Mash Donalds? Iranians Copy American Fast-Food Brands | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Mash Donalds? Iranians Copy American Fast-Food Brands

Play associated audio

Iran may not love America politically, but Iranians love American food — especially fast food.

With no formal diplomatic relations between the two countries, though, it's rather hard to find a McDonald's or a Pizza Hut. But if you wander through the streets of Tehran, you might find a Pizza Hat or a Mash Donald's.

The rise of the "fake franchise" caught the attention of Iranian-American Holly Dagres, a Middle East analyst and commentator, who travels to Tehran often from her home in Cairo. She published a photo essay on BuzzFeed in October highlighting some of these eateries.

Dagres tells NPR's Scott Simon she has counted nine so far that look familiar: Baskin-Robbins, Chipotle, Domino's Pizza, KFC, Mash Donald's, Pizza Hat, Raees Coffee, Subway and Super Star.

Raees Coffee is actually a replica of Starbucks, and Super Star is inspired by Carl's Jr. in the U.S., she says.

But these stores have nothing to do with the American franchises.

"I think Starbucks actually tried to sue Raees Coffee, but there was no success; and the same with KFC," says Dagres. "And they've done such a perfect job, in some circumstances, of emulating things. Baskin-Robbins and KFC look like the real deal. It's kind of confusing."

At Baskin-Robbins, for example, Dagres says you have the 31 flavors, with the same cups and spoons. But the quality of ice cream might be better because, in fact, it's Italian gelato.

If diplomatic relations were ever restored, would those faux franchises be in a difficult position?

Dagres says there would be lawsuits. "They might have to shut down, but I think it would be sad for the owners of those companies," she says. "These are just individuals that came up with a bright idea and thought it would be great to emulate American franchises."

We had to ask Dagres where she'd take us for lunch if we were in Tehran today.

"Since you're American, I wouldn't take you to a bootleg franchise," she says. "I'd take you for some really good kebab. But if you were really craving something American, I would take you to Super Star. And the only reason I say that is because it was my high school hangout, and I love their chicken burger.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Between The Laughs, South African Comedian Hopes To Educate

Trevor Noah, a new international correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, turns a sharp eye on American policy — while answering the questions about world news that people are afraid to ask.
NPR

Will Environmentalists Fall For Faux Fish Made From Plants?

A handful of chefs and food companies are experimenting with fish-like alternatives to seafood. But the market is still a few steps behind plant-based products for meat and dairy.
NPR

Republicans Gather To Galvanize, Share Ideas At 'Freedom Summit'

On Saturday, prominent Republicans from across the country headed to Iowa for the annual Freedom Summit, which supports "pro-growth economics, social conservatism and a strong national defense."
NPR

Virtual Games Try To Generate Real Empathy For Faraway Conflict

A corner of the video game industry is covering the news through immersive experiences. One game transports players into the middle of the Syrian civil war.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.