Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fast food

We all know that fast food culture is steadily spreading throughout the world, often to the detriment of native food cultures. While I’m definitely not on the side of replacing or eliminating native food cultures, I’m not wholly against international fast food expansion per se. In much the same way that processed and ready-made foods can offer an accessible introduction into a new food culture, fast food originating in a foreign culture provides a way of expanding people’s food horizons and palates. It’s also interesting to see how different companies have adapted (or not) to the local cultural context and, on a nerdier level, consider the authenticity and terroir implications of such decisions. For instance, does glocalization on the fast food level constitute a type of fusion cuisine?

Here’s a quick look at some recent strategies to overcome cultural barriers in the fast food expansion industry:

Taco Bell recently opened its first store in India with an adapted menu that is beefless and incorporates more vegetarian options.

Novelty Proves a Hit for Taco Bell in India

Though McDonalds is also known for incorporating local flavors and food patterns into its menus, they found success in Australia by integrating the popular cafe culture into its physical location designs.

McDonald’s Down Under

By contrast, Subway has been expanding WITHOUT glocalizing its menu. After a period of letting individual stores have more control over its offerings, they decided it was more fruitful to maintain central control over the global brand of Subway.

How Subway Went Global


  1. non sequitur to your post but interesting culinary diplomacy, a story yesterday on Marketplace on a kosher-halal meat duo:

  2. Great links, Jackie! For some reason this reminded me of a National Geographic article from the early 1990s on the first McDonald's to open in Russia. From the photograph it looked as if every adult in Moscow had poured through the doors. Fast food may be ubiquitous, but attitudes toward it vary considerably... Maybe that's what I should be writing about for Professor C.