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Calling All Canadians, Help Explain the McLobster McLobster: Where to Find McDonald's North Atlantic Seafood Sandwich

What McLobsters, McRibs, McCrab, McArabia, and the McLaks say about the regionalization of the homogenous McDonald's fast food chain.

Why the Internet discovered McLobster in the middle of the winter is beyond me, but MyFox News, the Los Angeles Times, and millions of Google searchers were all over the story this week.

Since I live in Maine, where they've reportedly been sighted, and I had never actually tasted one, I decided to go out looking for the elusive McLobster. One source told me the sandwich was a seasonal sandwich reserved for tourists. Across the border, in the Canadian Maritimes, travel writers characterize the whole island of Prince Edward Island by its devotion to a regional sandwich known as McLobster. Still, barring a 18-hour road trip, I'm not going to score a McLobster until the summer—and, even then, one franchise told me the last McLobster they served was eight years ago.

So where did they come from? The first reference I could find was in October 29, 1990, in a article in Maclean's (not online):

In Maine, they call it a McLobster sandwich—three ounces of lobster meat mixed with mayonnaise in a bed of lettuce heaped on a freshly baked bun, all for $4.50. Thirty-five McDonald's franchises in the New England state are taking advantage of last year's North American lobster surplus.


Ten years later, on July 16, 2001, the Canadian Press Newsire wrote (not online):

The Big Mac hamburger and French fries will remain king at the fast-food giant, but McDonald's is experimenting with expresso coffee, sandwiches, decadent cakes and even poutine and McLobster in Canadian test markets.


But last year, on August 20, 2010, the Globe and Mail reported:

McDonald's recently ended a promotion on a McLobster sandwich.


While I can't tell you what it tastes like or whether they're coming back, the McLobster is not the chain's only attempt at regional offerings. They've tried the McRib (the South), the McCrab (Maryland), the Chicken Maharaja Mac (India), the McItaly burger, the McArabia, McLaks (Norway), and a McAfrica pita.

And despite its reputation as a symbol of globalization, local customs and adaptations occur at McDonald's all over the world, beyond the company's intent, as James Watson persuasively argues in his book, Golden Arches East. In other words, people give meaning to food beyond the meanings that corporations intend.

In the end, lobster might be a more sustainable option than fish sticks, although, North American lobsters are essentially farmed using baited traps full of herring, redfish, and pogies. Perhaps it's time to make the pitch for another sandwich entirely. I vote for the McSardine.

Photo (cc) by Flickr user meddygarnet

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