You just wanted a chewy burger and a syrupy strawberry milkshake. But in Roswell, New Mexico, you’ll have to face a metallic, green-eyed alien first.
For a chain that prides itself on conformity, McDonald’s boasts some rebels among its franchises. Thanks to local design restrictions, historic preservationists, and human whimsy, the world has left its mark on the Golden Arches. In Taupo, New Zealand, kids eat Happy Meals inside a red-and-silver 20-seater airplane from 1943. At the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, bow-tied staff serve nuggets under chandeliers while music emanates from an unmanned baby grand piano. Sometimes, the chain’s deep fryers sit atop historical artifacts, such as a chunk of a Roman wall dating to the 4th century BCE or the site of a safe house on the Underground Railroad.
So the next time you’re craving the familiarity of a mass-produced cheeseburger wrapped in crinkly paper, know that you can experience hidden histories and futuristic design all while staying in your culinary comfort zone. Here are 12 of the most out-of-the-ordinary iterations of the world’s largest fast food chain.
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