I’m not a real junk food hound, but every so often I get a craving for McDonalds and Dairy Queen. The other day I went on a bit of a rampage and had a Big Mac, cheeseburger and fries from Mickey D’s and a Turtle Pecan Blizzard from Dairy Queen.
Now arguably, the Big Mac is nature’s perfect food, possessing all the four essential food groups – salt, sweet, fat and cheese – but what really struck me is that the Big Mac I was eating was absolutely identical to every Big Mac I have ever had.
It got me musing about all the places I have had a Big Mac. Beijing, Capetown, Amsterdam, Paris, New York, Johannesburg and on and on. With the exception of the vegetarian “Maharaja Macs” I had in Mumbai and Delhi, every single one of them was identical – bang on the money. Yet they say that “foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” – so what gives?
It is the very fact that a Big Mac is going to be a Big Mac no matter when or where you eat it is precisely the secret of its success. I can recall when I was studying at ESSEC in Paris in my twenties, there was nothing more epicurian than sitting outside a left bank McDonalds at a proper Parisian cafe table with a Big Mac, frites and a half liter of red wine (yes, McDonalds sold wine!) watching Paris walk by. It was a comforting taste of home, yet it was jazzed up in true Paris style.
Similarly, when I was in Beijing for the run up to the 2008 Olympics, giving a speech on the innovation and commercialization ecosystem in British Columbia, it was Mickey D’s that provided that familiar taste of home, when Peking Duck wasn’t on offer. My Mandarin is pretty much limited to “2 beers please, and thank you,” and so it was great to be able to point at the laminated picture menu with a big smile, and there it was – nature’s perfect food!
So clearly, consistency has it’s place. In a world where we have such a frenetic amount of “innovative churn” that it is almost impossible to buy the same toothpaste or deodorant twice in a row, it is good to see some things never change – they don’t need to!
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