When people around the world think “America”, one of the first things that comes to mind is “McDonald’s”—cheap, cheerful fast food that feeds over 60 million people per day.
To get a handle on that—the UN World Food Programme, which is the “world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security”, feeds 90 million people per year.
Complaining about McDonald’s is as uniquely American as McDonald’s. Take Anna Hess of “Take Part”, who highlights five “culturally ruinous” McDonald’s around the world, (“The Most Shameful McDonald’s Locations Worldwide”) as if Stonehenge was used to build their newest UK outpost.
Hess introduces by saying:
There are no words to describe the utter disappointment a traveler feels when they’re strolling down the Rue de Julien, craving sole meunière and weightless croissants, only to be assaulted by those Golden Arches.
Unless that (American) traveler is blind, they can easily get croissants and baguettes to their heart’s content everywhere but McDonalds—oh wait—at McDonald’s too.
In fact, if you check out McDonald’s menus around the world, you can find some mouthwatering, culturally-appropriate food, from paneer to gazpacho to pitas.
But that doesn’t stem the tide of the writer’s outraged ink.
First stop: McDonald’s in the Louvre. Hess snarks,
Visitors come here from far and wide to enjoy some of the greatest works of art of all time, including the Mona Lisa—and a Le Big Mac with fries, because when in
At best, it’s a popular café that appeals to the wildly-trafficked museum’s visitors and earns millions for the museum, allowing it to invest in more priceless works of art—at worst, it’s a well-designed Pop Art installation among those hallowed halls.
Next on our tour is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a Milanese shopping center. Hess claims “like all malls, old and new, there’s also a McDonald’s there too.” Somehow, that’s supposed to cheapen this historical mall, as if once malls reach a certain age there’s a rule that certain people can’t afford to eat there.
In Bray, Ireland, there’s a cute little McDonald’s in the town hall. Hess clumsily concludes:
A wyvern, the mythological dragon featured on the Brabazon coat of arms, crowns the outside drinking fountain and is a protector for the town and its hall. But even with such a fierce guardian, Ronald could not be kept at bay.
New Hyde Park is home to one of the most unusual McDonald’s in the world—a McMansion. Hyde can’t even muster a kvetch here, claiming:
[this] led to the most elegant American restaurant in the McDonald’s franchise, complete with a glassed-in veranda seating area and a grand staircase.
The building hadn’t been a mansion for over a half a century—and was turned into a restaurant and even a funeral parlor. McDonald’s considered demolishing the dilapidated building but actually saved it—working with the town’s council to preserve the landmark and restore it to its 1926 glory.
downside: no ball pit
And our tour ends at the Piazza della Repubblica in Rome, where a demure McDonald’s exists amongst the columns.
Hess attempts snark again:
The piazza marks the site of the official Roman forum, which dates back to the age of empire; ruins of ancient Roman baths and temples have been uncovered on the south side of the square. Hopefully, a thousand years from now, archaeologists will uncover the ruins of this sacred McDonald’s franchise.
This is anything but holy ground. Considering the amount of blood, guts, vomit and debauchery that the forum saw in its heyday—having a McDonald’s there can’t possibly desecrate it.
Darn it–now I’m hungry.
feeding millions every day isn’t a crime!