Sunday, April 1, 2007

Jollibee and the Hungry American

Excerpts from a column by Joel Stein of Time Magazine:

"After its first lap, globalization gets really interesting... (I)f you hold that piece of Filipino fried chicken up to your ear and are really quiet, you can hear what the rest of the world thinks about us...

Jollibee, with more than 1,400 stores in the Philippines and 11 branches in California, makes McDonald's look like a funeral parlor. Its mascot is a jolly bee, and the restaurants are blindingly happy, all giant, shiny yellow blocks, as if they were designed by an architect from Legoland. Even if you gave Walt Disney all the ecstasy in the world, he would not have come up with this. America, according to Jollibee, is clearly a place of childlike optimism. Jollibee's two most popular items are called the Yumburger and the Chickenjoy. The Yumburger has a weird, plasticky dollop of French dressing in the middle. The crisped-up French fries are dry inside and taste as if they weren't just double fried but dunked in oil four or five times. The fried chicken is halfway decent, but the inflated, happy fakeness of Jollibee makes you feel that the only American its Filipino owners have ever seen is Pamela Anderson..."

All this foreign American food seems campy fun--bright, sweet, smiley and likable. Even in a world where so many hate and fear us, they still want to be like us."

You can read the whole article here.

In the meantime, I would note that:

(a) Jollibee was already around well before McDonald's came to the Philippines, and

(b) Last time I looked, Jollibee was kicking Ronald's American behind - two to one - mainly because Filipinos liked the Champ's taste more than the Big Mac's. Jollibee's ahead, not because it reflects what it perceives America to be, but because its food caters more to Filipino tastes. And, I would presume, its US branches are there not so much for the Americans, but for the big Filipino community that resides there.

In other words, Joel Stein needs to be reminded that it's not always about them!


jordan said...

And I should agree with your argument... Joel Stein's words should be double-checked before putting them into publication since he is working in a reputable magazine like Time! Such shame...

Mapet said...

I agree. The title should have been "Jollibee and the Arrogant American."

Nigel said...

Jollibee predates McDonalds, but its current incarnation is a result of McDonald's then-impending entry into the Filipino market. The owner of Jollibees went to the US to find out McDonald's secrets, and as a result he's kicked Ronald's ass.

Loved their food, though. And Chow King. Filipino fast food rocks.

kingg said...

Jollibee is--let's face it--just another pesky Mcdonald copycat.

Neo Tuxedo said...

(Found this post while googling "joel stein needs to", hoping for scenarios more creative than a simple "be eviscerated".)

Joel Stein needs to be reminded that it's not always about them!

No, he needs to have it explained to him that it's not always about him. Hopefully so it takes this time. Along with other things he's completely failed to grasp in his 41 years on this planet, like that other people not only continue to exist when he's not talking to them, but that they have a reason to exist other than to have his words poured into their eyes and/or ears until their brains claw out of their skulls and run screaming to the nearest jar of formaldehyde.

Nothing about his public persona shows that he understands this. He certainly doesn't ever listen to anyone, since somebody Joel Stein is listening to is, by mathematical definition, someone Joel Stein is not talking to, and someone Joel Stein is not talking to is someone for whose existence Joel Stein cannot see any reason.