I have to admit, it’s been a little surprising seeing the reactions to the news that McDonald’s have closed their doors in Iceland. One popular right-wing TV show host on FOX News made quite a big deal about it, using this as the sign of a failing economy. That’s right, guys – when an American fast food chain can no longer compete against the hundreds of other tastier hamburger joints in any given country, then that country is clearly in a state of complete and utter financial collapse.
When I first came to Iceland, there was a McDonald’s in downtown Reykjavík. When it closed down, and was replaced by the restaurant Hressó, I thought, “Wow, good for Iceland.” The consumers decided they’d rather eat domestic food than what passes for food at McDonald’s. In fact, the McDonald’s that’s now gone has been replaced by a new restaurant called Metro, which serves much the same fare that McDonald’s did, only all the ingredients are domestic, even the packaging. This will even create some new jobs.
Isn’t that a good thing? I mean, regardless of Iceland’s economic situation, the fact that at least the fast food industry has taken this tiny baby step from imported to domestic is encouraging. And even though unemployment has been steadily dropping since April, we could still use all the job creation we can get.
Come to think of it, maybe fast food is the answer to Iceland’s economic troubles. Close Domino’s, replace with yet another Icelandic pizza chain. Close KFC, replace it with the resurrection of Akureyri’s legendary Crown Chicken. Close TGI Friday’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, Taco Bell, go right on down the list, replace them all with good ol’ Icelandic fast food. Sure, we won’t get any healthier, but the jobs created to supply these restaurants – instead of importing goods – will surely help.
And then who knows? Maybe Iceland can start exporting fast food chains to other countries. Sharing our fast food with the world is arguably a more noble cause than setting up investment firms and online banks. No matter how bad things get, the demand for food served in paper bags seldom wanes.
Man, I hope the government’s taking notes here. Climbing obesity rates and cholesterol levels be damned, forget exporting clean, renewable energy – fast food is clearly the future of Iceland’s economic comeback.