Friday, November 02, 2007

You Drink Our Calpis and We'll Eat Your McWrap

The Golden Arch launched McWrap today. For some reason, the page is entitled: WrapSLYME

The gaijin cachet that transforms hopeless dork into irresistible hunk has been chronicled here by The Asian Exile. But this phenomenon is not limited to men. It extends to all sorts of consumer products and services, not the least of which is the fast food industry.

Take Krispy Kreme: Now as doughnuts go, I think that KK is fine. In fact, I thought it was much better than Dunkin' Donuts, or even (I am ashamed to admit) most of the donuts sold at New York delis. Not only did they come warm to the touch, but managed to maintain their chewiness longer than their scientifically less sophisticated competitors.

But donuts is donuts, and it never fails to amaze me when, almost a year after it opened, I walk past the Shinjuku Krispy Kreme and rain or shine; weekdays, weekends; morning, noon, or night; always I see that one-hour-plus waiting line folding over itself again and again like a small intestine until it spills over onto the JR Higashi Nihon overpass nearby.

And it's not just Krispy Kreme. Maybe it was just New York, but I remember inner city McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Wendys as down-scale, often depressing, once even alarming, places, and not the brightly-lit shops full of high school students, moms with kids, and salarymen in a hurry that we see in Japan.

So I guess my question is: can White Castle be far behind?

Of course it works the other way around as well. The basic Yoshinoya beef bowl debuted in New York at roughly twice the Japanese price (this was before the mad cow disease scare), and you had to get used to paying $10 and more for non-gourmet udon and ramen. And much of Japan cool is actually Japan kitsch.


MTC said...

Okumura-san -

For the McWrap, is not the "W" silent? If so, we may have an inadvertent winner in the "truth in advertising" department.

Jun Okumura said...

Which of course channels one of my old descriptions:

Anyone Can Sell Crap,
We Move S**t.

James said...

It's pretty lame that people waste an hour in line at Krispy Kreme when they can enjoy a much better selection at Mr. Donut. Doughnuts + Chahan!

Jun Okumura said...

Actually, James, I prefer their ramen+dimsum sets.

WDSturgeon said...

I must admit, I chuckle now when I fill up at Exxon and see day old Krispy Kreme sitting on the shelf. And to imagine, I once lusted for them, wishing I had an hour to stand in line to have some warm fluff.

That being said, we also feel natsukashii when we drive past 7/11. But we know not to go inside: it only makes us more "homesick" for a real convenience store.

Jun Okumura said...

Speaking of 7/11, the conbinis are expanding their merchandise and becoming more like regular supermarkets, as the supermarkets are staying open later and later, eating into the late-night conbini market. Closing time at my neighborhood supermarket has gone in the last eight or nine years from 10PM to 11PM to now 11:30PM.