Reykjavik: Taco Hell

Posted on August 24, 2006


taco bell.jpg by jared bibler 

My Einarsenesque coworker Árni today asked me how I felt about Taco Bell coming to Iceland. I hadn’t heard this news, but apparently the KFC in Hafnarfjörður is gonna be split into one of the standard-issue joint-KFC-Taco-Bell joints so commonplace in America.

To a person, every Icelander around the lunch table expressed broad agreement and even some small excitement about this lucky break. This launched me into a Kingesque ("it’s not Mexican!") tirade against the invasion of crappy American fast food places and their eager acceptance by Icelanders. Here are some sample places Icelanders think are spennandi and glæsibær (exciting and stylish):

  • Subway: the "sophisticated" choice for late-night weekend grub downtown
  • T.G.I. Friday’s: fancy eating in the Smáralind mall
  • McDonald’s: drive-in always backed up at Skeifan
  • KFC: frequent lunch trips by my coworkers
  • Ruby Tuesday: Slick TV ads dubbed into Icelandic
  • Domino’s: store near my house jammed day and night
  • Burger King: flame broiled!

Granted, the quality of food at the Icelandic establishments is much superior to their Stateside counterparts, probably because the service jobs pay (a lot) better, are more desirable, and a Whopper meal costs $14 at today’s rates. But still. There are plenty of local joints serving up pizza, sandwiches, and hamburgers. From my perspective, there’s no reason to "run for the Border" or "sit on the Colonel’s lap" here in the Land.

A few Icelanders have even complained to me that, when they went to America and tried food at one of these fine eateries, they were surprised by the rude service and fecal quality of the offerings. Well, go figure. But even with those who have experienced the greasy horror of mainland bandarískur fast food, I somehow just can’t seem to convey the low esteem in which I and my American friends hold these places.

Photo Credit: Hans Last