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August 20, 2010 • News

In The Soviet Era People Lined Up For Bread, But In 1990 … ?

The stark image above shows a pre-revolution era bread line in Russia in the 1915-1916 time frame, thought to be during the German occupation of Russia in World War I.

Next we see that after the revolution and the promise of sharing and plenty … we still get bread lines and poverty and an authoritarian rule over those in need:

Fast-forward to the time just after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and guess what? Yep, more bread lines!

Yet in Moscow in 1990, we see a different sort of line. According to the post at Neatorama:

What are these people in Moscow lined up for? Jobs? Cash? No, about 30,000 people lined up for the opportunity to eat at the first McDonalds to open in the city, in 1990.

This video is stunning – while I remember well the images of food lines throughout the Soviet era ( a term that means nothing to my kids), having this sort of line-up for McDonalds of all places is just staggering! But it is a great clip!

The McDonald’s press release details the opening in Moscow this way:

On January 31, 1990, a ribbon-cutting ceremony kicked off the grand opening of the first restaurant, located in Moscow’s Pushkin Square. It was the world’s largest McDonald’s, with 28 cash registers and enough seating for 700 customers, and people lined up down the block to get their first taste of the famous “Big Mak.” Because Russian people weren’t accustomed to eating finger food, however, there was a bit of confusion; after pondering his Big Mak for some time, one man reportedly ate it with a spoon, while others took their sandwiches apart and ate them layer by layer!

Despite the cultural hurdles, McDonald’s served 30,000 customers on that first day of business, with half of all sales going to the Soviet Children’s Fund, a national organization that helps children. Since then, McDonald’s has grown to more than 240 restaurants in more than 50 Russian cities. We deliver quality food at a great value to a million customers every day in Russia – our fastest-growing market in Europe – with a total of more than 2 billion satisfied customers since we first opened.

Here is an aerial image of the scene:

This year marks the 20th “Anniversary of ‘Hamburger Diplomacy'” … something to think about as you get annoyed at the line 4 people deep at lunch today or the person with 8 items in the 7-items or less line at the grocery store!
Source: Neatorama

12 Responses to " In The Soviet Era People Lined Up For Bread, But In 1990 … ? "

  1. technovangelist says:

    When I waited in that line in 1992, it was around the block, but moved sooo quickly. Maybe 15 minute wait. I have waited longer behind 5 people in some McDonalds in the US.

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  10. Joining us is Yves Smith to Explain - Tl81.net says:

    […] Image: Homework Evidence on Threadless, Soviet Breadline from Gear Diary […]

  11. […] what is fascinating about the Russian queue is its different incarnations across history.  The trope of the bread line had the same meaning, but it occurred in varying contexts of […]

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