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Photo of the day: McDonald’s Burgers in Neutral Tones

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Ditch the dollar menu and grab your renminbi. Our photo theme this week is China Menu: outside-the-box fast food options you won’t get at your local spot.

It’s only fitting we kick this theme off with one of the most notorious, controversial, and unexplained items in the Chinese fast food canon. Of course we’re talking about those black and white burgers.

The name of the promotion — the heibai liangdao tongchi burgers — comes from a phrase for people who do business with both the government (white business) and organized crime (black business). The black burger is allegedly colored with squid ink and contains black truffle sauce. The white one is colored with…who knows? Since it’s McDonald’s, we expect they’re all probably just colored with dye, but that’s exactly the kind of full-on artificiality we’ve all come to know and love.

Actually, McDonald’s in China has basically been hopscotching across the color wheel for some time now. We had red, green, pink — but still, the neutral monochrome severity of black and white is uniquely jarring to foreign eyes.

On that note, we’d be remiss if we didn’t address the natural evolution, the inevitable lovechild of this famous inter-taste-al relationship, the gray-bunned Modern China burger:

And before you say anything, these burgers perform well in China, and by all accounts seem to taste pretty palatable if you like McDonald’s. But we still think they should have reserved the name Modern China for something more eye-catching. Still waiting on that red burger with gold stars.

Photo: Lifehacker Australia

Adan Kohnhorst
Adan Kohnhorst is a Shanghai-based writer, producer, and multimedia artist, and the Associate Editor at RADII. His work has been featured in publications such as Maxim and the Chinese-language StreetVoice, and he’s an active member of the hip-hop and DIY music scenes in Shanghai, NYC, and Dallas. He learned Mandarin in high school so he could train at the Shaolin Temple, but now just uses it to interview rappers.