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Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: No more McDonald’s for Putin

Mar 8, 2022, 4:00 PM

Caplan russia McDonald's...

FILE: Russians walk into a McDonald's restaurant on March 7, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Back in the 1970s, if you were one of the few people who traveled to Russia you would pack a couple of extra pair of Levi’s. They were unavailable but so coveted in communist countries that, if you just gave a pair of jeans to a Russian you’d have a friend for life. Because they could turn around and sell Levi’s to make a ton of money on the black market.

So of course when they got rid of communism Levi Strauss jumped into the Russian market with both pantlegs. Until yesterday, when they joined countless companies that are closing up shop.

Disney, Spotify, Netflix, Exxon, Apple. The list grows longer by the day, except for pizza places and fast-food joints like McDonald’s.

When McDonald’s met Moscow

In the 1990s when they opened the first Mickey D’s in the middle of Moscow, the lines went around the block. They had 30-thousand customers a day! The place was a tourist attraction and they had a unique menu. Order the Western Gourmet Burger and you’d get a patty made of beef and pork smothered in tomato sauce and topped with marinated cucumbers. Oh, and pickled jalapenos.

Yes, in Russia they’re lovin’ it. Or at least they were.

Because now McDonald’s is temporarily closing more than 700 restaurants in Russia (the country that provides 3% Mickey D’s worldwide profits.)

In the meantime, still doing business in Russia are Pepsi, and Pizza Hut, which may have aired the most bizarre commercial ever. It features the country’s last communist leader and the customers are arguing politics. But they finally agree that Mikhail Gorbachoff did one thing right — he brought Pizza Hut to Russia.

And then they salute him as he sits off in the corner, smiling as he eats his pizza.

So, the Hut remains open in Russia. It’s donating profits to humanitarian causes.

So that Vladimir Putin can go out for pizza tonight.

Other Jeff Caplan Minutes of News:

Listen to Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News every weekday from 3 to 7 p.m. for more of his “My Minute of News.” And check out the podcast below.

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Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: No more McDonald’s for Putin