Pulp Fiction stands out as a mob movie that blended action, comedy, and a healthy dose of pop culture trivia that could stand alone as a restaurant theme. One juicy morsel concerned the fine fast-food folks at McDonald's that's been treating civilians and celebrities for decades. That's when hitman Vincent Vega related to his cohort Jules Winnfield that a Quarter-Pounder with Cheese was called a "Royale with Cheese" in France due to the metric system.
It was a mental tidbit so appetizing to Jules that he later repeated the anecdote to his targets while munching on a Big Kahuna burger—before disposing of them with his trusty sidearm.
It hasn't been the same ever since for fast food consumers who think about those movie scenes every time they dig into a McDonald's Quarter-Pounder, or whatever it's called elsewhere in the world. France, as it turns out, isn't the only country that's had to alter the beefy moniker.
Metric System Messes Up The Moniker
First of all, Vincent wasn't entirely on the mark in what the French call the Quarter-Pounder, the four-ounce burger patty dish introduced by McDonald's in 1971. In France, it's referred to as a McRoyale and you don't need to specify avec fromage (with cheese) since the ingredient is already added. That's par for the course among other French-speaking nations on the continent.
Randomly going through several McDonald's multilingual websites worldwide yielded several other global differences when it comes to the Quarter-Pounder. Germany, Austria, and other German-speaking nations call it the Hamburger Royal. Further east, the item is called the Royal Cheeseburger in Ukraine, while Russian McDonald's notorious for serving its own panini and shrimp dubs it the Grand Cheeseburger.
Like the U.S., the U.K. doesn't use the metric system. But the British McDonald's establishments that have their own unique menu stick with the McRoyal moniker to avoid confusion with the Quarterpounder, a burger served by fast-food rival British Wimpy.
Worldwide, It's The Same In English, Sort Of
With all those alterations, you'll still find several nations devoted to keeping the Quarter-Pounder on the menu board, despite serving menu items unfamiliar to U.S. consumers. That includes Canada and its predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec which translates the name to Quart de liver. Portuguese Brazil refers to it as Quarterão com Queijo, while Spain and several Latin American countries call it Cuarto de Libra con Queso.
Several non-French and German nations in Europe like Finland get around the metric issue by giving the burger the designation QP. although the Quarter-Pounder was removed from Japanese menus in 2017, the outlets tried to be as faithful to the burger name as possible, even using a string of phonetic characters to pronounce the product.
In the Middle East—Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in particular—McDonald's outlets offer both the Quarter-Pounder and McRoyal.
Ingredients Are Different Elsewhere
The U.S. original version contains a sesame seed bun, beef patty, chopped onion, two pickles, mustard, ketchup, and some seasoning. For those who want cheese, McDonald's obligingly adds a slice of processed cheddar.
But a few other areas have taken liberties with the contents. Besides labeling the Quarter-Pounder as Hamburger Royal, Germany and a few other European nations have also added lettuce and tomato. South Africa's McRoyal includes lettuce and mayonnaise, while cheese isn't an option in Israel since that dairy product isn't widely available.
Other changes are more subtle. Australia's beef patties are slightly different in that they pack more protein than their American equivalents. And oddly enough in New York, mustard is not added to Quarter-Pounders.
Is It Really A Quarter-Pounder, Though?
Despite how the burger is recognized internationally, several doubts have been raised in the U.S. over whether the Quarter-Pounder was legit. The original beef patty weighed in at four ounces but would shrink to 2.8 ounces once it was cooked.
But an attempt to remedy the issue in 2015 saw McDonald's increase the size of the patties to 4.5 ounces to ensure the burger weighs a bit more by the time the beef hits the bun. Simple math, however, dictates that the cooked patty would tip the culinary scales at 3.15 ounces, still short of the quarter-pounder's suggested weight. Considering how strict McDonald's is to its own front-line staff, that they would cut themselves some slack is—to say the least—disappointing.