Mc Donald’s Uber Alles

If you notice the categories I use for posting items, I’ve added one for Mc Donald’s. In each place I visit that has a Mc Donald’s, I’m going to write a separate post giving a brief description of their menu, prices, and other things I find different.

Why would I do this? Why would an American go all the way around the world to eat at Mc Donalds?

Good question.

Because Mc Donald’s is the cultural equivalent of the compulsories in figure skating.

Let me explain….

In figure skating, they used to have the compulsories. That is where the “figure” in figure skating came from. In addition to the performance which they designed, everyone had to do a series of “figures” in the ice with their skate. Everyone had to do the exact same thing. It was an equal basis on which to evaluate skaters which didn’t have any artistic component. It was just ability.

I wanted something I could find in most every country that would be slightly different, yet similar enough to make comparisons, and see if those difference can be used to illuminate the differences between places. A compulsory for countries if you will. Something to use as an easy to understand proxy for something very complicated: culture. The obvious choices were international brands: Coke, Pepsi, Mc Donald’s, Mercedes, Nestle, etc. Not all of them are American brands. In fact, being American was really irrelevant to what I wanted to do.

We like to think of Mc Donalds’ as an American company. In a way it is, but in reality its a global company that happens to be headquartered in the US. That is not a small distinction. It was hard to find any differences in Coke products other than packaging. The formula might be a bit different in places, but that’s hard to really show. Most consumer goods companies (Nike, Addias, etc) didn’t have much difference in product between countries other than their advertisements. Cell phone manufacturers pretty much sell the same phones and its sort of hard to compare unless you buy a phone everywhere.

Mc Donald’s was the easy choice. Its ubiquitous and every locality does it a bit different. They have some things which are the same everywhere (chicken nuggets, big mac) and other things which are unique (Spam and rice in Hawaii).

I have no particular love for Mc Donald’s. I’m not going to eat at every Mc Donald’s, or even most of them. I’m also not anti-Mc Donalds however, nor am I an anti-globalization zealot.

So here is the first Mc Donald’s review: Papeete, Tahiti.

A large Big Mac combo was 890 XPF or about US$10. I went all Pulp Fiction and ordered a “Royale Cheese”, which seemed like a smaller version of a quarter pounder. The fries and drink seems about the same size as one in the US. The fries did have “Voted best fries in New Zealand” on the package. The only thing on the menu which I saw which was unique was chicken wings. Plain old chicken wings.


Just a quick update. I’m in the Cook Islands on the island of Rarotonga.

Slight problem with hotel, but shouldn’t be an issue.

The place looks lovely.