Fast food geography: Discover Kazakhstan through Hardee’s

Founded in 1960, Hardee’s is known for its all-American burgers. But the chain has international restaurants in many countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan. By following the star, you’ll learn the basics about the Central Asian nation.

Astana and Almaty are the cities you should know

You’ll find Hardee’s in Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, and Almaty, it’s largest city (which has about 1,500,000 people). Astana is closer to Russia while Almaty is closer to China.

Kazakhstan is at the cultural crossroads

Hardee’s Kazakhstan locations are run by Americana, a Kuwaiti group that brings many American restaurants to the Middle East and Central Asia. They have a halal meat certification (necessary in strict Muslim countries), but that’s not required to do business in Kazakhstan. The growth of Islam was rapid after the fall of the USSR, and now 76% of Kazakhs identify as Muslims.

However, the nation is officially secular, and the former USSR’s influence and 26% Christian population reflect the country’s cultural and ethnic diversity.

Kazakhstan’s currency is the tenge

Pick up a Super Star combo—a burger, drink, and fries—for 1250 tenge. It replaced the ruble after the collapse of the USSR. 1250 tenge is about $6.80 USD. This is the currency’s symbol: Kazakhstani tenge.

America is cool…or at least exotic

Obviously, it’s a fool’s errand to index an entire nation’s sentiments toward the United States of America. That said, Hardee’s Kazakhstan emphasizes its association with Western values and American culture (it is part of the Americana group, after all).

That squares with the popularity of English among young Kazakhs. It also explains why the Hardee’s star did promotions with a KFC mascot dressed as a star-spangled bald eagle.

In Kazakhstan, Hardee’s is…sexy

We’ll leave you to interpret the broader cultural implications of sexy Hardee’s. But in Kazakhstan, the chain actually promoted itself with a “Sex, Hardee’s, and Rock & Roll” contest.

The Facebook page for Hardee’s Kazakhstan is filled with sexual burger imagery. Lest you think it’s the work of one loose cannon social media manager, Hardee’s also launched a “Hardee’s for Ladies” campaign, featuring a sexy silhouetted burger fan. Presumably, it’s an attempt to expand the Hardee’s market to female fast food fans.

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