Venezuelans Can Now Buy McDonald’s French Fries — For a Small Fortune

Homemade Parsley Root French FriesVenezuelans may not have access to toilet paper, but at least they can get their McDonald’s fry fix — for a cool $126, that is.

According to Fortune and Business Insider, the beloved fast food chain is bringing its French fries back to Venezuela despite the country’s continued economic collapse.

In the U.S., where it’s not uncommon for someone to decide that a large order of fries would cover the recommended 2-2.5 cups of vegetables per day, it may be hard to imagine a world without McDonald’s French fries; in Venezuela, however, the spud sticks have been on hiatus for around 10 months.

McDonald’s franchises stopped selling French fries last winter, according to the Associated Press, and instead the chain has been selling fries made from starchy yuca plants, better known as cassava.

Because the country relies mostly on foreign imports for food, and because the Venezuelan bolivar is nearly worthless as a currency, establishments like McDonald’s were previously unable to procure items like potatoes. Potato imports reportedly fell by 85% in 2014, and McDonald’s was forced to take French fries off its menus in 100 Venezuelan locations in January 2015.

According to a spokeswoman for Arcos-Dorados, the group that runs McDonald’s restaurants in Central and South America, the chain was able to work with local potato farmers in order to bring the item back.

Yet many Venezuelans are viewing the move with suspicion, the AP reported; with national elections just four weeks away, it seems likely that the socialist government timed the reintroduction of French fries so that consumer support would build up just enough to produce positive votes.

Others are taking a more practical approach: a regular-sized box of French fries in Venezuela costs $0.64 and a large box costs $1.15. But the Venezuelan government hasn’t been too transparent regarding the bolivar’s dramatic inflation, so those prices don’t really reflect how much the items cost for Venezuelans.

According to the latter measurement, a regular box of fries is actually selling for 500 bolivars ($79 U.S.) and a large box is selling for 800 bolivars ($126).

The McDonald’s menus still lists French fries for $0.64 and $1.15, but the black market exchange rate puts Venezuela’s minimum wage at an actual value of $13.

In other words, if you want to buy a large box of fries in Venezuela, you better be willing to sacrifice 9% of your monthly wages for that snack — and you better be happy about it, since you’re not eating fried yuca roots anymore.

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