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Aug 17, 2010 03:44 AM

American fast-food chains in the UK

I really miss Arby's roast beef sandwiches in the U.S. Also, the much larger Pizza Hut lunch buffets in the U.S. Seems a bit puzzling why the McDonald 's in the UK don't offer Angus burgers or grilled chicken sandwiches like those in the U.S. KFC's in the UK don't have mashed potatoes or biscuits. A real shame the Wendy's in the UK all closed. I did get to eat at one in Croydon once.

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  1. Could it be that the American chains understand that the British don't perhaps want to eat exactly what people eat in the U.S.? I don't understand why Americans, of which I am one, seem to think we should export our world elsewhere. Why does every country in the world have to eat what Americans eat when their own take on food is quite good enough in most cases?

    I miss a lot of things I ate most of my life, so I get on a plane.

    6 Replies
      1. re: zuriga1

        Ummmm..... British people love American fast-food... how many Wimpy's do you see anymore?

        The area near my local tube has a Starbucks, KFC, Burger King, a Byron Burger (British take on American), and a Blue and Black steakhouse....even the chip shop has turned into a Lebanese place, and there is a Nando's on the corner.

        1. re: brokentelephone

          Wimpy? Looking at their website, I reckon there's about 130 branches. I'm not sure if that includes the motorway services outlets that they operate with RoadChef. Not insignificant but nothing in comparision with the company's presence in South Africa.

          1. re: Harters

            There is still a Wimpy's in Dorking, hardly a culinary capitol of the world. I have no idea what the food is like having never craved a Wimpy anything.

            I just wish things here wouldn't be called 'American-style.' What a misnomer!

            1. re: zuriga1

              Why is American-style a misnomer when referring to what is largely American cuisine? (not trying to be rude -- genuinely interested).

              1. re: brokentelephone

                The products I've seen advertised as 'American-style' (and that doesn't just include food products) here in the UK rarely resemble anything I recognize from my homeland. I think it's just a marketing ploy to interest consumers. Offhand, I can't remember most of the things I've seen advertised except for frozen burgers in the supermarket.

                I know you're not trying to be rude. It's just my opinion after living here 6 years and I find this wording sort of funny, more than anything else. It's the same as having American voiceovers in adverts. And Americans use British voices these days.

      2. Doesn't McDonald's adapt its standard offerings to whatever country it's operating in?

        And another question. Why does KFC in America offer mashed potato with its takeaway "bucket" meals? Bearing in mind this is fast food intended to be eaten with your hands (often in the car), it is one of the most effing stupid ideas I can think of.

        Then again, as for biscuits. I quite like a Jammy Dodger with a cuppa. Let's lobby KFC to start selling them.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Harters

          John, I think mike above means biscuits as in Southern muffin-like biscuits that go with fried chicken. You're thinking, I think, of British biscuits or our 'cookies.' I remember the days when our family would get a KFC carry-out meal when my sons were teenagers. We ignored the fact it's one of the most unhealthy meals on the planet! The KFC biscuits really are tasty as is their cole slaw.

          1. re: zuriga1

            I love the biscuits with the gravy!! :)

          2. re: Harters

            Yes McDonalds do adapt - in New Zealand you can get a 'Kiwi burger' complete with egg and beetroot.

            1. re: Harters

              I think maybe we have a different idea of what KFC food is. Most people in the US don't see it as standard, eat with your hands, fast food. In fact, almost none of the sides here can be eaten that way. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, green beans, etc are all elements of what we call southern food. KFC was started as a single restaurant in Kentucky, and grew from there. As such, it has maintaned a lot of the traditional side items. While it was food served fast, it was never intended to be fast food as we know it.

              While they do have snack packs and lunch portions, the buckets and family meals are meant to be eaten on a plate.

              1. re: Harters

                KFC also adapts to the countries it operates in. When we were in Shanghai we saw a KFC that was a sit-down restaurant with white tablecloths and real china/silverware. There was a host who seated people, and you ordered off a menu. It was a huge hit with the Chinese. We didn't go in, so not sure how different the menu was. There were also regular take-away KFC shops, and a friend noted that the fried chicken there was all dark meat, because that's what the Chinese prefer.

              2. I saw this linked at the bottom of another thread, and came over to read it. I guess my question is, if you're in another country, *why* would you want American food? The idea of eating American fast food while in England, when curries, fish and chips, and inexpensive Scottish or Irish salmon and lamb abound just doesn't make sense to me. I'd be in heaven. Go into Harrod's, Fortnum & Mason, Marks & Spencer...heck, even a Sainsbury's or Waitrose or Morrison's. I love to check out new supermarkets when I travel and would be willing to pay the extra money for another bag to bring back the goodies I've found. :-)

                Unless you're someone who only eats fast food wherever in the world you go, being able to enjoy the local food is one of life's great pleasures. :-)

                10 Replies
                1. re: LindaWhit

                  After spending a couple of months in Sydney in their early teens, my kids fondly remember the 'treat' of eating a Big Mac every now and then. But in their case, it reminded them of home.

                  1. re: jeanmarieok

                    I guess not being a fan of most of the American fast food places, I'm at a loss as to why someone would want it. I ate in a TGIFriday's in London when visiting my stepbrother and his family (stepbrother is an American ex-pat actor in London) and when I had mentioned seeing TGIF's in Covent Garden, he begged to go there. Mostly for the burgers, which he missed terribly, as pubs didn't sell burgers near his home. It was pretty good. But then again, chain restaurants aren't my thing either.

                    But I do understand the "reminder of home."

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      We have a TGIF near home - the teenage nephew had his family birthday gathering there earlier in the year. He enjoyed it - but then, as with many of our young people, he's more enamoured with "things American" than the older generations.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        I don't think the TFIG Friday's in the UK are anything much like the American versions when it comes to the taste of the food. The decor and menus may match, but that's about it. Anyone expecting what they're used to in the States will be disappointed, I think.....

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          I am too good to eat at American fast food places ;-) ...however, after several years as an American ex-pat in London, I do crave a good diner burger... As Zuriga notes, this mostly affects where I go when I step off that plane.

                          It does boggle the mind when one sees American tourists eating at McDonald's. I also have (chinese) relatives who are only willing to eat at chinese restaurants - no matter where they are. Pretty weird.

                          1. re: MonkeyC

                            My husband lived in Japan for many years. He's astounded when he sees Japanese tourists always seeing out Japanese restaurants wherever they travel. I guess he's not all that surprised but like you just can't figure out why people do that when tourists.. just afraid of the unknown methinks.

                            1. re: zuriga1

                              Its well trodden ground, but yes the mind does boggle at the mentality of a lot of people. Eating new and wonderful foods is the single best thing about visiting a place.

                              1. re: chief1284

                                We'll be in Copehagen in October, and I can't wait to try new things there. I totally agree with you about being adventurous - when it comes to food.

                                1. re: chief1284

                                  I must admit...I'm curious to see how American Fast Food companies differ from country to country. I won't go to one if I am only in town a few days, but if I'm on a three week trip, I might stop into an American chain for lunch one day. I, by no means, only eat at them and am not afraid of the unknown. I'm just curious about all food. There. I feel better getting that off my chest. :.I will now say two Our Father's and 5 Hail Marys. ;)

                              2. re: MonkeyC

                                I am an american living in the UK, and I have tried lots of local foods. I live in Cornwall, so there is plenty to experience! But this question of Americans eating whats familar to them in different places is odd. I have eaten at the Mcdonalds in the town. But mainly, my first experience was to go through the drive through, I was completely fascinated by how different it was! And then of course there is the fact that everyone mentions, the fact that although it looks familar and reminds you of home, it is usually very different. I like seeing how American things are interpretted in other places, just as I am sure, British might be interested in seeing how we do fish and chips. Kinda a comparision, an experiment. Doesnt mean one way is better, just a new interpretation that you have fond memories of. if anyone has ever been the the Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta, GA, USA, this could be quite proven. It has a room inside this museuem where you can taste coke from all over the world, over 150 different types of coke....and they all taste different.

                                Now that I am living in the UK, there will be times when I miss the foods of my homeland. And will eat a cheeseburger from Mcdonalds, or pizza from Pizza Hut, but that doesnt mean that will be the first place I go to. I love the small town pizza shop just as well.

                                Just thoughts of an American in UK

                        2. The McDonalds in the Canadian Maritimes (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, etc.) serve McLobster sandwiches!

                          1. In India McDonalds don't even serve beef! So yes, they do cater for different audiences.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: chief1284

                              I once knew an American who slammed food in London, but then rated Garfunkels as great?? I just didn't understand this.