McDonald's rolls out McBaguette in France

(CBS News) In France, where food is a passion, some people believe fast food is an assault from America.

The French managers of McDonald's have determined the good old American hamburger isn't good enough. They've launched the McBaguette - McDonald's take on one of the basic French food groups: the baguette sandwich, two hamburger patties, some lettuce and some grainy French mustard in a roll that looks a little like classic French bread. It may not be the beheading of Louis XVI, but it's positively revolutionary.

And the French have lined up in their ones and twos to try it.

One person who sampled the sandwich said, "It's quite good, but it's dry, it's too dry."

Traditional baguette bakers fear McDonald's is making another assault on a signature French product. Could this be another nail in the French culinary coffin?

Alex Dreyer, an American chef who teaches bread and pastry making at a Parisian cooking school, said for him, comparing the McBaguette to the real thing is - to borrow and mangle a phrase - the best of bread and the worst of bread.

Dreyer said after taking a bite, "Way too chewy. It's too soft. A regular baguette you buy in France would be crispy for the next 24 hours."

But the French have a dirty little secret: They love McDonald's or "McDo," as they call it. The chain does more business in France than it does in any country outside the United States - more than $5.5 billion worth last year.

And they've done it by "Frenchifying" the product. You can find croissants and pain chocolat for sale in the local McCafes.

The McBaguette may have traditionalists crying in their cafe au lait. But Ronald McDonald may be laughing all the way to the bank.

  • Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips returned to the CBS News London bureau as a correspondent in 1993. He has covered many major stories since then, including the war in the Balkans, the death of Princess Diana and the weapons inspection conflicts in Iraq.

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