So then, what’s the ‘Texas Stack’ going to look like?


Alternative headline: “What’s all this, then, eh?

This ad, for a menu item McDonald’s only sells in Britain, is just beyond bizarre.

What were they thinking? This would be like Americans promoting a “London Stack” with a guy wearing a tam o’ shanter and kilt and complaining about how much the meal costs.

Reference is made to a “sweet and tangy South Carolina sauce.” That would be a bit of a step up. Have you ever tried the ketchup in a McDonald’s in England? I have. It’s the weirdest. They seem to leave the vinegar out — it’s just pure sweetness. No tang at all. It comes in the same little packets that say “Heinz” on them, but it’s nothing like American ketchup. Ask for some brown sauce instead…

28 thoughts on “So then, what’s the ‘Texas Stack’ going to look like?

  1. Jim Cross

    It’s simple — to Europeans, all Americans are cowboys. Besides, South Carolina is in the South and the South is the hotbed of country & western music. By the woman’s last wardrobe and wig change she was definitely rockin’ some Dolly Parton. And Dollywood’s not that far from South Carolina ….

    (the “tangy sauce” is probably just some run-of-the-mill BBQ sauce they plop on the burger — and it’s likely made in New York City 🙂 )

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “to Europeans, all Americans are cowboys.”

      Of course, but this is one of a series of “Great Tastes of America” — including the “New York Stack,” the “Louisiana Stack” and the “Tennessee Stack.” If you’re going to go Dolly Parton, why wouldn’t you do it on the Tennessee Stack?

      It’s just bizarre…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            The sauce would be called “Fire on Fort Sumter.”

            If it’s too hot for you, you just add some “Calhoun Nullification Sauce”…

      1. jim Cross

        David Crockett for Tennessee? I would expect something jazz-related for New Orleans.

        1. Dave Crockett

          It would probably be barbecued bear. But I won’t be in the ad, if they call…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Hey, your ancestor played along with the image, why not you?

            If I’d met you when I was a little kid in the ’50s, I’d have been so envious of you I couldn’t have stood it. To have Davy Crockett’s NAME? That would have seemed like Nirvana to me…

                1. Dave Crockett

                  No, you were right the first time. And Fess Parker played BOTH roles (the former in the movies and the latter on TV). Of course, my version of the line is (given Davy’s Crockett’s checkered record in Washington, innumerable illegitimate offspring and uncertain final demise in the Alamo) that when he “kilt a bar, when he was only three…”, the phrase actually is a reference to an early alcohol problem. 😉

                  Alas, growing up with the name, responses ranged from “Is that REALLY your name?” (yes) to “Are you related?” (yes, supposedly a fifth cousin) to “Were you born on a mountaintop in Tennessee?” (no, actually the now defunct Garfield Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC) to “Where is your coonskin cap?” (the only one I ever had was briefly at age 5).

                  But most folks just called me “Cricket” or “Crunchit” or “Crock-of-s**t”. Both of my grown sons went through the same experience.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    But I’ll bet it was more intense for you.

                    Back when I manned the Gibson County Bureau of The Jackson Sun, I was sort of proud that one of the counties on my beat was Crockett — although I didn’t go over there much. Gibson and Carroll counties produced more news.

                    Rutherford, which bills itself as “Last Home of Davy Crockett,” was just a few miles up the road from my office in Trenton — but I never went to see his cabin, which is shocking to think about now.

                    Of course, I spent most of my time working for the Sun in Jackson itself, where I loved to show the historical marker on the Madison County Courthouse grounds, where Davy — after losing his re-election to Congress — famously told voters, “You can go to hell, but I am going to Texas!”

  2. Karen Pearson

    And they can’t get our style BBQ sauce right either. Sweet and spicy doesn’t describe either our mustard base, or our vinegar based sauces. My bet is that it’s McDonald’s ‘one sauce fits all’ sauce–a not very spicy ketchup based sauce. I’ll pass, thanks.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Exactly. This is the sort of aberration we should not be normalizing. First, you’re putting BBQ sauce on hamburgers, the next thing you know, you’re referring to hamburgers as BBQ, and that’s just crazy talk.

        And if that state of affairs continues, we need to think long and hard about whether this whole democracy experiment is a complete failure…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author


          Trump’s bad enough, but when respect for our country falls so low that those pantywaists in England start portraying us as people who put barbecue sauce on hamburgers, we have fallen a long way.

          The Brits wouldn’t have dared do that when FDR was president — Churchill wouldn’t have let them!

  3. Phillip

    Given that the US is the world champion at ignorance of other cultures in the world (not through lack of access to information but simply because…Amurika!!!—so we don’t have to care!) it’s hard to get too worked up about this and I’ll at least give the Brits points for naming a burger after our little state.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      But did they pick SC at random? It’s not like they started with an idea for something that somehow evoked SC, and decided they would name the sandwich after us. It’s like they came up with the sandwich — and the costumes for the ad — and then drew “South Carolina” out of a hat.

      And you know what? Here in SC, I doubt we ARE “the world champion at ignorance of other cultures in the world.” South Carolina, being on the East Coast and having a major port, probably interacts with the world a good bit more than, say, Idaho or Wyoming.

      Being ignorant of the world — and as you suggest it is an American thing more than a South Carolina thing — actually IS a function of lack of information, although we could argue whether the chicken or the egg came first.

      Americans have been historically uninterested in the rest of the world — originally a function of geography, but also because of notions from the beginning that we were a new world that needed nothing from the Old (not an entirely accurate assessment, given that we needed manufactured goods from England early on, but we still had that attitude, particularly among the segments of the population who did not buy those goods, and wore homespun).

      Because of that, American media have always gone light on coverage of the rest of the world, since their readers had little interest in what happened abroad. American media paid attention only when really horrific things happened in the Old World, which reinforced the domestic idea that the rest of the globe consisted of places best avoided. Vicious cycle.

      Finally, American popular culture has played a role. It is so dynamic, so hypercharged — whether you’re talking movies or jazz or other forms of popular music or even design and fashion — that it exerts an outward pressure that is greater than the pressure exerted by other cultures. Especially over the last century, it’s been rather explosive while other cultures were relatively static. That has led to a cultural hegemony that, even if our media weren’t so insular, would cause people in other countries to know more about us than we know about them.

      Bottom line, we’re talking about a lot of powerful national and global forces that go beyond a mere inclination toward provincialism…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Our inwardness is a self-perpetuating thing. Because our culture and our economy have been so dominant, other people go out of their way to learn English and absorb our culture as a way of succeeding in the world.

        That makes it even less necessary for Americans to become conversant in other cultures, even when we’re abroad, which of course adds to the whole Ugly American, philistine image.

        But you know, sometimes them furriners won’t even LET you reach out to them. During her Peace Corps stint, my daughter became quite fluent in Thai. She had to, because she lived way out in the country where she was the only farang a lot of people had ever seen.

        But in Bangkok, I was struck by a phenomenon we encountered. The first day we were there visiting her, we went up to the hostess in a (VERY Western) mall food court, and my daughter addressed her in English. When we walked away, I asked her why. She said she could tell at a glance, from the way the young woman was dressed and I suppose the way she carried herself that this was one of those Thais who would be insulted if my daughter addressed her in Thai — she would take it as an assumption that she wouldn’t understand English.

        I saw an illustration of that in a place far from Bangkok, but nevertheless a place that saw a lot of tourists. My daughter DID start to order our breakfast in Thai, only to have the guy curtly let us know that he understood English, so my daughter finished the order in English. The guy only brought us the things we had asked for in English, and sent someone else over to take the rest of our order.

        This is complicated by a contrasting phenomenon that struck me about Thais, something that is very much like what you refer to with “Amurika.” They are VERY proud of all things Thai, quite chauvinistic about it, if you’re inclined to be critical of it — which I was not, because I agreed with them about the things they loved about their country, and I was pleased to see that THEY saw how awesome it was.

        But there were these anomalies — like the “speak English to me” thing, and the fact that women make a big thing of using makeup that makes their skin look paler. I found that distressing. I wanted them to just be themselves, because I thought being Thai was pretty cool…

  4. Angus McSnee

    “This would be like Americans promoting a ‘London Stack’ with a guy wearing a tam o’ shanter and kilt and complaining about how much the meal costs.”

    You’re the wee hen tha’ nevuh layed awee. I would nae put it past an American ad agency ta dae tha’ very thing!

  5. JesseS

    “What were they thinking? This would be like Americans promoting a “London Stack” with a guy wearing a tam o’ shanter and kilt and complaining about how much the meal costs.”

    Now I can only think of the Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace episode where he complained about getting a deep fried hamburger in Scotland and would be haunted by “Scotch” ghosts (complete with kilts claymores) for refusing to pay for the burger.

    Dagless: The cabin crew suggested we all go out and club it. I had no option. It was that or one of their B&Bs. I figured it’d be safer on the streets. For the first time ever I saw the Scotch in their natural habitat, and it weren’t pretty. I’d seen them huddling in stations before, being loud but… this time I was surrounded. Everywhere I went it felt like they were watching me; fish-white flesh puckered by the Highland breeze; tight eyes peering out for fresh meat; screechy, booze-soaked voices hollering out for a taxi to take ’em halfway up the road to the next all-night watering hole. A shatter of glass; a round of applause; a sixteen-year-old mother of three vomiting in an open sewer, bairns looking on, chewing on potato cakes. I ain’t never going back… not never.

    Sanchez: My aunt lives in Scotland; she says it’s quite nice.

    Dagless: Well, she’s wrong.

    1. JesseS

      But back to the ad. I got a good laugh out of it.

      What visual association would you have if someone offered you a Rhode Island Burger? Got nothing, right? If you asked most Brits to show you South Carolina on a map they’d have no idea, let alone be capable of telling you anything about the place. Outside of Charleston if you asked a Brit in SC they’d ask you for directions out of here. So it’s all good fun and it makes a point.

      The only ad that annoyed me was the KFC Georgia Gold ad. You are going to put mustard sauce on BBQ chicken and call it Georgia? My childhood summers were grilled chicken quarters slathered in yellow sauce with salted watermelon for dessert.

      Good sir in gold paint, that’s cultural appropriation!

      Then again, Maurice probably had a trademark on “Carolina Gold” and KFC wanted to stay as far away from that one as possible. Can’t blame them for that.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        You say “salted watermelon” as though that distinguished it from generic watermelon.

        Who would eat watermelon without salt?

        A Yankee, I guess. But who else?…

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