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The Victory McDonald’s

We’ve written about it before, but now there is photographic proof. McDonald’s opened a location in the Louvre.

McDonald’s heir beaten by French

Toledo, McDonald's 1967Definitive proof that the French hate freedom:

via Gawker:

A pack of robbers armed with baseball bats beat and robbed 60-year-old Geoffrey McDonald) and his wife in their villa in the south of France.

McDonald’s is in Eygalières, a village in Provence where Brangelina recently purchased a $15 million mansion. The thugs stole $360,000 in cash, jewelery, and passports from the “severely shocked” couple. France is too dangerous, Geoffrey—come home to America, where we will revere you as a demigod and protect you and your loved ones with our lives.

Why does French espresso suck?

Coffee, Cup and BeansIt is no secret why French coffee sucks.  It is because instead of brewing it properly they use the instant variety. But if you ask a Frenchmen about this, he will most likely reply that real French don’t drink “weak American-style coffee,” they drink espresso. The Nescafe Instant Coffee in every store, he’ll say, is just there so tourists have something to drink.

This is a lie, Europeans are second only to Asians in consuming instant coffee. But even if it were true, it does not explain why France, the cafe capitol of the world, has such horrible Espresso.

The New York Times steps in to answer the question.

I want to put it in stronger terms, but I’ll leave it to Duane Sorensen of Stumptown Coffee Roasters, who once asked me: “Why does the coffee in Paris suck so bad?”

Why, indeed?

Maybe it’s because Paris cafes do all the little things wrong: old beans, over-roasted beans, second-rate machines. Coffee is ground in batches, not to order. Order a café crème or noisette and out comes a box of U.H.T. milk, a shelf-stable dairy product. Even the venerable Cafés Verlet (256 rue Saint-Honoré, 011-33-01-42-606-739) ignores a basic rule and keeps roasted beans in open barrels.

The composition of most espresso blends doesn’t help things. James Freeman of Blue Bottle Coffee often points out that the French have a taste for robusta, a low-cost, low-quality bean that gives good crema but can taste thin and harsh. Or, to paraphrase a conversation I had with Corby Kummer, drinking robusta is like putting balsa wood in your mouth.

So there you have it. Not only do the French drink loads of low-quality instant coffee, they also cut corners when brewing their espresso. If you want a quality cup of coffee next time you’re traveling in Paris, you best bet it to find the nearest McDonald’s or Starbucks.  Thankfully they’ve just opened up a new McDonald’s in the Louvre.

(Hat tip: Joey) circa 1996

McDonald’s. It is just about the definition of ubiquitous.

Its beloved golden arches blanket the country from coast to coast. It spends tens of millions of dollars a year on advertising. With 2 million monthly visitors, its corporate website is one of the top 1000 most-visited websites in the county. It has nearly 2 million facebook fans, 20k twitter followers and it even offers free WiFi in most of its American restaurants.

But McDonald’s was not always at the cutting edge of technology. In fact, back in 1996, its website looked like this:

It’s not clear why is “Your Dalmatian Location” as opposed to say “Your Big Mac HQ,” but what is clear is that in 1996, McD’s had little use for its web presence other than to remind visitors of minor trivia. Thanks to the Internet in ’96 project, this fact will live on forever.

Check out their website to catch a glimpse of what the websites of other Mega Corporations looked like 14 years ago.

(Hat tip: Dan R for sharing)

Eat your Big Mac quickly [photos]

I saw this sign in a McDonald’s in Ferndale, Michigan.

I’m not sure when McDonald’s started enforcing time limits on lunch, but if widespread, such a policy would seem to counteract their efforts to establish themselves as a coffee house by offering free WiFi and premium drinks.

Though I suppose the most American thing to do would be to forgo the dining room all together and instead scarf down your lunch while waiting at a red light.


Why our meat is so cheap [chart]

If there is one thing that McDonald’s taught us, it is that Prosperity doesn’t taste like Tofu—it tastes like meat.

Perhaps this is why the most prosperous nation in the world spends so much money subsidizing the cost of meat. What, after all, is the good of all our riches if every man, woman and child in American can’t afford to eat meat on a daily basis?

As the chart below from Good Medicine illustrates, the government directs the vast majority of our food subsidies towards meat, a bit less go towards grains (we need to keep high fructose corn syrup cheap, after all) and the remainder is aimed at side dishes, like vegetables.

Looks about right to me.*

After all, without all those massive meat subsidies, McDonald’s burgers wouldn’t cost less than $1 and all-you-can-eat steakhouses like Fugo-de-Chao probably wouldn’t exist. And that would be a tragedy.

*Truth be told, I tend to think we should eliminate all agricultural subsidies. But absent that, I’ take a little comfort  from the fact that they are making my steak dinner more affordable in the short term.

[Good Health via Consumerist]

Defeating Communism with a Big Mac [McDonald’s]

The happiest bread line in Russian history

When people think of the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is typically images of jubilant Germans tearing down the Berlin Wall that spring to mind. And of course, we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall last November.

But last nail in coffin of Russian Communism did not come until few months later, when McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in Moscow. Once the Soviets learned about Big Macs (or Big Mak, as they put it), there was no turning back. Twenty years later, McDonald’s has stores in over 50 Russian cities, employs more than 25,000 people and has served over 2 billion customers. American capitalism at its finest.

McDonald’s marked the anniversary of its conquest of the Soviet Union with a press release and an amazing photo.  Here are the details:

On January 31, 1990, a ribbon-cutting ceremony kicked off the grand opening of the first restaurant, located in Moscow’s Pushkin Square. It was the world’s largest McDonald’s, with 28 cash registers and enough seating for 700 customers, and people lined up down the block to get their first taste of the famous “Big Mak.” Because Russian people weren’t accustomed to eating finger food, however, there was a bit of confusion; after pondering his Big Mak for some time, one man reportedly ate it with a spoon, while others took their sandwiches apart and ate them layer by layer!

Despite the cultural hurdles, McDonald’s served 30,000 customers on that first day of business, with half of all sales going to the Soviet Children’s Fund, a national organization that helps children. Since then, McDonald’s has grown to more than 240 restaurants in more than 50 Russian cities. We deliver quality food at a great value to a million customers every day in Russia – our fastest-growing market in Europe – with a total of more than 2 billion satisfied customers since we first opened.

Fast Food Empires [maps]

With its 14,000 US locations, McDonald’s, in all its wonderful Dollar-Menu-and-free-Wi-Fi glory, can be found in nearly every community from coast to coast. But because of relatively strict territory guidelines for franchisees, McDonald’s locations seldom have overlapping markets with one another.

The result of this is that while McDonald’s is ubiquitous, it is often not the dominant fast food chain in any given market in terms of restaurant concentration. That honor often goes to one of the seven other large burger chains which together have around 24,000 outlets nationwide.

The folks over at Weather Sealed have put together a series of maps showing the “dominant” burger joint in different regions of the US. Everything in black is dominated by McDonald’s. It is a beautiful picture.

The map is part of an amusing Star Wars analogy of the fast food wars which is worth a read.

Lego Big Mac

I wonder what costs more, the Lego bricks required to build this or a Big Mac Meal itself? Either way, it is making me hungry.

Also, a series of kits to build Lego McDonald’s items would make great Happy Meal toys.

[lets-brick via designboom]

Prosperity is not made from Tofu [McDonald’s]

The recession has been long and hard. Many people have had to give up things or change their consumption habits. But just in case you’ve forgotten, the good times taste like beef.

At least that is the message that McDonald’s is sending.

In honor of the Chinese New Year, McDonald’s has rolled out a new line of Prosperity and Mega Prosperity Burgers across Southeast Asia.

The burgers, which quite frankly look a little gross, come with one or two sauce-coated beef or chicken patties. The promotional website proclaims that “Prosperous Times Are Back” and urges you to celebrate with a Mega Prosperity Burger Meal.

I guess that seems appropriate.


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