The Real Reason McDonald's Is Banned In So Many Countries

As the home of the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and other world-renowned artworks, the Louvre Museum in Paris carries an air of unmatched importance. But even in the City of Love, there's a thin line between Louvre and hate, and in 2009, the Golden Arches crossed it. As CBS News explains, France's flagship museum welcomed aboard a McDonald's restaurant and McCafe, and a lot of people weren't lovin' it. Museum employees bristled at the decision. Someone identified as an anonymous art historian denounced the idea as "the pinnacle of exhausting consumerism, deficient gastronomy and very unpleasant odors in the context of a museum."

Obviously, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and taste is in the buds of the sandwich licker or whatever. To these outspoken tongues, a Big Mac in the vicinity of the Mona Lisa tasted like artistic sacrilege. But in various countries, a Big Mac is only tasteless because no one can taste one. The governments of those nations did what France's ardent detractors wished the Louvre had done: ban McDonald's.

Big Mac attacked

If you live in a place like the U.S., where McDonald's dots the nation like a freckled face, the thought of not having any is literally a foreign concept. However, in 2013, NPR reported that 105 countries didn't have a single Mickey D's. By 2019, that number had shrunk to about 90, per the World Atlas. Not all of these places view McDonald's as a Golden Archnemesis. Some lack the political or economic stability to accommodate one. But other countries refuse to make room for Ronald McDonald's oversize clown shoes.

Bermuda, for instance, has a law banning fast-food franchises in order to preserve its "Old World image," according to the LA Times. However, a U.S. military base enabled McDonald's to skirt that restriction until its closure in 1995, leaving some Bermudans with a craving for the forbidden fruit that is McDonald's apple pie. Some countries have imposed bans due to adversarial relationships with the United States. Reader's Digest highlights a couple of prominent examples, including Iran, which created its own McDonald's knockoff: Mashed Donald's. North Korea, meanwhile, knocks America and its capitalist system, while Macedonia is said to have had a falling out with the McDonald's European CEO.