Big Mac or Falafel?


In America, fast food restaurants are everywhere and very inexpensive. When going on a road trip it isn’t surprising that most exits have a McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s or all of the above. In Israel there are few fast food chains that exist. Fast food chains rule the United States with their cheap, quick services that please most typical Americans. In Israel, their local fast food stores are also cheap, tasty but they can be a lot healthier. While Israel does have McDonald’s and Burger King, they aren’t that popular. When these chains first arrived there was excitement because it was an American food chain, but that excitement quickly died out. Apparently, Israeli’s do not enjoy the quickness and flavor of a Big Mac like us Americans do. Interestingly enough, McDonald’s is actually more expensive than other local fast food restaurants in Israel and they had to change their burger recipe in order for Israeli’s to eat it. Crazy to think about, right? Although expensiveness is a factor Israeli’s would rather eat falafel or shawarma, a grilled chicken, lamb, or turkey in pitta bread, than American fast food. There are actually people in the world that prefer not to be Americanized and eat healthier.

kosher-mcdonalds url

What is really interesting to me is that American fast food restaurants in Israel are more unpopular than anywhere else. When it comes to their food, Israel does not want anything to do with our food. American fast food chains dominant a large part of the world and it is interesting to see that many our Americanize food franchises have failed there. It is easy to see that our foods are vastly different but Israeli’s value eating healthier and more traditional meals. While I understand that every country has unique food it is interesting to see that our fast food chains haven’t been popular in Israel. Street food is more valued than these fast food restaurants because freshness and healthier options are more preferred than the processed crap we sell. Honestly it is a little refreshing that Israeli’s haven’t succumbed to the quick, processed foods in America.

But I also wonder if there are any local competitors that compete with McDonalds in Israel? How do those competitors survive? What do they do differently than an American fast food chain that makes them more desirable?’

Sources: The Jewish Chronicle Online, Tourist Israel, Haaretz

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9 thoughts on “Big Mac or Falafel?

  1. I think it is very interesting that the food chains that are immensely popular throughout the United States are so unpopular in other countries. Also, I think it would be very beneficial for McDonald’s in other countries to cater to the other cultures in which their businesses are located. For example, Chinese restaurants in the United Stated offer all the traditional options but also offer food that would appeal to Americans more such as chicken, fries, mozzarella sticks,etc. I think that if the McDonald’s food chains would tweak their menu slightly within each location to it would appeal to Israeli citizens and improve sales. I think it is essential for fast food chains to assimilate to the local culture.

  2. I believe the lack of dominance fast food restaurants have in Israel could pertain to the fact that meals are valued, as well as being a traditional part of their culture. In the United States, it is “normal” for families to take a trip to Mcdonald’s and call it their dinner, which I have personally witnessed after working there for two years. The demographics of the people that visit fast food restaurants in Israel would be something to consider as well, and would be interesting to see firsthand. In the United States we seem to rely on cheap and quick food to get us through the day, while local products, and diverse cuisines are more prominent.

  3. While reading this article I found it very strange that McDonalds changed their recipe because one of the main goals of McDonalds is to make the food taste the same no matter what restaurant a customer goes to. I am actually glad to hear that some places in the world do not like McDonalds and would rather eat healthy because McDonalds is so bad for people but to Americans it is just another dinner.

  4. I love that Israel values the quality of freshly made street food over greasy, cheap, fast-food options. Americans tend to gravitate to fast-food chains because that is what we are used to, however, I would love to see some falafel and other fresh food stands around the streets so people have more of an option when it comes to “grab and go” foods. Plus, who really knows what goes inside Big Macs. Would rather have the freshness of local foods.

  5. I think that this is really great that Israeli’s favor their traditional and local food rather than our fast food chains. It makes sense that the fast food chains have higher prices due to the process they make the food and have it sent over seas. When I was in mexico I saw the similar situation where the Mcdonalds was twice the price as the US and the people that worked there said the main reason they’re still even have business is because of Americans who come and eat there. I think its so strange how an american can go somewhere foreign and stick to their basic unhealthy chooses instead of trying traditional local foods, and I definitely think that this is a lessons us Americans can take away from Middle East.

  6. You mention that a lot of these fast food chains have failed in Israel..so are they still there? Or actively trying to win over the local crowd? Or have they been completely removed because no one wants to eat there anyway. This was a great blog topic..and it’s great to see a place that is not completely enthralled with becoming Americanized.

  7. If I’m being honest, I wish that America favored street food to fast food chains. I admire the fact that the Middle East has stuck so strongly to their culture’s food instead of incorporating American food on every corner, as many other countries have done. In a sense, I think this could be a lesson to us. Instead of just adding another fast food restaurant down the street, we should think about other, original food options.

  8. This is an interesting concept. I find it hard to compare falafel to the American McDonald’s, but I understand what they are saying about the difference in cultural habits. I feel like the article could have added something like comparing hot dogs in America to falafel in the Middle East. A lot of the regional food is sold from market carts like hot dogs in America.

  9. I ate falafel almost everyday over in Tel Aviv this summer! The main reasons why were the fresh quality and the fact that it was 6 shekels which is equivalent to about $1.50. Can’t beat that price for the quality.

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