Nowadays, large chains such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, Pizza Hut and Subway can be found pretty much in all parts of the world. While most of them offer affordable, quick meals, they also have a tendency to sell unhealthy food. Another side effect of the chains growing so big is how they have come to control the food market and diets of millions of people. Since they are cheap, it’s easier for people to buy their meals there – at the same time, when people end up eating there all the time, it’s not good for their health.

One of the main driving points behind the McDonald’s chain is how everything is supposed to be the same – yet you can find different things in different parts of the word. For example, in the McDonald’s in Japan you can buy Teriyaki burgers, and the McFlurries tend to have different flavors depending on where you go. So even though the stores essentially sell the same products all over the world, they also offer products aimed at the population of the country it is located in. Another example of this can be found in the Japanese Starbucks, where they sell matcha lattes, and so on. This might have contributed to the chains gaining popularity in the countries they’ve settled in.

Back in my home country, we don’t have a lot of the big chains yet. Places like Starbucks, Subway, KFC and Pizza Hut have yet to set root in my home country. What surprised me at first is how people would react when they found this out. Some would react with disbelief and ask me what we actually do have back there, while others would express how they believed it was a good thing that it hadn’t been overtaken by big chains yet. Back home I didn’t really think about it much, but after traveling a bit and coming to Japan I realized how much of an impact certain chains have made on the world. Take McDonald’s for instance, you can pretty much find them in any part of the world. And while it might be nice to have somewhere to go where you know what the food will be like, regardless of which part of the world you’re in, it’s still kind of overwhelming to think about how large the franchise has become to achieve this.

How is it that chains like these manage to spread out and become this big? And how will they continue to shape the food market from now on?

by Sindre M. Berg

2 thoughts on “McDonaldization

  1. I also found it interesting when I came to Japan that they had a different McDonald`s menu than in the states. I actually worked for McDonald`s when I was in high school, and ever since I have had fast food maybe 4 times a year. Have you ever seen the movie “Super Size Me”? This movie will change you as well fast food eaters~ A man eats McDonald`s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a month and almost dies. If they asked him to supersize the meal, he had to say YES. It was a crazy movie to say the least, but it truly shows how bad McDonald`s is for you. They way they market is also interesting. They have commercials in all countries, but they all involve the culture in some way. I`m not sure if you have ever seen the Japanese McDonald`s commercial where Ronald is pretty much dancing like AKB48 J-pop, but it really made me realize how hard they work to relate to the culture to get them to buy their product. In conclusion, the first Ronald McDonald mascot was fired due to obesity. *cough*

  2. One interesting fact about McDonald’s in Kyoto: the signboards of McDonald’s in Kyoto are brown instead of red in order to preserve the “traditional-ness” of the city. Some Seven Eleven and Lawson combini stores near famous temples and shrines mute out their signboard colors to a simple black and white, probably for the same reason as McDonald’s choosing a more reserved color. You can bet that city ordinances are conscious of maintaining the traditional atmosphere of the ancient capital of Japan, just like how it restricts buildings taller than ten stories (was it ten? I’m not too sure) to be constructed.

    I also noticed that there really aren’t that many fast food restaurants, both Japanese and Western, near major shrines and temples, and anywhere designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This isn’t surprising, for tourists would rather see the trail leading up to Kiyomizu lined with traditional Japanese restaurants with history rather than McDonalds or Yoshinoya. Although the fastfood industry is rapidly taking over the world, I believe Kyoto is a city that greatly reflects how influences caused by globalization can peacefully coexist with local businesses.

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