One of the great things about travelling is getting to try new kinds of regional food from all over the world, delighting in Russian borscht or German sauerkraut. But, did you know that fast food chains in foreign countries aren’t the same as what you’re used to at home? Well let’s travel down under to look at 10 things McDonald’s in Australia do differently than us.
10. It’s All in the Name
The Aussie’s will probably understand what you mean if you ask them for directions to the nearest McDonald’s to satisfy your fast food cravings, but you’ll find you have better luck if you ask them for a route to ‘Macca’s’ instead. In America, you’d be more likely to hear the nickname ‘Mickey D’s’, but that’s not how things roll in the land down under. Instead, ‘Macca’s’ is the term of endearment used by burger and pastry enthusiasts alike. No, not macaroon, though you can find those sweet treats in an Australian McDonald’s, as will be discussed. And definitely not Macca as in mac n’ cheese, which, like in America, is not on the menu. And, though you should definitely try the signature and well-loved beetroot burger at an Australian McDonald’s, it doesn’t mean the maca root. In Australia, it’s all about Macca’s. Go ahead, say it out loud. It is one of the many fun slang words that you’ll encounter in Australia, along with the more well-known ‘mate’ and ‘crikey’, among countless other terms. Moreover, there’s a special ‘insider’ membership called ‘mymaccas’, where you can earn points, provide important feedback, and save your favorite selections. Macca’s is almost as fun to pronounce as it is to actually visit, so book your flight to Australia today. As the Aussies would say, you’ll ‘defo’ have a great time!
9. Different Toppings
An often overlooked but decidedly crucial part of a fast food feast is the sauces and dressing you slather on top of your burgers, dip your fries into, and drizzle over your salads. That’s right, condiments! Fast food just wouldn’t be the same without them. One major difference between the Australian and American menus in this regard has to do with a well-known and often misunderstood condiment. Can you guess what it is? You know it, it’s vegemite! The Aussies sure do love their vegemite, which is made out of leftover brewery yeast extract, vegetables, and spices. It’s a unique food spread that the rest of the world may question, but don’t bash it until you’ve tried it, which you can do at any McDonald’s in Australia. Other condiments you can only find at Macca’s include a garlic Aioli sauce and whipped butter. But, there are also some condiments only available in America, some that the Aussies miss out on. For example, you can order a salad with Ranch dressing, French or Italian dressing, or creamy Southwest dressing in the United States, but not so in Australia. And, should an Aussie want a taste of habanero ranch sauce or honey mustard sauce with their Big Mac, they’ll have to fly to North America!
8. Bucket List Wi-Fi
“Free Wi-Fi” is a term that’s become ubiquitous around the world and McDonald’s is no exception. While most McDonald’s locations worldwide offer free WiFi, Macca’s locations in Australia put a very McDonald’s-esque spin on the whole idea. At Maccas you’re not getting free WiFi, you’re getting free Wi-Fry! According to their website, “Connecting is simple: When in the McDonald’s restaurant, just turn on the Wi-Fi on your device. Then select “Macca’s Free Wi-Fry” from the available wireless networks” You’re probably thinking, hey, this sounds a lot like regular WiFi, what’s the difference? And the answer is, well, nothing really. It’s WiFi internet, just like you’d expect, but that doesn’t stop it from being extra cool! This is now on our bucket list, watching BabbleTop McDonald’s videos on the Macca Wi-Fry wireless network!
McDonald’s coffee has become a well-loved commodity, one that so many people simply could not live without. Indeed, it could even be considered as a main staple of the franchise. In Canada, it is a strong competitor for Tim Horton’s coffee, which is saying something when you consider just how much they love their Tim’s. In Australia, the hype for Macca’s coffee is very real, maybe even more so than in North America. How could this be, you may ask in disbelief, seeing as America is known globally for drinking coffee instead of the more European choice of tea? Well, when the Aussies head to their local coffeeshop, they head to ‘McCafe’. No, they don’t go to Macca’s to order a McCafe. They go to McCafe to order a coffee! That’s right, you’re understanding me correctly: There is a whole other restaurant spinoff branch, one that more closely resembles a café than a fast food chain restaurant. At McCafe you can satisfy all your coffee shop cravings, with countless sweet pastries and coffee combinations to choose from. It’s a smart business model, considering the people who are hungry for burgers may not be the same people who are thirsting for coffee. This way, everyone wins!
6. Different Choices
One of the fun parts of travelling is trying out new types of regional food. This doesn’t just mean unique dishes in cozy little mom-and-pop type restaurants, though those are fun too. But, it can be especially interesting to see what kinds choices are available in seemingly familiar restaurants. Don’t walk into Macca’s and expect to see a menu exactly like the one you’re accustomed to in America, because you’ll be sorely mistaken; yet, all the while being happily surprised! One thing you may find intriguing is the fact that Macca’s burger patties are made with 100% home grown Aussie beef. So, why not try out the ‘Big Brekkie Burger’, or, if you prefer chicken over beef, there’s also the ‘Chicken Brekkie Burger’, two breakfast burger variations available in Australia. Another burger you may want to try is Macca’s triple cheeseburger. Sure, you’ve heard of America’s double cheeseburger, but in the land down under they prefer three patties garnished with three slices of cheese. Go big or go home! Further, in the United States there is sometimes a limited-edition angus burger available, but in Australia the angus burger is a permanent fixture on the menu. It’s an Aussie favorite, along with the Wagyu Beef Burger, and the beloved Beetroot Burger. The rest of the world may not understand the love that Australians have for beetroot, but why not give it a try and see what you’re missing?
5. Fries With That?
Everyone knows that french fries are an absolute staple of any self-respecting fast food chain restaurant. But, in Australia, they say “step aside” to plain old fries. At Macca’s, you can garnish them with the topping of your choice. In America, people are used to McDonald’s fries drowning in salt and dipped in ketchup. In Canada, you can have them dressed like their national food, the poutine. The Australians, however, take their McDonald’s fries to a whole other level. You can get them smothered in gravy, or, more popular is the sweet chili and sour cream fries. Picture it. A pile of fries, piled high with gobs of thick sour cream, and topped with mouth-watering chili for a burst of sweetness. Can you taste it? You know you want to! Another delicious option is Macca’s signature fries loaded with BBQ and garlic. You may wonder why there are so many flavorful options available in Australia. Well, that would be due to the 2016 ‘Fries with That’ initiative, where a Macca’s in Sydney opened up and shocked customers when they realized the only thing on the menu was french fries. There were seven available toppings, including flavors such as Chipotle cheese sauce, curry, pesto mayo, and Caesar sauce with bacon and parmesan, among others. So many choices, but only the best made it onto Macca’s permanent menu.
4. Delectable Deserts
In America, ordering dessert at McDonald’s is not a very complicated procedure. The hardest choice you’ll have to make is choosing the flavor of your McFlurry, that is, if the notorious ice cream machine is even working! If not, you will probably have to settle for an apple pie. Not so in Australia! The selection of deserts at Macca’s more closely resembles a pastry shop than a fast food joint. There are countless delectable and gourmet desserts to choose from, each richer and more aesthetically pleasing than the last. Macaroons are a fan favorite, coming in a rainbow of colors. There are slices of different types of cakes, so you’ll definitely be able to find the flavor that suits your taste. Do you prefer carrot cake? What about double chocolate cake, or perhaps you’d rather a thick piece of raspberry cheesecake dripping with jelly? You’re sure to find a cake you’ll enjoy, but if cake isn’t really your dessert of choice, have no fear! Alongside the cakes are a selection of gourmet pastries, such as Belgian waffles or a great variety of muffins, sweet buns, and decorative donuts. Finally, if you love ice cream but aren’t a huge fan of McFlurries, you can order soft serve ice cream cones or other types of ice cream drinks instead. No matter what your sweet tooth is salivating over, you can find it at Macca’s.
3. No Value Menu!!!!
Some of these differences between McDonald’s and Macca’s really give you ideas for how to improve the franchise here in the United States. However, here’s one difference that actually reads more as a drawback than an improvement: The McDonald’s in Australia DOES NOT have a value menu! There is no such thing as the dollar value menu at Macca’s, and never has been. That means you always need to buy a full-sized meal, even if you just want to snack on a small burger or something similar. One of the reasons the value menu is so loved in America is because it can be an affordable way to feed a struggling family, unemployed teenagers and adults alike, or anyone suffering with financial stress. Not everyone can afford to pay over ten to twenty dollars for a meal, and the dollar menu makes fast food available to anyone and everyone. You may argue that it’s not healthy for people experiencing poverty to eat at McDonald’s but let’s be real: Everyone eats out once in a while, and those with money problems still deserve the opportunity. Plus, it’s a huge time-saver. It’s not always possible to buy groceries and then have to put in the time for meal prep, too. The value menu at McDonald’s is more helpful than not, allowing empty bellies to be filled even if their wallets are empty too. Macca’s may have an outstanding selection of foods and deserts, but what’s the point if not everyone can enjoy and indulge?
2. Frozen Coke
It gets HOT in the summers down under! When the sun is pounding down, it feels like a sauna even in the shade, the water is boiling, and the air is sweltering, you need something to help you cool down. Sounds like the perfect time for a stop at Macca’s. No, not for ice cream, which would be sure to melt in mere moments. Not for a soda pop either, though you’re getting closer. Even a bubbly soda warms up fast during Australian summers, so to provide an alternative drink that is both delicious and helps keep you chilled out as much as possible, Macca’s introduced their acclaimed ‘frozen coke’. Carbonated beverages are capable of being frozen, which is a blessing during the hot summer months in Australia. No need to add extra ice, which takes up precious beverage space, and melts into plain water anyway. Instead, you get a big glass full of delicious frozen coca cola, which quickly melts to allow you to enjoy icy fresh soda. Additionally, if a plain frozen coke isn’t quite enough, you can order a frozen coke float as well. Your taste buds will thank you for this treat of frozen coke served with scoops of vanilla ice cream on top. It is somewhat reminiscent of a root beer float, except the soda pop is frozen solid, so the ice cream stays cold and it all melts together to create the perfect drink to brave Australia’s heat waves. Cheers to that, yum!
The biggest aspect of McDonald’s in Australia that really stands out from that of America is the entire look. Macca’s has a unique aesthetic design that is both modern and inviting. The sleek, fresh structure somehow still manages to transmit a warm atmosphere. Instead of feeling plastic and cheap, Macca’s uses wood and steel for a contemporary and slightly higher-end look, all the while retaining the familiar McDonald’s vibe. Further, it’s all in the details. Meals are served up on thick wooden tablets instead of flimsy plastic trays with fries in wire baskets, and even better, these platters are delivered by designated servers directly to your table! No more standing in line waiting for food, you can pay at either the cash or one of the large self-serve touch screens, then take a seat and wait for your food to come to you. Now that’s a luxury not usually seen at many fast food restaurants. The trade off, however, is that with higher quality comes higher prices. The business model for fast food restaurants is meant to be quick and simple, in-and-out. Macca’s, however, seems to push their business to the very edge of what could be considered ‘fast food’, leaning more into mid-to-higher end territory. This is not necessarily a good or a bad thing, it’s just different, and draws in a different range of customers. As long as it appeals to customers and the food hits the spot, it’s worth the risk. Macca’s in Australia may not look or feel quite the same as McDonald’s in America, but in the end they’re both similar joints that are sure to leave you full and satisfied.