Do you know what they call a quarter-pounder with cheese in South Carolina? Well, they call it a “Stack.”
It’s glimpses into the cultural idiosyncrasies of the Palmetto State like this that make the new ad campaign from McDonald’s UK so intriguing. Promoting the fast-food juggernaut’s new Great Tastes of America lineup, which features the South Carolina Stack, the commercial in question opens in a bleak, gray cellphone store (They call them mobiles across the pond). An expressionless young salesman informs two customers, “Right, I’ll just get your copy of the contract” before disappearing off screen.
A shock of red hair and a pale complexion matching his off-white shirt, the salesman lingers in the back room, taking a brief moment to himself as he counts the hours in his 9-to-5 prison.
The two customers — a couple on the verge of entering into a cellphone contract — look around the room, their glances refusing to rest on any one spot. They seem nervous, two young lovers about to enter into a “family plan,” but are they ready to be a family? Will this data plan outlast their love?
The man nervously blurts out McDonald’s as a lunch suggestion, hoping that a familiar meal will provide some stability to the life he now shares. But his partner, her eyes narrowing with anticipation, announces that she will be having a South Carolina Stack. Then we are shown what it really means to be in South Carolina.
“Two beef burgers,” says the woman as a wide-brimmed cowboy hat appears on her head. Her partner is curious about this new side of the woman he thought he knew. Where did this passion for the American South originate? Has it been boiling below the surface all this time? Cautious but fascinated, he continues to inquire about this Stack and the magical place called South Carolina.
“Beechwood-smoked bacon,” the woman says, a purple Western-style shirt replacing her cardigan. “Smoky cheese and a sweet and tangy South Carolina sauce.”
At final glance, the woman he once knew is gone. In her place stands a new woman. Her eyes lined with bright blue, the cowboy hat now resting atop a mountain of blond curls — she belongs to South Carolina now. But as she has transformed, so too has her partner. The untamed romance and majesty of South Carolina has breathed new life into their relationship and their outward appearances have become that of a typical Southern couple, complete with a turgid lasso that swings nonchalantly overhead.
But then, in a shocking twist, the salesman returns. Only now, he is dressed as one of our celebrated American football stars. Contract in hand, he assures the couple that the South Carolina Stack is “really good.” Something we here in the Lowcountry have known for years. But perhaps never before have we seen such a pure crystallization of what it means to be from South Carolina. The cowboy hats, the big hair, American-style football, we’re loving it. And now apparently so is the rest of the world.