What? Another country has run out of fries? A Quarter Pounder meal is served with arepas or corn cakes at a local McDonald's, in Caracas, Venezuela (AP photos)
What? Another country has run out of fries?
Lexile

Forget the French fries. How about a side of yuca with that Big Mac?

Venezuela's more than 100 McDonald's franchises have run out of potatoes. Now they are serving alternatives. Like deep-fried arepa flatbreads or yuca. That's a starchy staple of traditional South American cooking.

McDonald's is blaming a contract dispute with American West Coast dock workers for halting the export of frozen fries to Venezuela. The dispute also caused several days of French fry rationing in Japan last month. But Sonia Ruseler, a spokeswoman for the company that runs McDonald's restaurants in Latin America, declined to say why Venezuela's neighbors are not suffering from similar scarcity.

Many Venezuelans assume the embattled socialist government is to blame. They are accustomed to shortages of their favorite foods. And they are equally in the habit of grumbling about the government as they walk away empty-handed.

"It's because of the situation here. It's a total debacle," said Maria Guerreiro. She left a McDonald's in Caracas with her family when she found out they were serving only fries made of yuca. The food also is also known as cassava. Her daughter won't eat the super-starchy root, she said. They'd come for the sole purpose of treating the two-year-old to a Happy Meal. Caracas is the capital of Venezuela.

McDonald's has likely been grappling with shortages in Venezuela for a while. That's according to Alixa Sharkey. She is a researcher with the market research company Euromonitor International.

"This situation probably has little to do with the U.S. port dispute and is mostly the result of Venezuela's very difficult economic situation," she said.

While McDonald's may be the ultimate symbol of U.S. capitalism, the socialist government seems acutely aware that Venezuelans relish their Happy Meals. A state-sponsored news website posted a story assuring that the situation "has nothing at all to do" with government policy.

At the Caracas McDonald's, a man wearing an "employee of the month" cap braved the dinner rush recently. He explained to patrons that instead of French fries, the store was offering yuca fries, mini-arepas, or salads.

Some customers sampled their pale yuca fries tentatively as they picked up their orders. No one chose the salad.

Critical thinking challenge: Fries are made from potatoes, which grow on farms. So why are dock workers who load ships causing problems for French fry-loving Venezuelans?

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COMMENTS (293)
  • JuvenileJellyfish
    1/21/2015 - 01:17 p.m.

    No fries!? What's a meal without fries!? I mean, I've never had deep-fried arepa flatbreads or yuca, but it can't possible be better than french fries.

  • Bailey1129
    1/21/2015 - 01:36 p.m.

    I think that it is kinda weird that there are no potatoes and i wonder what is happens to them. I know that if i was to come throw a McDonald's and they said that i couldn't have french fries i would be kinda upset and that really the only think that i really like.

  • Brenna-Arm
    1/21/2015 - 02:17 p.m.

    Wow! I can't believe Venezuelan McDonald's have run out of french fries! Even though french fries are grown on farms, boats may have to ship them overseas. That's why Venezuela blames dock workers who load ships.

  • 05Victoria-May
    1/21/2015 - 02:29 p.m.

    I personally think that the frys are'nt a big miss comparing to another country that ran out of butter. Plus frys are not healthy for humans to eat,just saying frys are,nt a huge miss compared to a miss of a more useful product, butter.

  • 10Kaleb-May
    1/21/2015 - 02:34 p.m.

    how can a place run out of fries thats hard cause there just payatos cut all you got to do is go get some and cut then cut them

  • lucasro-Mat
    1/21/2015 - 02:41 p.m.

    i don't think it is Venezuela's fault that they don't have potato's. it is probably the people shipping potato's but they can also grow their potatoes

  • lucasro-Mat
    1/21/2015 - 02:44 p.m.

    the dock workers are being lazy to lad ships. They cant grow potatoes because it isn't growing season so they have to wait, its is a long process.

  • 18Beau-May
    1/21/2015 - 02:45 p.m.

    I like Mc.Donalds fries I wouldnt have any other side.Iwould want to taste yuca fries to see if theyre good .the fries are salty and thats good

  • lucasro-Mat
    1/21/2015 - 02:45 p.m.

    the dock workers are being lazy to lad ships. They cant grow potatoes because it isn't growing season so they have to wait, its is a long process.

  • amya-Rog
    1/21/2015 - 03:31 p.m.

    I think this is an intresting article, because it tells you why they are putting yuca on the side instead of french fries. But on the other hand I think that it is

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