Thursday, August 15, 2013

Would you like hash browns with that McBlandwich?

The McDonald’s Egg White Delight breakfast sandwich is a recent brand extension in the U.S. of the popular Egg McMuffin. All McMuffin ingredients have been altered—an egg without a yolk, a whole grain instead of plain English muffin, processed white Cheddar cheese instead of processed American—except for the round of Canadian bacon, which remains in the sandwich unchanged.

By introducing this “healthier” McMuffin, McDonald’s has also inadvertently suggested that we in the U.S. are a bland people craving bland food. Perhaps their thinking is that the U.S. melting pot has melted together so much that our cultural rainbow has morphed into a mottled grey, resulting in an ineffectual breakfast sandwich, aka the McBlandwich.

I tried the Egg White Delight when it was first advertised around the city. And I wanted to like it, except for the fact that I couldn’t really taste it. Living in Los Angeles, I wondered if this was a regional sandwich created just for this area, since Southern Californians and Hollywood types have a reputation for healthier eating. But that didn’t make sense, since those healthy Angelenos don’t eat at McDonald’s, right?

One wish for this McBlandwich—surely researched to death by corporate chefs at the chain's Illinois headquarters—was some revved up cheese to add more flavor or color. You know, perhaps some jalapeño-flecked Jack cheese instead of the white “Cheddar” cheese—unless of course the Egg White Delight's marketing goal was for it to be as white as possible. Or did McDonald’s not think we bland-palated every-people could handle a sandwich more exciting than ourselves?

I'm only jumping to such conclusions because it feels as if the sandwiches McDonald's makes in a given country are representative of what McDonald's thinks that nation's palate is. When traveling, I always check out the local McDonald's to see what's different. In Europe I’ve noticed flavorful sandwiches on offer that represent different cuisines and countries, all made with exotic breads. One example is from Paris, where I found both an Italian vegetable sandwich on focaccia and a spicy Indian chicken tikka sandwich in a seasoned yellow wrap years before the introduction of their Snack Wrap stateside. So maybe McDonald’s believes other countries are more exciting than their own, and that’s why those countries get the exciting sandwiches and we don’t.

This idea really hit home on a recent trip to Australia. I stopped in a McDonald’s in Sydney one morning to see if they too offered the McBlandwich. Instead I discovered Australia had its own play on the Egg McMuffin. They had the Chorizo McMuffin.

The who what? Did you say chorizo? Yes, yes! The Chorizo McMuffin rocked my world, and I’ll tell you why. Per a typical McMuffin, there was the egg with yolk and English muffin and processed yellow cheese, but ah, the Canadian bacon circle of meat was replaced with a Canadian-bacon shaped chorizo patty. Ingenious! This just-spicy-enough addition elevated the sandwich to new heights. I couldn’t believe my taste buds, even without the sandwich’s thick tomato relish, which I asked them to hold so as not to cloak my taste experience.
(Note: It was good with relish too.)

Here's the curious question. Doesn't McDonald’s realize that the U.S. has been experiencing an expansion of its national flavor palate exponentially for years? Food magazines know this, supermarkets know this, and certainly other restaurants know this. Also, don't they realize that in Los Angeles specifically—with a predominance of South American immigrants who love spicy food as well as Spanish sausage like chorizo—that a Chorizo McMuffin would bring much happiness to the local McDonald’s-loving masses?

All right, I admit it's also possible that my Australian Chorizo McMuffin tasted amazing because the ingredients were less processed and more locally sourced than they are here. But regardless, when I compare the foods offered in one country to my own (like potato chips), and the ones offered here are as homogenous as milk, I can only conclude one thing: That a large food behemoth like McDonald’s only speaks to its home country in one language, one that best suits their need to sell to the masses. It's called the language of bland, spoken to what they think is a generic U.S. populace in a place they call bland land. If I never left the states I wouldn't know any better, but I've seen the truth, which is that they sell exciting sandwiches everywhere but here. Sorry McDonald's, I'm not lovin' it.

Until we eat again,
Marly

2 comments:

  1. I'm sure you do, but since you're discussing breakfast sandwiches at the Arches, you do know how to avoid the flat folded 'omelet' version of egg and get a freshly cooked 'sunnyside,' yes?

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  2. No I don't know about that. Used to work there, but long ago, and only order the McMuffin now and then (and the Egg White Delight once). Do tell!

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