KFC’s Free Psyduck Pokemon Model Sells for $195 in China

KFC has an unexpected hit on its hands in China, and it’s thanks to people being angry about the severe and ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns imposed by the government.

As Reuters reports(Opens in a new window), on May 21 KFC started giving away Psyduck Pokemon models with meals as part of a promotion for Children’s Day on June 1. Two days later, all the Psyduck models had gone and they started appearing on websites selling for as much as 1,300 yuan (roughly $195) each. Why so much? It turns out Psyduck makes for a good representation of how people are feeling on social media about lockdowns.

Psyduck is a duck Pokemon in a constantly stunned state due to its headache and always trying to calm itself (and its headache) down. Now Psyduck is being used in videos on local social media platforms to represent the feelings of individuals about China’s zero-COVID policy(Opens in a new window) and extremely harsh lockdowns occurring in areas such as Shanghai.

A video posted on the China Live YouTube channel(Opens in a new window) shows the Psyduck music box model KFC was giving away, which dances and is easy to attach stickers to. This resulted in one very popular video being posted on Bilibili showing the Psyduck model holding two signs saying, “I don’t want to take COVID testing” and “I want to go out for fun.” On another social media site called Xiaohongshu, the Psyduck model was posted holding stickers which say “health code” or “travel history code.”

It seems the desire to own and use a Psyduck model on social media is only set to increase in China, with one tech worker named Jun Peng telling Reuters, “I’ve been locked in my place for two months … I am so stressed that I feel as silly as the duck. However even the duck can speak out.” On top of that, a lot of kids also really want the model, but they are competing with a adults to get one.

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China keeps tight control over the internet and responds quickly to information it views negatively. There’s a good chance Psyduck could be added to a blacklist very soon, meaning any posts containing a photo, video, or reference to the name may soon become impossible to post for more than a few minutes before they disappear. Meanwhile, the severe lockdowns have already caused havoc with supply chains and could continue to do so depending on where the next COVID cases appear in the country.

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