McDonald’s golden arches tower over the biggest fast food footprint of any company in the world with over 36,000 locations in over 100 countries globally. One key to the brand’s success in such a diverse array of markets is its ability to tailor the menu to cater to local taste buds by reimagining or even creating all-new products that fit into a city or region’s dining scene. It’s enough to give American McDonald’s fans a serious case of FOMO when stories about items like waffles and taro ice cream or the samosa-like McAloo Tikki sandwich hit our screens. And while the brand is already serving up international items at its Chicago headquarters, this summer, U.S. residents nationwide will get an opportunity to taste some of the McDonald’s offerings the rest of the world has been enjoying when the chain rolls out four Worldwide Favorites menu options on Wednesday, June 5, 2019.
But first, a little hometown new for New Yorkers: McDonald’s just opened a three-story state-of-the-art restaurant in Times Square at the corner of Broadway and 45th Street today, featuring ordering kiosks, table service, and even an elevator just to bring the food from the kitchen to the seating areas above. The flagship location, expected to be one of the business in the world, hosted the media for a preview event last night at which I was invited to taste the Worldwide Favorites items before they hit restaurants next week. Here’s what I thought of each, accompanied by official product descriptions from McDonald’s:
Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich (Canada)
“Made with a grilled or crispy all white meat, juicy and tender chicken, the Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich is topped with tomato & herb sauce, creamy mozzarella cheese, slivered onions, fresh lettuce and sliced Roma tomatoes served on a freshly toasted artisan roll.”
I had the crispy version of this sandwich which, perhaps given that it’s just from over the border in Canada, felt the least like anything out of the ordinary. It's mostly chicken, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese, and pretty much the sum of its parts. If anything — and I say this trepidatiously as someone who usually avoids messy, slippery sandwiches — it could have used more sauce. Maybe ask for extra.
Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger (Spain)
“A quarter pound of 100 percent fresh beef topped with thick cut Applewood smoked bacon, smoky McBacon Sauce, real Gouda cheese and slivered onions served on a freshly toasted sesame seed bun.”
Salty and a bit smoky, like you’d expect from something with so much bacon on it. The bacon was pretty crispy (a tricky feat to master in the quick-service industry) and the gouda, while mild, was a nice break from the standard American cheese. I’d never thought about it before, but most McDonald’s burgers are pretty tidy as you eat them. This one erred on the messier side due to the sauce, but, despite what I said above, it wasn’t a turn-off (I’m just glad I was at a table and not driving or something). This item was probably the biggest departure from anything I’d normally expect from McDonald’s while remaining super accessible to most American palates, flavor-wise.
Cheesy Bacon Fries (Australia)
“Our World Famous Fries topped with real cheddar cheese sauce and chopped Applewood Smoked bacon.”
They’re McDonald’s fries covered in a cheese sauce and bacon bits. No complaints on the fries (lest I start a war on social media). The bacon chunks aren't crispy but are satisfyingly salty, smoky and flavorful. The cheese sauce isn’t the nacho cheese you might initially expect, so to my taste, it hit me as a little blander than I anticipated. Knowing that, perhaps I need to try it again with curbed expectations. I mean, it’s fries, cheese, and bacon! How can it be all bad?
Stroopwafel McFlurry (Amsterdam)
“Our creamy vanilla soft serve, mixed with a rich caramel swirl, featuring authentic chopped Dutch Daelmans Stroopwafel caramel waffle cookie pieces.”
By far the item I was most excited to try, this McFlurry delivered. Unlike the photo, mine was served in the standard paper cup with a plastic spoon, but that’s to be expected. There was a substantial caramel ribbon throughout the soft serve, and the chewy, slightly toothsome wafers were a satisfying texture to savor bite after bite, sort of like when you get a nice chunk of Oreo in your shake. If any of these items can outlive this promotional stunt, it should be this one.
The Worldwide Favorites menu items will be available for a limited time at participating restaurants (sorry, not in AK or HI) while supplies last. If you're curious whether you'll get the chance to try more international treats, a representative tells me that the success of this rollout will determine whether McDonald’s will consider introducing more globally-sourced menu items to the U.S. in the future.
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