For better or for worse, there’s no denying that American fast food has become arguably as popular in France as it is back home. If you live in a city, there’s always a KFC, a Pizza Hut, or a McDonald’s in the neighborhood. What’s interesting from an American perspective is how these places can feel simultaneously so familiar and so foreign. The idea, of course, is to take an American brand and make it appeal to a French consumer, so sometimes you end up with some interesting cross-cultural creations. Some are very clear efforts to transform traditional favorites. Take, for example, the one that even made the news back in the States:
Ground beef with black pepper + “stone-baked” bread +
mustard sauce + French Emmental = très français
(There’s also a ham version. Encore même plus français!)
Then there are the “fusion cuisine” items, where the finished product really does look like the marriage of America and France … the name included:
Le Boxmaster Mountain
Fried chicken + reblochon + a hashbrown + onions + a tortilla =
Franco-American if I’ve ever seen it
Sometimes, though, appealing to the French consumer is much less about preserving traditional French flavors and more about evoking America in all its (stereotypical) Americanness:
McFarmer versus McRancher
Always good for a chuckle.
This week, though, I came across an advertisement that made me scrunch my forehead:
Now don’t get me wrong. My vegetarianism aside, I see absolutely nothing wrong with a bagel burger, but …
What? Is it wet? Oily? It’s like the “English is cool” Translata-matron® over at McDonald’s malfunctioned or something. So I took a look at the mandated fine print, and I found the hiccup:
“Shiny = Doré”
Um … no. “Doré” means “golden” or “golden brown.” THAT makes sense: golden brown bacon. So, why did McDonald’s name it “Double Shiny Bacon” and lie to the unsuspecting French folks about what it means? Well, like all of this advertising, it’s directed to those French folks and not to forehead-scrunching Americans like me. McDonald’s spends a lot of money on market research, after all, so “Double Shiny Bacon” obviously sounds good to the French — the perfect nexus of sonority and American cachet — even if it sounds unappetizing to those of us who know what it really means.
Whatever the reason, McDonald’s France is confident that even you, fellow Americans, will want to try that shiny bacon … despite the weird name:
“So good even the Americans want to taste them!
This week, find the all new Double Shiny Bacon and the Grand Bagel Cheese
at your McDonald’s restaurant!”
Just for the record: I’m not picking on the French here. We do this all the time with French words back in America. Give something a French name and it’s suddenly very chic and costs twice as much, even if the name makes no sense whatsoever to a French person. Some of you out there can probably give me scores of examples you’ve come across. Feel free to do that in the comments, and stay tuned for a post on that very subject when I’m back in the States next month! In the meantime …
© 2013 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved