A recent collaboration between the most recognizable K-pop boy band and fast-food chain has people super stoked. We’re talking shrines for meal packaging and opportunistic scalpers reselling at exorbitant prices. Yes, we’re talking about The BTS Meal at McDonald’s.
First launched in late May in select countries, The BTS Meal has been released progressively in almost 50 markets around the world, including the United States, India, and Australia. It was launched in the Philippines last week and just hit Singaporean shores on Monday.
The BTS Meal has taken McDonald’s outlets around the world by storm. McDonald’s saw a rise in restaurant visits seven days into its launch in the United States. In Indonesia, the overwhelming number of delivery riders swarming into McDonald’s stores with BTS Meal orders saw authorities announcing more than a dozen outlet closures amid COVID-19 concerns.
For the most part, The BTS Meal is a pretty regular Chicken McNuggets set. It has nine or 10 pieces of nuggets (depending on the country where it’s sold), two sauces (sweet chili and cajun), a Coke, and fries—supposedly the group’s favorite McDonald’s order.
But it’s the packaging most fans are after. It differs across countries but is typically printed with the McDonald’s and BTS logos, and accented with the fandom color, purple. Some designs feature the word “Borahae,” a term coined by BTS member V as a sign of appreciation for fans, which translates to “I Purple You.”
Collecting memorabilia of their favorite artists is a huge part of K-pop fan culture, which has seen some diehard fans shelling out serious cash on idol merchandise. Now, BTS fans, also known as ARMY, are having an absolute field day immortalizing “merch” from The BTS Meal.
In fact, these McDonald’s food containers have become some of the most prized possessions for BTS fans.
“Oftentimes we have to purchase merchandise from overseas but this time, it’s BTS coming to us. And I love that they’re doing it through a collaboration that’s easily accessible to many,” Sofia Garcia, a 23-year-old BTS fan in the Philippines, told VICE.
When she finally got her hands on The BTS Meal, Garcia could not bear to simply throw the packaging away. She was inspired by other fans getting really creative but didn’t have the time to make exquisite memorabilia. Instead, she cut the packaging and stuck the pieces beneath her transparent phone case to make a custom phone cover.
Meanwhile, Riz So, an interior designer in the Philippines, saw the BTS limited edition paper bag as an effortless way to decorate her tumbler.
“It’s very easy to do and anyone can have their own merchandise without spending extra,” she said.
While Garcia and So opted for fuss-free DIY crafts to commemorate The BTS Meal, other fans have come up with elaborate ways to immortalize the K-pop and fast-food crossover.
Frince Bryan Rivera, a 31-year-old teacher in the Philippines, framed the packaging that came with the meal.
He said that it’s hard to explain the happiness he derives from the DIY memorabilia.
“It brings me a feeling that somehow I [got] to dine with my favorite K-pop band and shared something memorable with them,” said Rivera.
Jona Mae Natabio, a longtime BTS fan in Canada, incorporated the packaging into her journaling hobby. After eating her BTS Meal, she cleaned the food containers and cut out the parts she wanted to keep in her journal.
“I got the idea of using the McDonald’s packaging as part of my journal because journaling has always been a creative outlet for me,” Natabio said.
Natabio isn’t the only one who’s logging The BTS Meal into their journal in the most fascinating ways. Across social media platforms, fans are sharing their unique BTS journal decor.
People are also turning the fast-food packaging into unlikely fashion items. And, honestly, they’re kind of dynamite.
Jazmin Reyes, a radio DJ in the Philippines, is also known for her interest in upcycling everyday items into quirky fashion statements. This time, she reworked The BTS Meal containers into a trendy saddle bag and bucket hat, along with a tutorial for people to embark on their own DIY projects.
“I thought about how fans can use the packaging and make it part of everyday wear, and decided that a bucket hat is great because it provides sun protection,” she said. “I also needed it to be easy to make and available for everyone to try.”
Kristy Neal, an artist in the U.S., thought that the special sauces were the coolest part of The BTS Meal and decided to turn the sauce lids into earrings.
“I hated the idea of just throwing away what I would consider BTS merch, so I decided to turn them into earrings. I thought they would be a cool addition to my collection and kind of funny,” she said.
Chinx Banquerigo, a BTS fan from the Philippines, made keychains out of sauce lids and the McNuggets box.
When she shared her creations on Twitter, she was greeted with positive responses from both ARMYs and non-ARMYs.
“Fellow ARMYs messaged me, asking how I turned them into keychains. Some of my non-ARMY friends thought it was a really creative way to recycle the material,” she said.
Joana, a 23-year-old BTS fan who prefers to only go by her first name to keep her identity private for her Twitter fan account, stored the lids of the two sauces in clear cases, known as toploaders, decorated with dried flowers.
The avid K-pop photocard collector and journaler explained that she already had the decorative items needed for this customization.
“There’s this trend of photocard collectors designing their toploaders… and I figured, I have the materials, so why not?” she said.
As for the people who think that BTS fans have gone overboard with McDonald’s memorabilia, Joana takes a more zen approach.
“At the end of the day, you only need to focus on the people who [understand] fan culture and why you create something from things that others may not find value in,” she said.
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