Apparently, the French love American buns. Or at least McDonald’s France thinks they do.
Why the country that gave the world the baguette and brioche would go gaga for bagels and corn bread is anyone’s guess, but a new Mickey D’s promo in France seeks to capitalize on something that many Americans may have never thought of as particularly distinctive: our breads.
McDonald’s France's limited-time menu offer, “Breads & America,” features the Grand Bagel Cheese (“basically a cheeseburger on a bagel,” reports Eater), the Double Cornbread BBQ (“served on cornbread…topped with corn chips”), and a strange something called the Shiny Double Bacon. It's served on a bun made from that famous American “shiny” bread—you know the kind, right?
It may not seem surprising for an American-based fast-food chain to feature American-centric promotions, but at McDonald’s France it kind of is. Because McDonald’s didn’t win over the French by simply plying them with Big Macs. (And yes, Vincent Vega, it was more than just changing the name of the Quarter Pounder.)
As has been long noted (with varying degrees of delight, bafflement, and downright horror), France is the second-highest-grossing market for the Golden Arches after the United States—and it became so by being rather French. Like a benevolent imperialist, McDonald’s opted to cater to local tastes with decidedly Frenchified offerings such as the McCamembert, the McRaclette, and yes, the McBaguette. The restaurants are designed for lingering in, and macarons are even available in the McCafés.
Still, culinary purists were up in arms earlier this year after a national consumer survey in France found that more people were eating at fast-food chains like McD's than in sit-down restaurants. To add insult to injury, a separate report found that more than a third of those sit-down restaurants confessed to serving unsuspecting customers “industrially processed, often frozen food,” eroding the idea of chefs' painstaking attention to technique that has been a hallmark of classic French cooking.
So aside from cozying up to the French by currying favor via their palates, how else might a chain restaurant convince a nation to chuck centuries’ worth of culinary pride and bite into a Double Cornbread BBQ burger smothered in corn chips? Convince them it’s ironic.
That’s where the ads come in. Take a look at these buffoonish caricatures of Americans trying to get their hands on one of the "Breads & America" burgers—but before we get all indignant, let’s remember Pepé Le Pew or that whole “freedom fries” thing.