From French breakfast sandwiches to Japanese shrimp burgers, the international creations that helped McDonald's win the Great Recession.
- By Sulome Anderson<p> Sulome Anderson is a recent alumna of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and a feature writer with the Daily Star, an English-language newspaper in Beirut. </p>
McDonald’s has over 32,000 locations in 119 countries, and part of its international success is due to clever attempts to appeal to local customers by inventing food tailored to their tastes. From Paris to Delhi, here’s a list of the top ten McDonald’s meals Americans are missing out on.
India: BigSpicy Paneer Wrap
This fast food take on a common Indian street food is both spicy and vegetarian, making it a hit at the 271 McDonald’s locations in India. Made with breaded paneer, a type of South Asian cheese, the BigSpicy Paneer Wrap is one of many vegetarian McDonald’s innovations, which have been so successful that the chain plans to open two all-vegetarian locations in India next year.
Japan: Ebi Filet-O
Part of McDonald’s Japan President Eikoh Harada’s push to tailor food to Japanese taste, the Ebi Filet-O generated sales of 10 million in the first three months after its launch in October 2005. Made with breaded shrimp, this Japanese version of the classic Filet-O-Fish is modeled after the traditional Japanese dish of shrimp tempura and costs around $5.70 in Tokyo.
The Kofteburger is the McDonaldization of kofte, a type of Turkish kebab made with mint and parsley. So authentic that even the bun is sprinkled with parsley, the Kofteburger has been a hit with Turkish customers, and as one American visitor put it, “it’s good but it doesn’t taste like a burger…it tastes very…Turkish.”
Thailand: Samurai Pork Burger
The name says it all. Featuring a pork patty marinated in Teriyaki sauce and smothered in peppers, the Samurai Pork burger is McDonald’s attempt to put a Thai twist on the classic Big Mac, although the fast food giant may be a little off the geographical mark on this one. As one customer asks, “Why does it have a Japanese name when I’m in Thailand?”
Morocco: The McArabia
Priced at about $6.50, variations on the McArabia are available in countries across the Middle East. But Moroccans, especially, seem to have taken to this cumin-spiced flatbread beef sandwich. As one customer told the Global Post, “Honestly, it tastes Moroccan.”
China: Prosperity Burger
A seasonal item only available around the Chinese New Year, the Prosperity Burger is made with beef smothered in black pepper sauce and onions. Customers in China and other East Asian countries can also enjoy local delicacies like taro pie, a variation of the classic apple version, as well as red bean sundaes.
France: Croque McDo
The country that immortalized the “Royale with Cheese” in the classic film Pulp Fiction has another local McDonald’s creation to boast about. This take on the croque-monsieur, the classic French open-faced ham and cheese sandwich, is popular with Parisians and tourists alike. As one American visitor to France exclaimed about the breakfast sandwich in her blog: “this was no American Happy Meal.”
Poland: The WiesMac
This quarter-pound beef patty, translated into English as the “Country Mac,” is served with mustard and horseradish sauce on a sesame bun. “Everytime I eat WiesMac…I want to die,” says one Polish customer in an online discussion, “But it is very tasty.” Apparently, McDonald’s guilt transcends differences of language and culture.
The Mexican version of a McMuffin minus the egg, this international McDonald’s breakfast creation consists of refried beans, cheese, and pico de gallo, or Mexican salsa, atop a muffin. The dish takes its inspiration from molletes, a classic Mexican comfort food.
The Netherlands: McKroket
When McDonald’s first moved to the Netherlands in the seventies, they tried to tempt Dutch customers with erwtensoep, or pea soup. Although that venture was unsuccessful, the McKroket has proven a much more profitable local item. A deep-fried patty of beef ragout on a bun, the McKroket costs roughly $2.50 and is McDonald’s take on the traditional Dutch croquet.