Cultural appropriation is the adoption of any ethnic culture’s traditional elements for superficial benefits by a person of another culture or race and fast-food chain McDonald’s is being accused of the same. According to people on Twitter, McDonald’s is guilty of appropriating Jamaican culture by introducing a new fast-food item called “Jerk Chicken Sandwich” as a special addition to its festive menu. People expressed their disapproval of the new addition on Twitter and other social media platforms.
It might seem like a no big deal to most but for people of Jamaican Heritage, it’s a part of their identity.
Jerk chicken originates from Jamaica and is credited to the indigenous people of Taino and Maroons- these groups were descended from enslaved Africans in the Caribbean islands. As McDonald’s is big corporate, white-dominated American Brand, people are taking offence to the fact that the fast-food chain is misappropriating a very culturally important recipe.
Jerk recipes can be traced as far as 1655. The traditionally used spices are native to the island; an allspice mix (a dried berry of a South American plant Pimenta Dioica) and another key ingredient is Scotch Bonnet pepper.
The McDonalds version is said to be made with usual fast food ingredients like processed cheese slices and tomato ketchup. McDonald’s claim their chicken is authentically marinated but Twitterati disagree.
Who approved McDonalds’ jerk chicken sandwich?
— socialite distancing.✊ (@precioussxx) November 21, 2020
@McDonalds I didn't have high hopes anyway, but adding reggae reggae sauce to a chicken and bacon sandwich doesn't make it a jerk chicken sandwich… Numpties.
— Kyle Mortiss (@KMGVvokills) November 18, 2020
jerk chicken from McDonalds 2020 is getting worse https://t.co/edVkJUWYbm
— Liv ♡ (@ojhx_) November 19, 2020
Next will be the Ackee & Saltfish Fillet with rice and peas sauce, it's coming, really if you want Jerk Chicken, McDonald's would not be the first place that spring's to mind.
— George Brexiteer (@George52259993) November 26, 2020
I always knew McDonald’s was racist ♂️ https://t.co/vWkSt7kZmy
— Paul Jones Go Woke Go Broke (@20Paw7) November 25, 2020
The Jerk recipe is very widely identified as Jamaican and Caribbean. There are many traditional small-scale local stores in America run by immigrants or descendants of the culture. But McDonald’s is being accused of capitalising on someone’s else culture with a cheap imitation which is nowhere near the “authentic jerk experience.” Jerk is culturally very important as slaves who were taken away to new environments gradually discovered natural food sources that were available to them and created new customs, recipes, culture while being held captive and away from everything they knew.