What Do They Call a Quarter Pounder With Cheese in Casablanca?

McDonalds has been international for 50 years now… and its restaurants have learned how to blend in to the local scene

A McDonald’s in Tangiers, Morocco. The sign is in Arabic.
A McDonald’s in Tangiers, Morocco. The sign is in Arabic. McDonald’s Corporation

The first international McDonald's opened in June 1967 in British Columbia, Canada.

Later that year, writes Randy James for Time, the fast-food franchise opened another in Costa Rica. Since then, the restaurant has expanded to claim more than 36,000 restaurants in 120 countries worldwide as of the end of 2016. These restaurants don't all serve the same burger and fries that made the original McDonald's, opened in 1948 by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald, famous for its innovative model of service.

But in keeping with that innovation, which continued when McDonald’s was franchised and grew into a fast food empire, the restaurant has maintained market share by offering foods adapted to local preferences across the countries it serves. They've also adapted their restaurants to suit local aesthetics. In Egypt, for example, you can get a McFalafel. In Morocco, as in France, you can get a quarter pounder with cheese—known as the “Royal Cheese”—but you can also get cheese croquettes.

In India you can get a McSpicy Paneer. A local specialty Down Under is the Aussie Brekkie Roll. In Malaysia, try the Bubur Ayam McD, a local porridge with chicken strips.

Financial analysts say that studying a country’s McDonald’s presence shows things about local wage rates and the local economy. “So, the Big Mac isn't just some dumb lump of something resembling meat,” writes Derek Thompson for The Atlantic.  “It's an international barometer of economic activity.”

But for the curious, and for American tourists, the local differences in McDonald’s offer a way to look at something that started close to home. Take a look at the physical differences of McDonald’s locations abroad:

A kosher McDonald’s in Jerusalem. The sign is in Hebrew, although McDonald’s signs throughout the world are more frequently in English and contain the same logo as American signs. Wikimedia Commons
The McDonald’s Ebi Burger served in Singapore. The Japanese menu includes a similar shrimp burger known as the Ebi Filet-O. Wikimedia Commons
The third McDonald’s ever built, in Downey, California, is the oldest still in operation. Wikimedia Commons
A McDonald’s in Admiralty, Hong Kong Wikimedia Commons
The interior of a McDonald’s in Marrakesh, Morroco McDonald’s Corporation

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