Oh la vache! Recently the French had to swallow the news that cheeseburgers are now more popular than their own iconic jambon-beurre sandwich.
In its annual survey of the French food landscape, Parisian restaurant consultants Gira Conseil discovered that burger sales increased by a whopping (or a Whopper-ing) nine percent last year, overtaking sales of the ham-and-butter baguette for the first time. In 2017, 1.46 billion burgers were sold within the country, compared to 1.22 billion jambon-beurre sandwiches.
"We've been talking about a burger frenzy for three years. This year, we don't know how to describe the phenomenon," Bernard Boutboul, the director of Gira Conseil, told AFP. "It's just crazy."
According to The Guardian, around 85% of France's 145,000 restaurants — not counting the fast food joints — have at least one burger on their menu. And when it comes to fast food, McDonald's is the undisputed king: France is its second most profitable market behind the United States, with more than 1,400 restaurants in the country. (And, despite what Samuel L. Jackson said in Pulp Fiction, a quarter-pounder with cheese is called Le Royal Cheese, not a Royale with Cheese).
The French are denying the news. "It's not true," one baguette-eater told The Guardian. "It's what you call fake news, non?" (News outlets had a similar reaction to the news that Canada had beaten France at cheesemaking. "It's a scandal, a fraud," French magazine VSD wrote. "The jury must have been bought."
As burger-related outrage started to build in the country, even Boutboul backpedaled a little bit. He told the news outlet that maybe it wasn't really possible to compare burgers and baguettes. "Let me explain," he said. "Baguettes are taken away and eaten with fingers, burgers are mostly eaten sitting down with a knife and fork. It's not comparing like with like."
Comparable or not, almost a billion-and-a-half burgers is a heck of a lot of burgers. Somebody's eating those, Bernard.