The Spicy McDonald's Sundae Topping You Could Only Get In China

If you happen to be traveling outside the United States and are craving a slice of home, you can count on McDonald's to provide just that, with a staple collection of items you can find just about anywhere from McFlurries to McNuggets and McChicken. But the key to McDonald's success isn't just because it offers a slice of America, but that it is also able to adapt and localize (via Day Translations), which means you'll find things that you will definitely have never heard of before, served alongside things you know. (Cue John Travolta as Vincent Vega in "Pulp Fiction" explaining the "Royale with Cheese" which replaces the Quarter Pounder with Cheese.)

Localization also explains why McDonald's can come up with menu items like Spicy Apple chicken sandwiches in Malaysia, Ham and Cheese Pockets in Australia, Poutine in Canada, Chili Cheese Tops in Norway, Cadbury Creme Egg McFlurries in the UK, and the Chicken Maharaja Burger in India — which takes the place of a Big Mac (via Klook).

McDonald's China decided to localize the sundae by adding chili oil

It appears McDonald's China also takes localization to heart because of its offering of monthly specials on local favorites. There was the roujiamo or "Chinese burger," which the country's social media food critics appeared to be less than impressed with (via Sina). Then there was the spicy chili oil sundae, featuring a vanilla soft serve smothered in chili oil — aka "Youpo Lazi Sundae," named after a popular, sought after noodle dish from northwest China's Shaanxi province (via Hypebeast).

Sina says the dish kicked off as a freebie that came with a coupon, and it was meant to be rolled out in certain McDonalds's stores. But the flavor was here one day and gone the next, as it says McDonald's took to social media to say it would suspend the offer "due to the COVID-19 pandemic."

It might have literally been "here today, gone tomorrow," but the idea caught on long enough to inspire Dennis Lee at The Takeout to give the idea a go. His verdict? "I tried the combination at home once, and can confirm it was great." He compares the rich texture of chili oil on vanilla as being similar to that of olive oil on ice cream. Neither combination might have occurred to many of us in the past, but there's always a first time to give the unexpected a go.