United Kingdom

McDonald's is accused of 'cultural appropriation at its finest' over its new Jerk Chicken Sandwich

Fast food giant McDonald's has been accused of 'cultural appropriation at its finest' over one of its new Christmas menu items.

The chain announced a new Jerk Chicken Sandwich for its festive menu, which also features a double Big Mac and a Celebrations McFlurry.

But it is the Jerk Chicken Sandwich which has caused the biggest stir - and not all for the right reasons.

While some have taken to social media to praise the burger, others have hit out at McDonald's accusing them of 'cultural appropriation'.

Cultural appropriation is the adoption of an element or elements of one culture or identity by members of another culture or identity.

It is particularly controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from disadvantaged minority cultures.

Jerk chicken originates from Jamaica and is believed by historians to come from indigenous Taino people and Maroons - descendants of Africans who were enslaved in the Caribbean islands.

One person tweeted: 'The more I think about it the more I'm bothered by the McDonald's 'jerk chicken' attempt. 

The chain announced a new Jerk Chicken Sandwich for its festive menu, which also features a double Big Mac and a Celebrations McFlurry

What is jerk? 

Jerk is a seasoning for meat and fish which originated from Jamaica.  

Jerk refers to a style of cooking in which the main ingredient— most often chicken but which can be other meats and fish - is coated in spices and slow-cooked over a fire or grill. 

The food has its origins with the Taino - the indigenous people of the Caribbean - who developed the jerk method and later taught it to African people who had been enslaved and forced over to the Caribbean. They in turn adapted it in creating jerk chicken.

The first jerk recipes can be dated back to the year 1655.

It comes in two forms, a dry seasoning that is rubbed onto meat or fish, or a wet marinade used in the same way.

The two key ingredients are allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers. Other ingredients can include: ginger, salt, brown sugar, garlic, thyme, cloves, scallions, nutmeg and cinnamon.

'It shows me one of two things: 1) They don't care to respect the culture or 2) They have zero diversity on their team.'

Another said: 'Jerk Chicken Sandwich, yet there is not one McDonalds in Jamaica.'

One person tweeted: 'Who approved McDonald's Jerk Chicken Sandwich?'

Another added: 'Disrespect to the fullest. McDonald's slapped a dead sauce on top of a crispy chicken and called it Jerk Chicken Sandwich, unreal.'

The new sandwich, costing £4.39, features two crispy Chicken Selects topped with a spicy jerk sauce, bacon, pepper jack cheese, onion and lettuce in a sourdough bun. 

The burger's jerk sauce contains tomato paste, Habanero chilli puree, caramelised sugar syrup, spices, garlic, ginger and basil, according to the McDonald's website.

The ingredients in a real jerk marinade are allspice - a dried unripe berry of the South American native plant Pimenta dioica - and Scotch bonnet peppers.

One Twitter user posted: 'Tried the new McDonald's 'jerk chicken' burger yesterday, and as a man of Caribbean descent, I can categorically confirm that 2 Chicken Selects with some of Levi roots reggae reggae sauce is in fact not jerk chicken at all.' 

One woman on Facebook complained: 'How is this jerk? Cultural appropriation yet again.'

But while the burger took criticism over claims of cultural appropriation, others praised the burger and its taste.

The ingredients in a real jerk marinade are allspice - a dried unripe berry of the South American native plant Pimenta dioica - and Scotch bonnet peppers

One Twitter user said: 'Oh my days that jerk chicken sandwich off Xmas menu at Mcdees is straight 15/10.'

Another added: 'That jerk chicken sandwich from maccies with the cheese dippers is another level.'

A spokesperson for McDonald's told MailOnline: 'Our Jerk Chicken Sandwich uses jerk seasoning in its spicy sauce. In the product description, we make it clear that the sauce is the jerk component of the sandwich.' 

The latest row over cultural appropriation in food comes after celebrity chef Jamie Oliver faced  accusations of 'cultural appropriation' over his 'punchy jerk rice'.

The row was sparked by London MP Dawn Butler, who is of Jamaican descent, who tweeted him saying 'your jerk rice is not ok' - jerk is a traditional Jamaican recipe.

The television star's microwave bag rice, which was selling for £2.35, was made with aubergine, chilli and beans.

Speaking about the row, the chef later told Hello magazine: 'I've never written an authentic recipe in my life', adding 'authenticity' is a word that should be used 'very carefully as most of the things we love... are not what we think they are'. 

He also told Sky News at the time: 'I've worked with flavours and spices from all over the world my whole career, learning and drawing inspiration from different countries and cultures to give a fresh twist to the food we eat every day.

'When I named the rice my intention was only to show where my inspiration came from.'

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