A recent article from the New York Post on Iceland’s tourism boom dropped an unsourced contention in a single sentence that set Iceland on fire for a few days: “[Iceland] is so hot that even McDonald’s is following the bankers back to booming Iceland.”
The article is mostly about how Iceland’s tourism boom has begun to attract investors of all stripes, largely ignoring the McDonald’s question until the end of the article, where it repeats the citation-free contention: “Ten years later, after its white-hot recovery from its financial collapse, the nation of 340,000 is poised to see the Golden Arches rise again at several locations. There could be no more potent symbol of Iceland’s re-embrace of capitalism.”
We are here to tell you that this is completely false. Or rather, if it is true, no one is admitting it, on or off the record.
One of the people cited in the New York Post article, Federation of Icelandic Industries director Sigurður Hannesson, was contacted by Fréttablaðið, who asked him if he was the source of this McDonald’s renaissance contention, and he replied that he never said this. Vísir asked the hamburger chain themselves if they were on their way back to Iceland, and the company responded that they have “no plans to open a restaurant in Iceland”.
Which frankly should surprise no one. Over two years ago, business magazine Viðskiptablaðið contacted McDonald’s corporate offices asking if the fast food chain was returning to Iceland, and received the exact same answer.
There used to be a McDonald’s in Iceland, but after the initial hype of the first one opening in 1993, business gradually began to cool down. By 2009, the financial crash added additional pressure to the mix, and the last remaining McDonald’s shuttered its doors for good.
Those nostalgic for McDonald’s Age Iceland are not without hope, though. The last surviving hamburger sold at McDonald’s is on display under glass at Bus Hostel Reykjavík. Chillingly, it still looks brand new, nearly 10 years after the fact.