“So this is what America tastes like”, I thought, dreamily, on my first trip to McDonald’s, more than thirty years ago. There was no branch then in my home town, but a schoolmate’s parents took a group all the way to London for a birthday party. It was so new: perfect yellow squares of processed cheese, thin-cut fries, mouth-scorching apple pies. Mostly, I remember being startled by the flavours: sugary and salty with an undertow of dill.
The Golden Arches do not appear sparkly-fresh any more. On 23rd January, the world’s largest hamburger chain announced falling global profits for the fourth successive quarter.
In China, sales have been hit by scandal: a supplier was found guilty of using out-of-date chicken and beef. As a result, McDonald’s sales in Asia have dropped faster than anywhere else: by 4.8 per cent this quarter.