Tasting the McChoco Potato Made Me Realise the World Is Doomed
In Japan, McDonalds serves chips with chocolate sauce, but what actually is it? It's a question I fear may never be answered.
Nearly 6000 miles away from the UK sits a banana-shaped island in three pieces. Once known for its hermit-like state, rank disapproval of outsiders and strong imperialist mentality, Japan is now more famed for its penchant for robotics and cartoons. It has perpetrated a great many crimes, and bore (or is bearing) the brunt of numerous natural disasters, yet shows a remarkable resilience and talent for adaptation. I visited this place recently, this vessel of strangeness, and I experienced something odd that made me think about my place in this world. It made me wonder if my senses really were my only connection to reality, that perhaps there was something hiding behind my eyes that I couldn't see or feel, but existing nonetheless. It was – dare I even speak its name? I must.
It was the McChoco Potato.
Though Japan has a ferocious sense of its own personality, it has in the past 60 years or so been party to a post-war westernisation. That unfortunately includes ribald American GI types romping their way through delicate pastures. By far the worst aspect of visiting Glorious Nippon is the presence of Americans and other assorted whites. They meander like fleshy beige lampposts through crowds of indifferent natives, bewildered and confused, bellowing orders at their children. I looked at my fellow palefaces with an expression of unending disdain for the entirety of my stay. I asked some of my friends who lived there if they had the same thing, and they said yes, and that it never leaves you.
And it's this omnipresent western influence that gives us the same chain restaurants that we try and escape from when going on an adventure like this. However, in true Japanese style, things are the same, but different. Funny fast food items in foreign lands have long been the saviour of under-the-kosh content-producers the world over. A slow news day can be salvaged when Burger King Japan releases its all-black Whopper. The McChoco Potato is no different. It is a bed of fries that you liberally squeeze white and milk chocolate on to. It was here in front of me now, and I would be a fool not to try it.
After quietly mewling an order in broken Japanese, I took it back to the flat I was staying in nearby. I was half drunk and had just returned from having an actually very nice meal that wasn't in a failing burger chain. The chocolate came in two soft compartments at the bottom of a hard plastic lid, which had undulating ridges on it. I snapped it and squeezed. The chocolate left it like a particularly upsetting lanced cyst, spluttering over the fries, as if it were the exhaust on an old car.
I ate one. The saltiness and the chocolate worked in conjuncture, but only just. It wasn't totally unpleasant, but much like most chain restaurant items consumed in other countries under the pretence of them being somehow different, it was disappointing.
The McChoco Potato. I stared at it for a while and went to bed. I laid there thinking about what it meant, why it existed, who it was even for. It made me sad that this quirk was the result of two cultures clashing, and just like way back in 1945, it produced unfortunate results. I shut my eyes and rested my head, but could still feel it sat there, congealing in the corner. I can still feel it now.
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