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The Differences Between McDonald’s in England and the US

You’d think the ingredients would be the same, but you’d be wrong.

England has a prime minister, the US has a president. People in the UK drive on the left side of the road, not the right. Plus, there’s that whole rejecting-colonialism-thing that Americans started in 1776. But, one thing that unites the two countries today are the cravings for McDonald’s that people on both sides of the Atlantic get. If you often fancy a “cheeky McDonald’s” (and the Brits say) then you might be interested to know that, even though many of the foods on the menu taste the same in the US and the UK, there are a lot of differences between how things are done in different locations.

McDonald's sign, Brooklyn, NYC
McDonald’s in Brooklyn, NYC. Via: Quentin Bounias /Unsplash

One of the biggest differences is that in the UK the drink and fry sizes are smaller- as much as 40% smaller depending on the item. This means that if you order the same size of Big Mac meal in both regions the US meal will have many more calories. Even the Big Mac itself, which weighs about the same in both regions, has more calories in the US than in the UK and this is down to another key difference in the foods served: ingredients.

Big Mac sandwich
Via: Frédéric Bisson/ Flickr

In the UK ingredients for the famous McDonald’s fries are simple: potatoes, oil, and salt. In the US the ingredients list is quite long and includes several different types of oil as well as preservatives to keep the fries looking a more intense shade of yellow. As for the Big Mac the special sauce ingredients have more types of sugar and sweeteners than in the UK, which explains how the two sandwiches would have different caloric values.

two very different sizes of McDonald's fried side by side
The difference between large and a Happy Meal size fries in the U.S. Via: Crystal Jo Unsplash

Of course, there are some differences in what’s on the menu as well. There are a few things you can only get at a UK McDonald’s like the Veggie Deluxe Burger, the Chicken Legend Sandwich, the Wrap of the Day, and Veggie Dippers.

While the UK menu skews a bit healthier, the items that are American exclusives go the opposite direction. US-only menu items include the Shamrock Shake, the McGriddle, the Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich, and the Sausage Breakfast Burrito. In the US there are also a variety of sweet and/or iced coffee drinks available, too.

a McDonald's menu board
Via: Erik Mclean / Unsplash

Find out about all the differences between McDonald’s in the US and the UK in the video below.