I have read more about McDonalds in the last week than the entire rest of my life, and the interesting thing is that none of it has been about North America. Instead I have been learning of the localization of McDonalds in Moscow and the cleanliness of McDonalds in Beijing. It seems that the rest of the world perceives McDonalds entirely differently than we do here in North America. I have always considered McDonalds a fast convenience food. I may not eat there anymore (is there any fast food without gluten in it?), but I have, on time-crunched or long road trip occassions, eaten there in the past. Probably more times than I can count on two hands.
This is the McDonalds that I have grown to see.
In China, a country not known for its quiet lineups or ample space, the McDonalds is seen as a public living room where one is encouraged to loiter over a drink or ice cream cone. In Russia, families congregate in the McDonalds for family gatherings as an extension of their home. Advertisements carefully promote the use of local products in the meals. In both countries, they are loved for the clean facilities, free toilets and birthday parties. Rural citizens visit them on trips into the city, often driving many hours and spending large percentages of their paycheques on these prized fast food meals.
This is what they are growing up to see.