McDonald's Sells "Big America" in the Land of Skinny

McDonald's Japan is serving up American-themed, American-sized burgers.

January 14, 2011, 4:14 AM

TOKYO, Jan. 14, 2011 — -- McDonald's in Japan is at it again, serving up American-themed burgers at American-sized portions.

McDonald's Holdings Co. rolled out round two of the successful "Big America" campaign earlier this month, featuring the Texas 2, Idaho, Manhattan and Miami burgers.

The previous campaign helped the company post record sales last year, and included themed burgers from New York, Hawaii, California and Texas.

McDonald's stores in Japan began selling the first of its "Big America 2" burgers last week.

The Texas 2, a 645-calorie concoction, sandwiches a burger patty, chili, cheese, onion, bacon and a mustard-relish sauce between three hamburger buns.

It is only available for a limited time, and will be replaced later this month with the Idaho burger, featuring hash browns, bacon, onions and pepper-and-mustard sauce.

The Miami burger, slapped with taco meat and tortilla chips, will follow. The Manhattan -– a burger patty stacked with pastrami and mozzarella cheese -- rounds out the lineup.

Sisters Hitomi and Tomomi Sasaki made the trip to McDonald's in the trendy Shibuya district on a recent afternoon to taste the Texas 2 before it was taken off the menu.

"If it's only around for now, I have to try and test it out," Hitomi said.

"It looks just like what I imagine American burgers to be," Tomomi added. "Big, and rich in flavor."

This isn't the first time American food chains have marketed "big" in the land of "skinny."

While the Japanese have long been known for their healthy diets, consumers have shown an affinity for Texas-sized burgers, especially when marketed as a limited-time product.

In 2007, McDonald's launched the Mega-Mac, a four-patty burger sandwiched between three buns.

The company originally planned to sell it for a month, but decided to bring it back several times that year after stores sold more than 3 million Mega-Macs on the first weekend.

McDonald's extended sales of the original Texas burger after selling more than 4 million within four days, doubling expectations, a company spokeswoman said.

Japan Has No Beef With Mickey D's

Perhaps Burger King created the most buzz when the company teamed up with Microsoft to market the "Windows 7" burger: a seven-patty, 2,120-calorie sandwich.

The big burger promotions come at a time when the Japanese appetite is changing.

More young children and teenagers now prefer to eat meat over fish, a troubling trend for a country with a proud fish-eating culture.

In 2006, the per capita consumption of seafood dropped below meat for the first time, in part, because of teens such as Masato Tatebayashi.

"I get full when I eat meat," the 19-year old said, as he finished off his Texas 2. "Unlike fish, I feel like I've actually had a meal."

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