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Culinary Crusades

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Ronald McDonaldFirst there was KFC and McDonalds. They were the early missionaries, harbingers of the upcoming culinary invasion. Starbucks was not far behind and now Burger King, Beard Pappas and many others have established themselves in Bangkok.

Other forms of cultural imperialism are understandable; iphone fever in Bangkok is really no different than in the US. Google just offers the nicest search, maps and more. The technology assimilation of the entire world makes sense in a way the “fast food” invasion never will.

America looks down upon the purveyors of “junk food” such as McDonalds. Yet in Thailand they compete with the mid-range dining establishments. They tailor their menu as appropriate, they build nice looking stores and generally do all the things they refuse to do in America, where they compete for the lowest common denominator dining dollars.

And still, I totally understand the obsession with Krispy Kreme. Same thing happened in the US when they first expanded, people just don’t remember. They quickly came to dominate their market because their donuts were just better and you could see them being made fresh.

But it is amazing to see entrepreneurial types reselling doughnuts on Thanon Sukhumvit, and those incredibly long wait lines at Siam Paragon are hard to fathom. Surely there will be more to come, like Bangkok Bagels or IHOP Bangkok. America’s junk cuisine onslaught will not be stopped until the average earth dweller is 10 kilos overweight.