One great thing about burgers is their power to unite the world by showing us that we don’t necessarily understand each other’s cultures very well. Case in point is the latest Big America promotion that began at McDonald’s in Japan this week. It introduces a series of four burgers with thoroughly American names and vaguely American descriptions:
► The promotion kicks off with the double-decker (although only one layer has beef) Grand Canyon Burger. And what says American West better than a cooked egg, mozzarella and Cheddar cheese and steak sauce made with soy and liquid smoke?
► The Las Vegas Burger is touted as “reminiscent of a fine dinner in Las Vegas.” Well, only if you’re dining at McDonald’s. But perhaps the description refers to its “impressive cream cheese sauce” or that, in Sin City’s spirit of excess, the burger patty is topped with sliced beef.
► I rather like the idea of pastrami bacon. It’s on the Broadway Burger along with that indulgent cream-cheese sauce as well as mustard sauce. It all represents the “rich, unique combination of materials” (according to Google Translate) that is the Big Apple.
► The Caesar Salad is usually credited to Caesar Cardini in Tijuana, Mexico, but McDonald’s Japan instead shifts its origins to Tori Spelling’s 90210 for the Beverly Hills Burger, the last of the Big America burgers. Yes, there’s Caesar Salad and a cooked egg atop that burger patty.
McDonald’s Japan hardly is alone in this muddled globalization, of course. The Miami Melt burger in McDonald’s “Great Tastes of America” UK promotion this year had no discernable connection with Miami. And Brits, in turn, howled that the English Pub Burger that McDonald’s tested here last summer had nothing English about it. Just so. It’s what helps make the burger business more fun than world diplomacy.