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Hot Like Summer: The BTS Meal

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The BTS Meal — the South Korean group’s first celebrity-partnered meal in collaboration with McDonald’s — dropped in the U.S. on May 26.  This signature meal is the first of McDonald’s “signature orders” to debut globally, with previous celebrity meals like the Travis Scott Meal and the J Balvin Meal having only been released domestically. 

The BTS Meal consists of a 10 piece chicken McNuggets, medium sized fries and medium Coca-Cola. Unlike the previous celebrity meals, the BTS Meal introduced two new menu items to the U.S.: the Cajun and Sweet Chili sauces. However, for BTS fanbase’s ARMY, the most anticipated part of the collaboration wasn’t necessarily the contents of the meal but the bag it came in. Along with the limited released sauces, the meal was rumored to be packaged in BTS branded bags, cups and containers. Unfortunately, to the disappointment of fans, some U.S. stores did not include the band’s classic purple branding. 

I for one did not mind the lack of the purple packaging, seeing as even the members themselves did not receive it in the advertisement for the meal. 

While the lack of purple packaging and photocards left many U.S. ARMYs underwhelmed, the meal was certainly a hit. The sauces had a special uniqueness to them that made them memorable to fans and regular consumers alike. Even as fans were upset at not receiving the special purple packaging that had been promoted, they were all in agreement that the sauces saved the experience. While I personally preferred the Sweet Chili sauce, Cajun seemed to be a general favorite among the public given its spicy flavor kick. 

At the same time that fans were excited, McDonald’s employees were feeling the pressure. College students Amy Diaz and Pilar Cortez were concerned about the volume of fans they would receive. Diaz, being an ARMY herself, knew that the fanbase was massive and Cortez had previous experience with other signature meals — they knew that the release day was going to be hectic and the fans would either make or break the situation.

Previous “signature meal” release days had fans in a frenzy that sometimes resulted in disputes amongst customers and workers. When the Travis Scott Meal released, many establishments saw fans stealing advertisement signs, screaming at employees for the meal and blasting music from their cars to order. 

So far, Diaz and Cortez have not had negative experiences with customers. 

“A lot of the people who came up to me to order were actually quite shy about it,” Diaz said about customer experiences. “The only concerning one was when someone had their mom film me handing the meal to them.”

Similarly, Cortez mentioned that while at times it seemed that the orders were too much to handle, all fans were cordial. It became clear as the day went on that the main concern was running out of supplies, rather than the fans themselves — something the two were grateful for. Often people forget that these employees are human themselves and should be treated with respect. 

This calm attitude cannot be applied nationwide, with some fans taking promotional flyers off of the windows of McDonald’s restaurants to others trying to resell the meal bag on sites, such as eBay. Regardless, just as everything BTS does, the BTS Meal has caused a stir in the public. 

Valeria Valencia is an Opinion Intern for the spring 2021 quarter. She can be reached at vivalenc@uci.edu