A week or so ago, my parents and I hopped in the car and drove from Michigan to Rhode Island, unfortunately due to a death in our family. My dad is from Rhode Island and my mom is from Massachusetts; technically I too am from Massachusetts, although we moved to Illinois when I was 5 years old, and four years after that, we moved to Michigan.
We cut through Canada to get to Rhode Island, because it saved us an hour (versus cutting through Pennsylvania), and luckily we all had current passports.
On our first day, on our way to Albany for the night, we stopped at a McDonald's in Canada, and the menu was quite interesting. I usually get a grilled chicken sandwich and fries at McDonald's, but I didn't see that option on the menu. When I inquired at the cash register, the employee working there said that their Country Chicken came grilled, so I could order that.
Country Chicken? I had never heard of it. Intrigued, I ordered a sandwich and a small order of fries.
According to McDonald Canada's website, Country Chicken consists of "grilled or crispy seasoned Canadian chicken breast, topped with white processed cheddar cheese, crisp leaf lettuce, fresh tomato, and applewood smoke seasoned sauce, on a sesame and poppy seed glazed bun. It's a satisfying sandwich you'll feel good about."
When my sandwich was ready, the first thing I noticed about it was the bun - it looked tasty and fresh. When I order an (American) grilled chicken sandwich, the bun is often a bit flat. This bun, however, looked delicious.
My mom ordered a Chicken Snack Wrap, figuring that it would be comparable to the ones we've tried before in the U.S. Instead, it came wrapped in a very large tortilla, and it was more of a meal than a snack - we were both surprised at how large the tortilla was.
This got me thinking - what else are we missing out on here in the U.S., snack or bun-wise?
If we're solely talking about McDonalds, the Burger Lad blog is on it: in 2015, McDonald's Canada was advertising Cottage Country Chicken (the entree I ordered, I believe), a Western BBQ Burger, and even a McLobster, which is housed in "a soft buttery roll, made the East Coast way."
Buzzfeed, too, is quick to remind us sad Americans what we are missing: in 2011, the website wrote an article entitled "45 McDonald's Items Not Available in the U.S. That Should Be," which included a Carbonara chicken sandwich (chicken breast with white cream sauce, scrambled eggs, bacon, and mozzarella); a Chocolate and Orange Pie (deep-fried pie filled with orange-flavored chocolate); and Brie Nuggets (Russia), aka fried brie, mozzarella stick-style, which sound quite amazing.
However, more non-U.S. brands have been bringing their snacks here - Pocky is a good example of this. At one point, you probably would have only been able to find the treat in Japan, but it's now available throughout the U.S.; I even saw it in the "ethnic foods" aisle of my local Meijer, a Midwest chain grocery store.
After I attended the Honey Summit last September, in Chicago, I ended up ordering some Lay's Honey Butter chips, as well as Sweet Basil, off of eBay, since those are two flavors that we don't have in the U.S. The chips shipped from Thailand, and were actually a very reasonable price, with free shipping, as I recall. I'm a major foodie, and when the chips finally arrived—an excruciatingly long six weeks later—my boyfriend and I tried them out.
The verdict? The Honey Butter chips were delicious - sweet and tangy. The Sweet Basil chips, though, were a bit too spicy for my liking. Even so, it would have been nice if U.S. stores carried these intriguing flavors, so I would not have had to wait such a long time to try them out.
(As a side note, Honey Butter seems to be a trend nowadays - G.H. Cretors recently released a Honey Butter Kettlecorn flavor, which I recently tried, and it was delicious.)
The big question, then, is this: when will U.S. consumers have access to this smorgasboard of deliciousness on which we are apparently missing out? Not to say that U.S. companies aren't making an effort - in August of last year, Kettle Brand chips (Snyders-Lance) released two new interesting flavors, Korean Barbecue and Moscow Mule. Quinn Snacks recently released its Real Butter Tastes Better microwave popcorn line, which includes a Truffle Butter flavor, and in March of this year, Crunchmaster (TH Foods) released Savory Pumpkin crackers, all of which I'd be interested in trying.
Until we have access to Honey Butter chips, though, it's back to eBay for me ...