Sunday, July 14, 2019

McDonald's Worldwide Favorites Menu: A Retrospective

Taking a fond look back at the internationally-tinged, limited-time-only McProducts the warmed the cockles of all our hearts this summer...


By: Jimbo X

Unless you're some hipster-vegan-artisinal piece of shit, you've probably ambled into a McDonald's at some point over the last two or three months. And if you have, you've no doubt noticed the fast food monolith's summerlong "Worldwide Favorites" promotion, in which the powers that are in the McCorporation have sought to introduce American audiences to some more esoteric products.

While McDonald's in the past has rolled out quasi-kinda-sorta' similar promotions, this is the first time Mickie D's has gone all out with the fast food foreign exchange student concept, which is something long-time fans of weird-ass mass consumption have been secretly praying for for years. I mean, considering the remarkable cavalcade of weird McProducts being served in Japan alone, we've easily got a full decade of a bizarre LTOs to churn through, and I for one couldn't be happier to finally ge my mitts on shit like the American Funky BBQ Chicken Sandwich or the Mega Teriyaka Burger.

Of course, for their first go at-it, the suits at McDonald's played things fairly safe and eschewed the more out there stuff from Asia in favor of more Continental-inspired menu imports. And since I'm a sucker for ephemeral fast food nonsense, you KNOW I gave each of the limited-time-only, seasonal specialty items a test-taste. My thoughts on the first class of McDonald's Worldwide Favorites is herein, folks ...


The Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger (Spain)

The Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger from Spain, I suppose, is as good a place as any to get the proverbial ball rolling on our whirlwind tour of McDonald’s international delicacies. Right off the bat I can tell you this thing is WAY bigger and bulkier than the McDonald’s hamburgers I’m used to, and these sumbitches definitely did not skimp out on the bacon. Really, this thing more closely resembled something you’d get out of a slightly ritzier burger joint like Steak ‘n Shake or Freddy’s, so it’s obviously getting some points right out the gate based on sheer volume alone.


As for the burger itself, the two big variables here are the cheese (eschewing the usual American cheddar squares, over there in Espana they opt for gouda) and the proprietary sauce. While McDonald’s is perfectly fine calling it a nondescript “McBacon Sauce,” I’d describe the sauce is almost Creole in taste and texture, a somewhat smokey, spicier Big Mac Sauce that — to my tastebuds, at least — seemed to have a pronounced garlic and paprika mouthfeel.


Really, the only thing I didn’t like about the burger was the overload on onion slices. While the McBacon Sauce did an admirable job covering up the natural taste of the accoutrements, there were still way too many of them wedged underneath the top bun, and the taste and texture certainly clashed with the rest of the burger ingredients. From my vantage point, replacing the onions with fried onion straws would’ve been a much better fit, and if this shit had a quasi-mesquite BBQ sauce to accompany it, holy shit, you’d have an absolute must-eat on your hands. While it’s not that much different from the usual bacon burger fare out there in fast food land, it’s nonetheless distinct enough to warrant at least one taste-test. You know, unlesss you’re a vegeterian, at which point … fuck you.


The Stroopwafel McFlurry (The Netherlands)

There’s not a whole lot I can say about the Dutch delicacy, so I’ll spend a little bit of time upfront talking about how funny the name is. Stroopwafel. To me, it doesn’t sound like something yummy and ice creamy, it sounds like something out of World War II’s battlefields. As in, “Oh shit, Hitler’s Stroopwafel is coming, go tell the Friedenbergs to hide in the attic for awhile!”


So, according to McDonald’s website, this thing contains, and I quote, “Daelmans Stroopwafel crispy caramel cookie pieces and a rich caramel swirl.” Of course, in my order, it looks more like I got a regular McFlurry, only with a shit ton of caramel ooze and some hard-ass toffee bits thrown into the ice cream. Which, really, isn’t that bad of a setup, although I’d much prefer sticking to my usual M&M’s dust-encrusted milkshake from the chain.


It tastes slightly sweeter than most McTreats, and I suppose you could say it has a richer taste and texture than what we’re used to from the franchise. Unfortunately, I thought the rock hard caramel cookie bits didn’t gel with the soft serve ice cream at all, reminding me at once of that one Shark Week-flavored ice cream from Cold Stone that, rather fittingly, produced rock hard gummy hammerheads. That, and this shit is messy with a capital “M” and two wet naps … as soon as the edge of your palm grazes the spoon, your hand hairs will be encrusted in a thick blanket of congealed goop. I wasn’t a big fan, obviously, but hey, you might like it — you know, different strokes and all that jazz.


The Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich (Canada)

This has to be the strangest of the Worldwide Favorites menu. Not textually, but contextually. You think “Canada” and “limited-time-only fast food” and you think something really outlandish, like ketchup-flavored potato chips or poutine. Alas, Canada’s contribution to the seasonal summertime menu is shockingly subdued — at heart, it’s really just a huge-assed chicken sandwich, albeit a huge-assed chicken sandwich with a really yummy, proprietary sauce.


As with the behemoth bacon burger from Spain, I was mighty impressed by the girth of this one. The fried/breaded chicken patty on this sucker was downright enormous, and I’d consider its overall quality to at least be on par with the kinda’ stuff you’d get from Zaxby’s. The accoutrements, however, are what really gave this chicken sammich its figurative wings: you’ve got lettuce, you’ve got tomato, you’ve got a thin sheet of mozzarella and you’ve got this really good orange sauce that they just call “herb sauce,” which would kinda’ suggest it has the marijuana plant in it since it’s Canada and all, but it’s actually just a slightly churched up Thousand Island Dressing imitation. Which, as far as I’m concerned, is actually WAY better than marijuana sauce, because Thousand Island Dressing addicts aren’t a bunch of lazy, worthless shits that just sit around all day watching Rick and Morty and listening to Widespread Panic.


But again, my problem here is the surfeit of onions. Granted, a lot of people most like ‘em because they keep stuffing their products chock full of them, but Sweet Jesus on a saltine, did they go overboard on my sammich. If a small platoon of chopped up onions doesn’t vibe with a bacon burger, I assure you it gels even worse with an otherwise artisanal-ish chicken burger. So all that to say it’s good, but maybe not that great. Feel free to keep this one for yourself Canada — meanwhile, we’ll just keep holding onto that Stanley Cup for ‘ya.


Cheesy Bacon Fries (Australia)

The Cheesy Bacon Fries are easily the most disappointing product in the international quartet, and on multiple levels. For starters, these things are supposed to represent Australia, an untamed land full of exotic creatures and boomerangs and preposterously strict gun laws that still don’t prevent mass gun homicides from happening. And you mean to tell me the best these motherfuckers could drum up is “cheesy bacon fries?” My ass, Australia, my ass.


IF you can overlook the rather unremarkable concept, you might find the item somewhat endearing. Make no mistake, these cheesy bacon fries aren’t bad (or, at least, they’re not stomach-churning), and if you’re hungry enough, they’ll probably hit the spot. Furthermore, I’m just happy they used ACTUAL chopped up pieces of bacon for the product, as opposed to other fast food chains who just sprinkle Bacon Bits on their shit and call it good. Aye, it’s almost enough to get you to overlook the fact their proprietary cheese sauce is just liquified Velveeta spread … almost.


As a one and done side item, it ain’t too shabby, though. When it comes to fast food cheesy fries, you could certainly do worlds worse, and overall, I’d consider this variation to be moderately above average. Although, again, considering these things are supposed to represent Australian exceptionalism, you can’t help but be miffed by the general plainness of the item. Unless the bacon is actually made out of a pig-footed bandicoot, consider this one Aussie-inspired sampling that’s anything but awe-inspiring.

Unfortunately, my passport to Flavortown has been expired for several years ...

So there you have it, folks. On the whole, I can’t say I was terribly impressed by any of this year’s Worldwide Favorites selections — that’s not to say they weren’t tasty, because honestly, all of them were at least above average for their ilk. It’s just that I wanted something a little more bizarre, more out of the norm, more phenomnal, you know? I mean, McDonald’s is a brand with such huge global present that their international menu offers almost unlimited possibilities. This is a chain that literally serves spinach and parmesan nuggets in Italy and mashed potato burgers in China, so clearly, they have the wherewithal to REALLY hit us American consumers with some LTO offerings that are well worth Instagramming about. 

But I definitely like the idea of the Worldwide Favorites shtick becoming a summertime ritual — sort of like McDonald’s equivalent of the pumpkin spice latte, except not their ACTUAL pumpkin spice latte equivalent, which we can all agree is pretty shitty. Really, McDonald’s could be sitting on an ephemeral goldmine by launching four global-inspired menu items each summer, and the more goddamn outlandish, the better. 

I mean, can you imagine strolling into Mickie D’s in 2022 and actually being able to walk out with a McCurry Pan, a Bubblegum Squash McFlurry and Malaysian Prosperity McFizz drink anywhere in America? Come on, McDonald’s marketers … you know us wacky millennials are all about that shit, and if you make it happen, you’ll make beaucoup bucks.

Hell, I might even suck a dick to wrap my lips around the McNurnburger Bratwurst Sandwich or the Pineapple Oreo McFlurry — not that I’m trying to incentivize you with sexual promises. Although if that helps get the McArabia and Samurai Pork Burger exported quicker, I may strongly imply it.

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