By now we’re sure you’ve heard of the latest Burger King marketing technique: the Whopper Virgins video. BK sent a crew to find people who have never seen a hamburger and have never heard of McDonald’s or Burger King. It’s hard to imagine that such people exist, but they do: BK found them among the Hmong in Thailand, in a small Romanian village, and in two Inuit villages in Greenland.
The first half of the video is the Big Mac vs. Whopper taste test. Not surprisingly, given that this is a Burger King commercial, the Whopper wins most of the time. It’s pretty amusing — these people have never seen a burger, so they don’t know what to do with it. One picks off a piece of the bun with his fingers. Another touches it gingerly and analyzes it from different angles, to figure out how best to eat it. One woman asks whether to use utensils or her hands. One girl in Thailand really liked her first taste of pickle.
The whole thing is portrayed as a sharing of cultures, except this type of thing usually doesn’t run both ways. First of all, it’s sad to think that a fast-food burger is the official American culinary export. Secondly, fast food has a tendency to destroy local food cultures, often to the detriment of the local populace’s health. Just watch the part where the Hmong villagers make food for the film crew. They put out a spread of greens ladled out of a large pot, a red curry/stew-type thing and what looked like bok choy. OK, so we couldn’t exactly figure out what each dish was, but regardless, it appeared to be a healthy balanced meal with plenty of green things. The kind of food that has sustained these people for centuries. It just takes a burger or two to throw off that balance.