Since 1955, McDonald's golden arches have welcomed hungry fast-food fans to an oasis of burgers, fries and chicken nuggets. Part of what has made McDonald's a global phenomenon, however, is the chain's effort to diversify regional menus in countries outside the United States, catering to the sensitivities and taste buds of the local market.
While Americans might love their Big Macs and McChicken sandwiches, it's possible they just don't know what they're missing, according to a recent post by Foreign Policy magazine, which details the top 10 best food items not available at chains in the U.S.
The mouth-watering list includes delicacies such as the Japanese Ebi Filet-O, made with breaded shrimp; the Croque McDo, a version of France's classic croque-monsieur (an open-faced ham and cheese sandwich); and the BigSpicy Paneer Wrap, an Indian menu addition made with breaded paneer.
Each year in China, McDonald's customers can look forward to the limited-edition Prosperity Burger. Made with beef, with black pepper sauce and onions, the special patty is only available over the Chinese New Year celebration, according to the New York Daily News.
And perhaps there can be no higher praise than that for the McArabia Tagine, a cumin-spiced flatbread sandwich served up in franchises across Morocco.
“Honestly it tastes Moroccan,” Noor El Ghoumar, a customer, told the GlobalPost.
McDonald's India is even planning to cut meat from some of its store's menus with plans to open its first two vegetarian restaurants in 2013, according to the BBC.
"When you walk into a McDonald's -- no matter where you are in the world -- the restaurant should connect to the local culture," company representative Lizzie Roscoe said in 2010. "We are a global company, and at the same time, we are a neighborhood business. So when you look at our menus... you'll find food that reflects local taste preferences."
For more local menu additions, like the McRice Burger or Chicken Maharaja Mac, visit BuzzFeed for a list of 45 McDonald's items that are not available in American McDonald's stores.
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America's Drive-In rounds out the top 10 with U.S. revenues of $3.6 billion.
KFC, the biggest chicken vendor in America, comes in ninth with revenues of $4.7 billion, though there were 107 fewer outposts in August 2011 than there were the year before.
8. Pizza Hut
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/27/pizza-hut-ads_n_911106.html" target="_hplink">Good ads</a> equal big revenues for the biggest pizza chain in America. Pizza Hut took in a solid $5.4 billion in 2010.
7. Dunkin Donuts
America runs on Dunkin' to the tune of $6 billion a year -- that's almost $20 for each and every person in the country.
6. Taco Bell
2010 U.S. revenues of $6.9 billion make Taco Bell the biggest Mexican restaurant chain in the country.
Starbucks may have had a few hiccups <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/13/starbucks-bistro-boxes_n_897768.html" target="_hplink">when it comes to introducing food</a>. But its success in beverages has propelled American's biggest coffee purveyor into fifth place among fast food chains, with 2010 revenues of $7.6 billion.
Wendy's fries may be <a href="http://www.slashfood.com/2011/04/20/wendys-fries-vs-mcdonalds-fries-taste-test/" target="_hplink">number one</a>, but its revenues aren't there quite yet.
3. Burger King
Number two burger chain Burger King was sold for $3.26 billion to 3G Capital in 2009. 2010 revenues of $8.6 billion make that sound like a deal to us! (We know, we know, there's a difference between revenues and profits...)
Subway has the most outlets of any fast food brand; it expanded that total by 816 in the past year alone. But because each store is relatively small, revenues, at $10 billion, pale in comparison with those at the number one chain.
With revenues standing at a whopping $32.4 billion in 2010, the Golden Arches aren't being dethroned any time soon. What's surprising about its success is that per store sales at McDonald's are bigger than those even cult-ish brands with fewer outlets. With $2.4 million <em>per store</em>, they're second only to Chick Fil-A, which fans travel miles to visit.