Icelanders this week are waking up to a bleak McDonald’s-less dystopia. The ubiquitous global chain no longer exists in the increasingly impoverished nation, where a near-total economic collapse has made it too expensive to import McDonald’s products. The island’s three Reykjavik branches, the oldest of which opened 16 years ago, closed for the last time at the end of October. The picture above shows the Sudurlandsbraut neighborhood branch during more economically prosperous times. Even then it seemed a little… austere.
Before you rush to congratulate our Nordic brothers and sisters on having liberated themselves from the shackles of corporate fast food slavery – which, we admit, was our initial reaction as well – consider that they themselves don’t feel particularly liberated:
Noisy crowds, long queues, and traffic jams plunged McDonald’s restaurants in Iceland into a state of siege Saturday, as the chain served its final burgers on the island… Extra staff were deployed to reinforce the outlets, whose disappearance after 16 years means Iceland will be one of the few Western countries without a presence of the ubiquitous eatery. Customers in one branch faced a 20-minute wait to be served and snaking lines of cars caused traffic jams at the drive-in. “I have worked here for six years, and I have never worked as hard as in these final days,” one staff member told AFP.
On our side of the pond, of course, we face the opposite problem. If you want to avoid any sign of McDonald’s – if you really, really can’t stand the sight of Golden Arches – the best you can do is to plant yourself between the towns of Meadow and Glad Valley in South Dakota. There you will have gotten as far away from a McDonald’s as you can in the Continental US. A whole 107 miles: