One of the most iconic symbols of U.S.-style capitalism is returning to socialist Venezuela. Yes, McDonald’s french fries are making a comeback after a 10-month hiatus.
The Golden Arches stopped selling their signature fries because of the high costs associated with importing potatoes. Now, the brand is sourcing local potatoes from Venezuelan farms.
The return of french fries was promoted with a social media campaign this week, but the company’s official Twitter feed left out one important detail. Because of ongoing problems with the Venezuelan economy, a large order of fries costs about 10% of the monthly minimum wage, or roughly $133 (800 bolivares). That’s more than a dollar per french fry.
“The customers have been coming in really excited. But when we tell them the price, not so much,” said cashier Yefferson Romero at a downtown Caracas location.
Because of shortages and currency controls, the fries are likely to drain customers’ wallets while raising their blood pressure. Perhaps McDonald’s loyalists could try yoga, which can lower blood pressure after just three weeks. If not yoga, then perhaps yuca.
When McDonalds pulled french fries from the menu last winter, customers had to settle for fried yuca, a South American root crop. Meanwhile, Burger King is reminding customers that they’ve been offering fries all along.
On social media, some Venezuelans are accusing the government of trying to please voters ahead of contentious national elections. According to Fox News Latino:
“Venezuela is four weeks away from hotly contested national elections in which the ruling socialist party may suffer its first major electoral defeat. The government has been implementing a number of policies in recent weeks to please consumers, including forcing retailers to lower prices.”
McDonalds has about 100 locations in Venezuela. The new locally sourced fries only cost 64 cents at the going black market rate, but go as high as $79 at the strongest of several official currency rates.