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McDonald’s Bashed Online Over Introduction of Roujiamo, the “Chinese Burger”

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After KFC’s introduction of snail noodles last year, the latest salvo in the localization race between American fast food brands in China is a McDonald’s version of classic Shaanxi snack the roujiamo.

Given it’s often referred to as a “Chinese burger” in English, this must’ve seemed like kind of a no-brainer at the McD’s marketing department — but reviews have been less than stellar.

Naturally, the idea of the people behind the Big Mac taking on a traditional street snack has triggered some Shaanxi food purists. But that isn’t even the main controversy. Instead, McDonald’s has been berated online for the less-than-generous amount of shredded pork that makes up their spin on the beloved buns.

Related:

Chinese Takeout: Roujiamo is So Much More than a “Chinese Burger”

Soon after the new menu item was announced, people began posting pictures online of the not-so-filling roujiamo filling and comparing it to the bountiful images displayed on the McDonald’s advertising. In delivering a disappointing item that looks nothing like the picture, some might argue that the brand is merely doing for “the Chinese burger” what it’s long done for the burger burger. But as negative hashtags trended on social media, the company was eventually moved to respond.

After some Chinese media outlets looked into the matter and provided video evidence, McDonald’s customer service reportedly stated that it was “investigating the issue raised by netizens.”

The Mc-roujiamo was part of a limited edition menu rolled out to mark the forthcoming Lunar New Year and arrives less than a month after McDonald’s introduced an Oreo Spam burger in China, fortunately only for a very limited time.

Related:

McDonald’s Launches “Oreo Spam Burger”

The move shows some of the pitfalls of US fast food giants’ localization push in China, but it seems unlikely to do any real harm to McDonald’s business in the country. It also leaves the brand still some way behind KFC in the unexpected menu item stakes, with the latter having introduced pizza with a fried chicken crust and durian nuggets in recent, all-too-vivid memory.

Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of RADII and Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for the Associated Press, The Wire, the Financial Times and more.