Are America’s cultural exports worse than junk food?
McDonald’s is the number one fast-food company in the world, in part because it is skilled at adapting to the tastes of a particular culture or country. Developed in America, this skill has now been honed in 119 countries. For example, in France and Italy, McDonald’s serves wine; in Turkey and other Muslim-majority countries, it serves halal meat; and in Israel, customers find dairy-free kosher under the Golden Arches.
When foreign customers say, “We are happy to buy this, but don’t try to sell us that,” the smart company listens. There are limits, however. Big Macs and other menu staples, friendly service, and clean kitchens and restrooms are standard in every one of McDonald’s 38,000 outlets, because the company’s market research shows that every part of that package has universal appeal.
In addition to being universally appealing, service and cleanliness are good for people—all people, regardless of location, language, culture, or religion. This is not true of certain other parts of the McDonald’s experience, which may be universally appealing but are definitely not good for people—the fries, for example, which in addition to being the most frequently ordered item on the menu, are also the least nutritious, loaded as they are with fat, salt, and toxic compounds formed during the super-heated cooking process.
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