The Fattening of Japan

January 22nd, 2007

An interesting thing in discussions about obesity in America is the big divide between the opinions of Americans and those of the rest of the world.

People in America have a pretty varied set of hypotheses: Americans eat too many carbohydrates. Americans eat too much high fructose corn syrup. Americans eat too much meat containing various steroids and other chemicals.

People outside America have much less disagreement about the causes, positing that: Americans eat too much. Period.

I suppose part of the reasons that Americans look for all these other causes, besides the obvious, is that they look at their Molto Enorme Grandisimo Starbucks, and their Quarter Tonner hamburger, and think, “What, we’re just eating regular portions. There has to be some sneaky reason involving arcane medical and biological magiks at fault.” I know that when I discussed this with my parents, they basically blew off the idea that the portions were generally big in America, positing that I’m just used to the miniscule portions served in Japan.

Well, that excuse will soon be gone. Japan is getting fatter, and, hey!-what-a-surprise!, portions are getting bigger. Starbucks, which used to serve “Short”, “Tall”, and “Grande” portions, now serves “Venti”. And McDonalds is currently having a headache due to their newest product, the limited-time-only “MegaMac”:


The MegaMac is pretty much exactly the type of hamburger that Japan has traditionally avoided as being just plain too-damn-big-to-actually-eat. McDonald’s Japan, presumably, noticed, “Hey, you know what, Japan is changing. People are eating more. Maybe we can make a product that aims at this niche market of big eaters.”

The problem is that the niche market has turned out not to be such a niche market. The MegaMac was always intended to be a limited-time-only hamburger, going on sale January 12th, to go off sale on February 4th. However, within the first 5 days of sales, it managed to sell twice as well as expected, and McDonald’s Japan, worried about their decreasing beef inventory, had to limit the number of MegaMacs sold at each location each day.

The McDonald’s near me now has a limit of 20 MegaMacs per day, and, according to the staff, usually sells out before noon.

McDonald’s, in an amusing effort at conciliation with customers who didn’t make it in time for the day’s MegaMacs, is giving out coupons…for 160 yen off a MegaMac. Which, in a sense, makes sense: if the problem is that you’re running out of meat, you certainly don’t want to give customers a coupon for another (in-stock) hamburger; after all, you could make your own MegaMac for the same price with just a 90 yen off Big Mac coupon and two regular hamburgers.

One Response to “The Fattening of Japan”

  1. dingadong Says:

    i don’t usually eat at mickey d’s, but really wanted to try the megamac when i saw it advertised on the train. that and the mcgridle.

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