Russia has become a magnet for U.S. fast-food chains. The most iconic American fast food chain, McDonald’s, has more than 650 stores in Russia. As seen in the choropleth map to the right, Russia is among the top ten largest marketplaces of McDonald’s globally. In general, many American restaurant chains expanded fast in European Russia and some moved farther inland into less populous areas in Asiatic Russia. KFC, for instance, has taken hold in areas as far as in Siberia and the Far East.
U.S. fast food chains have given many Russians a taste of globalization. The process, by which U.S. chain restaurants and Russian consumers came into contact, was temporally and geospatially uneven. The When and Where pages of this project offer some glimpses into the three U.S. brands’ temporal expansion and geographic distribution across Russia. Muscovites welcomed Russia’s first McDonald’s with a long queue outside of the restaurant 30 years ago. In Moscow 30 years later, U.S. fast food chains are already part of local residents’ everyday food scene, hardly anything exciting or novel. Yet in places with no U.S. fast food footprint, announcements of authentic American fast food’s arrival still evoke some excitement among ordinary eaters.