If you're American, fast food doesn't get more normal than McDonald's. Although some seasonal sandwiches (the infamous McRib, for example) polarize the general public, the majority of items on the McDonald's menu are as culturally ubiquitous in the United States as baseball or apple pie—McDonald's apple pies served in sleeves, are arguably more "American" than homemade ones, at this point.
McDonald's has some strangeness up its proverbial sleeves, however, even if it mostly shows it outside of North America. No matter where in the world your travel takes you, following your hunger to McDonald's will produce a bigger shock than you might expect. These are the strangest McDonald's menu items from around the world.
Taro Pies in Thailand
Menu items notwithstanding, one advantage of visiting the fast-food chain in Thailand is that mini-locations exist in big Thai cities like Bangkok. Meaning you can snag a dessert or drink on your way out of the BTS SkyTrain (but not on the way in—food and drink are prohibited).
Ronald McDonald doing the traditional Thai "wai" is not the weirdest thing you'll see at McDonald's in Thailand. That honor goes to the bright purple taro pie, made with a taro root that is definitely not as purple in real life as it is inside the pie's crispy crust. To be sure, the pie tastes more like sugar (and, if you can imagine it, the color purple) than it does taro, but it's too strange a sight to resist trying for very long.
Pao de Queijo in Brazil
Pao de queijo (cheese bread) is a staple snack food in Brazil, having originated in the state of Minas Gerais, and subsequently spread throughout the country. There's even a chain of café stalls named "Pao de Queijo," just in case you're ever confused about where to find the cheesy bread.
McDonald's, however, has far more locations throughout Brazil than any individual purveyor of pao de queijo, which makes the fast-food giant a safe bet for finding the classic snack, no matter where in the country you find yourself. While it's unlikely that the flavor or texture of McDonald's take will compare to the one you enjoy, fresh-baked, from a grandma in Belo Horizonte, it should get the job done, more or less.
Ikasumi Black Burger in Japan
The "black burger" has been all the rage in Japan (and, thus, the rest of Asia) for quite some time, featuring black buns and cheese, usually dyed using squid ink.
While Burger King launched the first mainstream black burger in the island country, McDonald's quickly followed suit, most recently with the Halloween-themed Ikasumi Burger.
Squid ink doesn't change the flavor of anything it's added to—that's one of its main selling points—which means that dining on a strange black McDonald's burger in Japan is mostly valuable as Instagram fodder.
Fancy French Hamburgers in France
It remains to be seen whether McEscargot will ever become a thing, but one French cuisine stereotype to which McDonald's lives up within the land of snail-eating is the generally high quality of food. It's not uncommon to see hamburgers at McDonald's in France served on fancy bread like ciabatta, for example, or topped with sophisticated cheeses like brie and emmental.
On the surface, this might not seem strange enough to be one of the weirdest McDonald's menu items around the world, but it certainly goes far to work against the reputation of the fast-food chain as being trashy.
Bratwurst Burger in Germany
Moving right along the European stereotype express takes us to Germany, whose Das Nürnburger consists of...you guessed it: Bratwurst Sausages.
German food purists might take exception with the idea of eating bratwurst, which is readily available throughout the country, at a place like McDonald's, to say nothing of a bun that looks like it should cradle a hamburger instead. On the other hand, McDonald's does tend to be a lot quicker and cheaper than your local biergarten.
Honey Butter French Fries in South Korea
When you hear that McDonald's serves french fries topped with honey butter, you'll probably imagine this existing somewhere within the Deep South...of the United States. While it's true that the weird McDonald's menu item Honey Butter French Fries exists in the "south," it's South Korea, not South Carolina. South Korea gets to claim them as its own. Surprising, but not totally shocking, given South Korea's love affair with sweets from around the world, like the churro.
Salmon Wrap in Norway
Norway is one of the world's top producers of smoked salmon and, by extension of that, salmon in general. While McDonald's in Norway doesn't currently serve lox (perhaps thankfully, depending on your requirements for the quality of the smoked salmon you eat), you can nonetheless enjoy salmon at McDonald's in Norway.
Specifically, the Laksewrap features fish-flavored cubes that are apparently made with salmon, although the world may never know if this is true. You know, the same idea behind the persistent rumors that "Chicken" McNuggets are not actually made of chicken, but a pink sludge.
Sticky Rice Burgers in the Philippines
Sticky rice is a staple food item throughout Southeast Asia, but it's at McDonald's in the Philippines where the glutinous grain is taken to its most glorious form. Namely, the McRice burger, which uses "buns" made with sticky rice to house otherwise ordinary burgers made of chicken or beef.
McRice is exclusive neither to the Philippines nor McDonald's (Japan's MOS Burger serves up a similar burger throughout Asia), but McRice can provide a welcome break from the Philippines' famously heavy food, without straying too far from the culinary traditions of greater Asia.
Kiwiburger in New Zealand
The name of New Zealand's Kiwiburger derives from the nickname of people who come from New Zealand and not the bright green fruit, which will either delight or dismay you, depending on how strange you like your McDonald's menu items.
To be sure, the Kiwiburger is none too normal in spite of this, featuring red beets and a "poached" egg—this is McDonald's, remember, not your favorite brunch spot in Auckland. Come to mention it, neither beets nor poached eggs are classically New Zealand, which makes the Kiwiburger seem all the more bizarre.
Lobster Roll in Canada and Maine
It's difficult to visit New England (or maritime Eastern Canada) without partaking in a "Lobster Roll," a dish of bread, mayonnaise, and shredded lobster meat whose name, when pronounced by locals, usually sounds like "Lob-stah."
While the McDonald's version you find at restaurants in Maine and certain Canadian provinces probably costs less than those you find at more authentic shops along the coast, word on the street is that the McLobster Roll (unofficial name) is less than true to its inspiration, and consists more of mayo than lobster (if the seafood meet you find on it is actually lobster at all).