McDonald's is rolling-out a line of "Big America 2" burgers in Japan.
The fast food giant is Japan's top restaurant chain by number of stores is introducing the Idaho, Manhattan, Miami and Texas burgers to pay homage to the American company's homeland, and its thirst for heavy-calories and fat-packed meals.
The Burger Idaho features a quarter-pound beef patty, melted cheese, strips of bacon, onions and pepper-and-mustard sauce. To honor the Idaho potato, it features a circular block of hash brown potatoes atop the beef patty. The calorie count: 713.
The Texas 2 Burger—with chili, three buns, cheese and bacon—comes in at 645 calories.
The Miami Burger only has 557-calories--only slightly less than a traditional Quarter Pounder with Cheese. The burger does not have the expected Cuban, Jewish or "South Beach Diet" influences one might expect from a Miami Burger. It is meant to evoke the spicy flavor of the American South, or what McDonalds Japan refers to as southwestern “tacos” in their description. It features tortilla chips—not as a side dish, but placed atop the beef patty.
And the Manhattan Burger features an artisan bun, a slice of mozzarella cheese, fresh lettuce, onions, and a slice of pastrami.
As the Wall Street Journal points out, McDonald's has been bowing to consumer demands for healthier food offerings in the U.S. But in Japan, McDonald's is banking on oversized burgers stuffed with nachos, hash browns or chili to stimulate sales and profit.
Could this be a similar strategy to that of the tobacco companies who began promoting cigarettes outside the U.S. when smoking in America began to decline?
"I believe we are not going in a completely different direction to the U.S.," a McDonald's Japan spokesman said. "Consumers in Japan see beef as what McDonald's can offer, and it tastes good. It's our core competency."