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How Soviet Union and the Communist ideology lost their battle of survival to McDonald's?

Updated: Feb 22


Yeah! You read that right, "McDonald's"!


The Soviet Union formally dissolved on December 26, 1991, but it was on January 31, 1990 that the Bolshevik dream met its death. On that day, a McDonald's, a private entity, a token of capitalism opened in Moscow.


fast food giant had petitioned the Communist Party to open an outlet and finally received their positive approval in the year 1988. The Moscow outlet was no ordinary, small outlet. It had 900 seats, 700 inside and another 200 outside and rang out customers on 27 cash registers, an appropriate super-sizing for a city of that magnitude and a rare ambassador of American consumerism and capitalism. (It was the only fast food restaurant in Russia at the time).On the inaugural day, the world saw that there was a demand. More than 5000 Russians lined up in Pushkinskaya Square before it opened. 30,000 customers passed through the doors on that day to get a bite of pure capitalism, setting a record for the number of customers served by a McDonald's in a single day. A Big Mac was selling for 3.75 Roubles, a little steep considering the average Soviet wage was 230 Roubles, or about $400 a month, but the demand and craze were pretty evident.


The image of the Golden Arches in Pushkin Square seemed like a triumph of Western Capitalism, and customers lined up around the block for their first taste of a Big Mac. Establishment of Big Mac was one of the many social factors that lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Francis X. Clines of The New York Times interviewed a pipe factory worker who said he forked over four days’ wages for a Big Mac, cheeseburger, apple pie, and two milkshakes. Customers were impressed by American customer service’s culture of politeness, a sharp contrast to the culture prevalent in Soviet.


“There is a lesson to be drawn from this for the country,'' teacher Tatyana Podlesnaya told Clines in 1990. “What is killing us is that the average worker does not know how to work and so does not want to. Our enthusiasm has disappeared. But here 'My Meal' turned out to be just a supplement to the sincere smiles of the workers.”


The Soviet Union may have fallen, but the Moscow McDonald's continues to be subjected to politics. In 2014, it was closed for “health and safety violations,” though many suspected retaliation over the United States’ sanctions against Russia over the Kremlin’s actions in the Ukraine.


To conclude, all I'll say is that the world is a better place to live, in absence of The Soviet Union and in presence of McDonald’s.


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References:

  1. Ottawa Sun

  2. Mental Floss

  3. Britannica


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