The Reason McDonald's Menus Are Different In Other Countries

No matter where you go within the United States, chances are one thing will look pretty similar – the menu at McDonald's. The comforting familiarity and regularity can be one of the strong points of fast food for weary travelers or busy folks looking for a quick bite. But once you cross the international border and head abroad, you may be surprised by what you'll find on some McDonald's menus.

The reason for these differences makes a lot of sense from both a business and culinary perspective. McDonald's says it "adapts [its] menu to reflect different tastes and local traditions" of the countries where it operates in order to ensure cultural differences are always respected. McDonald's divisions in each country are given relatively wide latitude to develop menu items with this goal in mind. For example, it would make little sense to serve lots of beef items in India or pork in Israel (which many locals in each spot won't eat for religious reasons.) Plus, mixing in familiar local dishes or flavors is an easy way to introduce otherwise foreign cuisine to international diets.

Tasty international surprises at the Golden Arches

The selection of McDonald's menu items you can't buy in the U.S. includes breakfast broth with pasta in Hong Kong, a pasta-fried chicken combo known as the chicken McDo with spaghetti (from the Philippines), and a mouth-watering Pineapple Oreo McFlurry in Colombia. There's even Canadian poutine and a Greek Mac sandwich served on pita with yogurt sauce in Greece! These are just a small fraction of the many sandwiches, sides, desserts, drinks, and even alcohol available at overseas Mickey D's. Some may end up on American menus, but most never make it across our border. 

However, if you're traveling abroad and craving a regular old Big Mac, never fear. McDonald's says its most famous and fundamental items are typically available no matter where you're chowing down. Still, more adventurous eaters shouldn't miss out on local spins on their favorites, like the Chicken Maharaja Mac in India. There's a reason McDonald's refers to its "billions and billions served," and that's because they can master the quick, delicious meal — including with local flair.