghetti was introduced and after that, the beloved fried chicken known today as the Chicken Joy. In 1981, the McDonald's chain planted its roots in the Philippines, but Jollibee already had a strong hold on the Filipino fast-food palate. In the next decade, Jollibee continued to dominate, launching its palabok, Champ hamburger, Jolly Twirls, and in the ‘90s, the Jolly Hotdog and Peach Mango Pie.
More mascots joined in, more menu items were launched and by 1987, Jollibee was a global brand with its first overseas outlet in Brunei and later, other neighboring asian countries like Hong Kong, Vietnam and in all six of the GCC countries in the Middle East, namely the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman
The Jollibee Food Corp. owns and operates numerous restaurant franchises in the Philippines, as well as overseas. As of today, it can also be tasted in the US, which operates 37 stores with its first store in Daly City, California, in 1998. Other locations is in California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington, and Virginia. Other stores are in Manitoba and Ontario in Canada.
Jollibee Manhattan, New York City
Jollibee also conquered Europe when they opened in Milan in 2018. They are currently have stores too in London, Leicester, Liverpool, and Leeds, and arriving in more UK cities soon.
Jollibee Leicester opening day
Some of the Menus in Jollibee UK
In a 2010 interview Tan Caktiong said, "From a rather crude, strange-looking bee that no bank dared to touch back in 1978, Jollibee and his cheeky smile today have become synonymous with a truly Filipino success story that is now a source of patriotic pride. It is estimated that the Jollibee brand is now worth several billion pesos."