There are a few countries where McDonald’s isn’t the main player when it comes to fast food. China is one of them, in China the Colonel reigns supreme, but in the Philippines, it is all about Jollibee.
When I first started traveling to the Philippines, I assumed that Jollibee was simply a McDonald’s rip-off, but in fact, Jolibee beat McDonald’s to the punch in the Philippines by a full 6 years.
The net result of this has been that fast food culture has developed its own slant in the Philippines, and rather than everyone copying McDonald’s, essentially McDonald’s has to copy Jollibee. And this has created a very amusing situation for visitors to McDonald’s in the Philippines.
For anyone that has seen the founder, there’s a moment where Ray Kroc storms into a game of golf being played by some of his franchisees and asks why the hell McDonald’s is serving fried chicken, to which the reply is “people like fried chicken”, to which Ray Kroc replies “well let them go to somewhere that serves fried chicken”.
Ray Kroc would not be very happy if he was alive and in Manila. McDonalds Philippines essentially is a menu of fried chicken, rice, and something called McSpaghetti. I’ll get back to that later.
Tragically all the classics like, you know a BigMac exist on a tiny part of the main menu called “classic burgers” that seemingly exist just for foreigners.
Now to McSpaghetti! And my reason for visiting McDonald’s this day (or McDo as they seem to call it in the Philippines). Jollibee is famous for its sickly-sweet spaghetti with slices of sausage in it. Jollibee and its spaghetti is indeed famous, or rather infamous throughout the world for its “unique” spaghetti.
As with anything the market leads, so as McDonald’s, Philippines made McSpaghetti. So, how does it taste? I’m weird, I guess in that I quite like Filipino style spaghetti, although I can understand why it gets sticky. Overall it seemed quite a lot less sweet than the Jollibee variety, and the sausages are quite flavorsome. It was OK. To be fair though, a meal it did not make, and it was washed down with a real Mcdonald’s hamburger, and a coke. Change can be good, but the classic is still classic. I got your back in the Philippines, dear founder Ray Kroc.