Sacre Bleu! McDonald's (MCD) Maims French Staple... and They Love It!

January 16, 2013 12:31 PM EST
When it comes to McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) the first thing in most folks' mind is "cheap food," not "international delicacy." That's okay, that's what McDonald's is aiming for, more or less.

Recently, Michelin-star holding chef Pierre Koffmann stopped by a local Mickey D's in France to sample a McBaguette. That's a sandwich consisting of ham, lettuce, local Swiss cheese, potato, and mustard sauce, all served on a sesame seed roll. No, kidding, its served on a baguette roll.

After sampling the fare, Koffmann commented that he liked it and "There's plenty of salad and plenty of everything. The bread isn't a pure baguette because this one is shorter, but it’s good bread. Not the top bread in Paris but it’s good. I’m not disappointed by it." He also preferred it to a local backer's offering and said McDonald's was doing the "trick": serving the bread warm.

So what gives? Why is the McBaguette taking France by storm? As Bloomberg so eloquently put it today, "with a French economic slump and a 13-year-high unemployment rate that’s driving more of the country's citizens to throw their culinary pride to the wind and embrace fastfood offerings."

The McBaguette is part of McDonald's "Casse-Croute" menu in France, which refers to grabbing a quick sandwich. Pundits of McDonald's say the company shouldn't use the word when a baguette is a long, thin loaf of French bread. To the casual observer, it looks like McDonald's isn't using 'baguette"; it's using "McBaguette," possibly a one-off of the traditional loaf.

France has been one of McDonald's most-profitable markets outside of the U.S. with sales of €4.2 billion and 1,228 locations in 2011.

The point is that McDonald's is constantly aiming to adhere to local tastes while still keeping close to its roots. In India, McDonald's has the McSpicy Paneer and in China there are taro dessert pies and pasta soups.

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