The ’80s called; they want their McDonald’s American Vintage Campaign back….


“Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.” ~Peter De Vries

“Too much has been forgotten in the name of memory.” ~Don DeLillo, Americana

 

Mullets are seldom out of style.  The hair coloring, however....

Mullets are seldom out of style. The hair coloring, however….

Okinawa Eats Feb 2014, McDonalds American Vintage, coke classicMcDonald’s in the Far East continued flirting with all-things Americana with their “final” phase of their “American Vintage Campaign.” In a phrase, McDonald’s Japan is attempting to take the nostalgia that many in the East have for most things West, and cram it into sandwiches which neither resonate with our prototypical ideal of American vintage, nor with the food of American’s tasteful past.

Clowns, except for the fish, are ALWAYS creepy

Clowns, except for the fish, are ALWAYS creepy

Try finding Micky-D's on Beta

Try finding Micky-D’s on Beta

Okinawa Eats Feb 2014, McDonalds American Vintage, the fashion isn't good!Now McDonald’s this time around has gotten the print ads just about right – the fashion, icons of the era, and the look and feel of 1980’s Americana. However, here in Japan, they continue to do the food…wrong. Again, the signature items remain centered on two sandwiches, both BBQ-based. I have searched back in my mind for a connection between the 1980s and barbeque, and can find…none. And I can rightly claim the 80s as my generation’s decade! At least this time around they haven’t molested the BBQ chicken and beef, adding only those things we would 1) recognize and 2) expect, such as lettuce, BBQ sauce, cheese, mustard and pickles.

Okinawa Eats Feb 2014, McDonalds American Vintage, final 80s

Pacman wouldn't even eat this....

Pacman wouldn’t even eat this….

This deal probably lasted about 60 seconds....

This deal probably lasted about 60 seconds….

While the menu choices offered may be interesting to see and try, it’s highly doubtful that such items ever existed on the Mickey D’s menu, let alone in the 1980s. However, Micky D’s is not alone in such experiments; other Japanese branches of notable fast food chains are known for their own culinary foray flirtations in the Far East, especially during targeted promotional campaigns. McDonald’s here has tried a “60-second service” service, where the customer gets a free burger if their order isn’t fulfilled in 60 seconds or less, as well as a home-delivery service. This past winter season, they unveiled a “Gracoro Burger,” complete with a fried patty of macaroni, shrimp, and a white “fish” sauce. Yummy.

The infamous "Graco Burger"

The infamous “Gracoro Burger”

Burger King Japan in the fall offers the “BK Pumpkin,” a hamburger topped with pumpkin slices. It even has a “Kuro Burger,” made with black buns and a black-ink squid sauce. Also, for its 5th birthday (in Japan), BK unveiled a special “B’i King” buffet deal promotion where for specified sandwich meals the food was all-you-can-eat for thirty minutes!

Nothing says appetizing like BLACK

Nothing says appetizing like BLACK bread

Kentucky Fried Chicken is pretty popular in Japan as well. It has a partnership with Japan Airlines during winter season on certain flights to the US or Europe, and during Christmas, KFC Japan is the staple main course in Japanese homes (see my blog about that here). The KFC restaurant at Shimokitazawa Station (Tokyo) has a special third floor called “ROUTE 25,” KFC’s first ever whiskey bar. Now we’re talkin’!!

An upscale KFC eatery?  A sure sign of End of Days.

An upscale KFC eatery? A sure sign of End of Days.

You know you can't trust ginger kids!

You know you can’t trust ginger kids!

Boom Boxes and BBQ

Boom Boxes and BBQ

McDonald’s in Japan this time around has been cleverer than ever in their vintage-themed décor. They have reproduced some classically delightful Americana posters and prints. And while I stopped in to snap a few photos here and there and grab a fountain soda (which are nearly impossible to find in Japan), I can’t say that I’ve tried these menu items. And my heart and arteries thank me for, daily.

Okinawa Eats Feb 2014, McDonalds American Vintage, Mcdonald's!

This is the finale phase of the American vintage campaign. Although I’m disappointed that I missed the middle phase,“1970s Soul Food,” I’m glad I swung by to see this take on my generation’s decade back home.

Demotivational-Posters-McDonalds-5

I hope you’ve enjoyed these delicious developments as much as I have. Stay tuned for follow-on flirtations with Far Eastern fast-food. I can already smell the humor, and can taste the fun!

Conquering Japan, one crappy burger at a time....

Conquering Japan, one crappy burger at a time….

 

McDonald’s American Vintage Campaign: I’m Lovin’ It!


There is ANIME for everything in Japan!!

There is ANIME for everything in Japan!!

“We are homesick most for the places we have never known.”  ~Carson McCullers

“Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.”  ~Peter De Vries

“Too much has been forgotten in the name of memory.”  ~Don DeLillo, Americana

50s-fads-skirt-200x250Remember the good’old days when everyone was young and innocent and all was right with the world?  When poodle skirts flowed and showed curvy calves, and neck scarves and bobby socks completed a look….  When school-produced and chaperon-provided “Sock Hops” dances were held in gyms across the country…and “The Twist” defined a decade?  When red & blue 3-D glasses were common in theaters across the country, and pointedly, women’s bullet-bras shaped the standard of what was alluring?  When beatniks were not quite cool, but would never be found at the faddish American drive-in….

And women unfortunately "knew their place...."

And women unfortunately “knew their place….”

Those are some of the things I think about when I consider “American Vintage.”

12063653094_bf5aa0b4d0_b

american-vintageWell, McDonald’s in the Far East is flirting with all-things Americana, particularly with their new “American Vintage Campaign,” unveiled through a 1950s American Diner menu recently released here in Okinawa.  In a phrase, McDonald’s Japan is attempting to take the nostalgia that many in the East have for most things West, and cram it into sandwiches and on top of fries which neither resonate with our prototypical ideal of an American Diner, nor with the food of that time!

Fonzie would at least be cooler than Obama....

Fonzie probably would benefit from Obama-Card….

dreamNow, when an America thinks of a 1950s Diner, what may come to mind?  Perhaps “Happy Days” and “The Fonz.”  Or, perhaps, you might think about a classic period true American Diner or the time, a la James Dean and Marilyn Monroe (and the other strap-hangers and wallflower that make up that iconic night crew).  And the standard American vintage meal of the period is easy enough to conjure up:  a no frills burger, fries, soda, and perhaps a malted milkshake….

True Vintage Food, Americana Style

True Vintage Food, Americana Style

the-fonzdb-2However, here in Japan, they are…doing it wrong.  As least partly.  For instance, the signature “American Vintage Diner” items seem to consist of two sandwiches and special-order french-fries.  The burger – the “Diner Double Beef” – is anything but American Vintage!  Check out the layers of oddly unique Asian-inspired flavors and textures:  a double beef burger on “graham” buns (???), with Chicago-style steakhouse sauce (whatever that is), fresh onion, cheddar cheese, and get this – an egg, AND, wait for it…

The Diner Double-Beef!!

The Diner Double-Beef!!

Mashed potato sauce!  Yummy.  In fact, so oddly delicious (I’m told) that Inside the Actors’ Guild has invited a new word for it:  scrumtrulescent.

The Actors' Guild Can't be Wrong

The Actors’ Guild Can’t be Wrong

diner-honey-mustardhBC255DDCThere is also a crispy chicken sandwich – the “Diner Honey Mustard” – with, yes, you guessed it, honey mustard, in addition to bacon, cheddar, and lettuce.  Now that seems more like it, I mean, more something like we would find on a diner menu.  Although mustard of such sauciness may have been a wee-tad spicy for the conservatism of the McCarthy-era 50s.  However, it wouldn’t be weirdly Japanese if they got even this one (and just one), just about right; both sandwiches are served with what they call “Classic Fries,” which, in the Far East interpretation, is presented as a build-your-own fries box, complete with processed cheese product to be squirted directly from a plastic packet, then topped with a sprinkling of “bacon-flavor topping.”  We all should be smart enough to know that such a phrase only means artificial bacon flavoring infused into the most unappetizing parts of the pig…which I’m told doesn’t taste or feel like bacon bits at all.  I can honestly say that in my nearly 48 years on the planet I never encountered such a concoction at a Micky-D’s!  Anywhere in the world for that matter.

12064150876_f6dbb8ea71_b

funny-Ronald-McDonald-girl-cute12063680024_1ff019f119_bHowever clever McDonald’s in Japan has been with their vintage-themed décor, it still can’t quite bring one to consider either the establishment or their newfound food as anything close to an American 1950s diner.  They have reproduced some classically delightful Americana posters and prints, and in some instances, have made clever use of space, color, and shape.  For instance, turning the waste bin into a jukebox is a stroke of genius, as is covering their service counters with a loud, McDonald’s palette infused checkerboard pattern.  They also offer an American Vintage tee-shirt, which I’m sure will sell “real good” (note the vintage grammar in the photo at left), as most things American do here in Okinawa where our western influence is at extreme.

The Hippest Trash Cans Around!

The Hippest Trash Cans Around!

Count'em, FOUR thumbs up!

Count’em, FOUR thumbs up!

12063655374_33c9c0ff06_bIn all fairness, I can’t say that I’ve tried these menu items.  And my heart and arteries thank me for, daily.  Oddly enough though, I do frequent McDonald’s here in Okinawa about 1,000 times more than I ever did back in the Motherland.  Fountain sodas are hard to find in Okinawa, where everything is canned or bottled, and the Western-style breakfast they offer simply can’t be beat when pressed for time or confounded by a lack of orange juice at home….  The food franchises here are especially clean and well attired.  The service, like most anywhere else in Japan, is friendly and impeccable, and amazingly fast compared to our standards of fast-food at home.  All these things combined make a trip to the Golden Arches quite refreshing here in the Far East, so much so that I was the one to ask the wife to stop by in order to pay homage to this vintage campaign!  That said, though, the true downfall of Japan isn’t going to come through scarce natural resources, a failing economy, or a slow cultural death brought on by over-indulgence on manga, anime, and coffee and comic overdoses.  Rather, it’s going to be through good’old vintage health problems brought on by the “MegaMac!”  My Gawd look at that monstrosity!

My Hearts Hurts from Just Looking at it....

My Hearts Hurts from Just Looking at it….

Would Huggy-Bear Approve?

Would Huggy-Bear Approve?

That could be BBQ sauce on his head.

That could be BBQ sauce on his head.

However, it gets even BETTER!  This vintage campaign is actually a set of three battling bites of Americana:  “1950s American Diner” now playing, “1970s Soul Food,” and “1980s Pop Culture Cuisine.  If you think they have missed the mark on American 50s diner food and feel, wait until the “Soul Food” menu comes out at the end of the month.  On tap will be the Huggy Bear “Hot & Groovy Chicken” and “Hot & Groovy Beef.”  At least they’ve been uber-creative with their entrée names….  It remains to be seen if they will inadvertently offend those Americans who insist of being African as well.  The overall campaign ends at the beginning of March when their 1980s Pop Culture Boy-George “American BBQ Chicken” and, you’ll never guess, the “American BBQ Beef” will have been served since the middle of February.

Demotivational-Posters-McDonalds-5

Stay tuned for those delicious developments.  I can already smell the humor and fun!

Which do YOU prefer??

Which do YOU prefer?? More importantly, which would WIN?!?!

meanwhile-in-japan-mcdonalds-kfc-funnykevinbolk2

Hotto Motto (ほっともっと): Take-Away Food for the Gods!


Our Hotto-Motto Take-Away Dinner

Our Hotto-Motto Take-Away Dinner

“Fast food is equivalent to pornography, nutritionally speaking.” ~Steve Elbert

Jody's First Visit!

Jody’s First Visit!

Okinawa Oct 2013, Eats HottoMotto, Okinawan fast foodHotto Motto:  Japanese fast-food take-out chain, with over 90 locations on Okinawa.  Some open 24/7, others serving either side of lunch and dinner.

Ambiance:  Take-away only; clean and brightly lit stores with limited parking.

Service:  Good & quick.

Cocktails:  None; beer may be available in standalone coolers.

Food Quality:  Very Good.

Features:  Well-staffed, but some with only a single register.  Orders can be called-in prior to pick-up.  Dollars may be accepted, but better value will be realized if Yen is used for payment.  Kid-friendly meals are available.

Cuisine:  Bento-style Asian-inspired meals cooked fresh and served hot.

Price/Value:  Very good.

My Waitress was NOT Wearing this Uber-Cute Outfit

My Waitress was NOT Wearing this Uber-Cute Outfit

Okinawa Oct 2013, Eats HottoMotto, bright logoHotto Motto (ほっともっと) is a Japanese fast-food chain specializing in take-out bento, found in all but five of Japan’s 47 prefectures.  They are generally small storefronts which offer limited parking, and with the vast number on Okinawa (90+), there is probably one just down the street from you which you might not even know about!  But you should.

Find the Western-Inspired Meals!!

Find the Western-Inspired Meals!!

I’m not sure if this generally proves to be true, but as fast-food, it seems that most of the staff at various locations cannot speak English, so have your cell-phone translators ready.  However, English menus, or at least subtitles, are readily available and are enough to the job using the point-and-smile-at-the-picture method of ordering.  A Google translation of their menu is available, but the site can be cumbersome (and frustrating) to use.

Thank Goodness for Cell-Phone Translation!

Thank Goodness for Cell-Phone Translation!

Okinawa Oct 2013, Eats HottoMotto, dinner in a box for 5 dollarsThe food at “HM” is cooked fresh to order, and most is served Bento-box style.  The 50+ menu items are centered Japanese-grown chicken (tori), but other meats are available.  Additionally, there are soups (Soba of course), salads, rice bowls (-don), and surprisingly a variety of items seemingly inspired by American eating habits (“hamburg”).  The chain is very kid-friendly, and offers a wide selection of kids’ meal options.  And, most interesting and different for fast-food, the chains’ specials change every few weeks, which no doubt draws people back early and often.  HM also offers party plates which range from ¥3,000 to ¥5,000, while their reasonable lunch bento boxes cost between ¥290-590.   Small add-ons – mini-soups and small salads – can be purchased for ¥100-150.

Cheap Enough to Pay For with Change!

Cheap Enough to Pay For with Change!

Hotto Motto’s owners tout the healthy aspects of their take-out cuisine, which is both cheap and tasty, sure signs in America that the food is most certainly bad for you!  That doesn’t seem to be the case here, however.  The chicken is fresh, and the ingredients are simply and wholesome, and most importantly, every request is cooked-to-order to insure maximum hot freshness.

Girl-Group AKB48 Members Can't be Wrong!!

Girl-Group AKB48 Members Can’t be Wrong!!

2010-12-28-044531Stop by Hotto Motto, decipher the menu, and surprise your loved ones with Japanese fast-food take-out.  Everyone will be happy, including your wallet/pocketbook!