Coming to America Questions That Need Answers: Was McDowell's Better than McDonald's? An Examination

Illustration for article titled Coming to America Questions That Need Answers: Was McDowell's Better than McDonald's? An Examination
Screenshot: Coming to America (Paramount)

This week at VSB, in dedication to and preparation for Friday’s release of Coming 2 America, we’ll be digging deep-ish and having fun with the original, 1988's Coming to America.


I don’t remember the first time I saw Coming to America. Considering that it was released when I was 9 years old and very early scenes have exposed breasts and the movie isn’t short on profanity, I’d like to think that I did not see it in 1988. Yet, I feel like it’s a movie that’s been around for the entirety of my life. Like many folks, I can recite entire scenes, if you’re wearing clothing made of materials ranging from velour to sherpa I am most certainly asking if it’s velvet and I often let my soul glow and let it shine through. It is easily my favorite movie, so much so that when Nike released a “Coming to America” collection in honor of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s love for the movie, I bought three pairs of the shoes: The Soul Glo, the “Employee of the Month,” and the Nike Blazer “Coming to America” which, much like the “Employee of the Month,” is fashioned after Prince Akeem’s McDowell’s uniform, even though the Nike Blazer might be the least comfortable shoe of all time it looks awesome.

What is McDowell’s you ask? Well “you” probably didn’t because if “you” are reading this then there’s a better than 90 percent chance that you know exactly what McDowell’s is. But for those who are unaware, McDowell’s is the restaurant in Queens where Akeem and Semi gained employment—owned by Cleo McDowell, father of Lisa McDowell, the object of Akeem’s affection and the woman he traveled from Zamunda to Queens, New York, to find. Well, McDowell’s and McDonald’s have...misunderstanding of sorts; I imagine it’s similar to Jada and August’s....entanglement. It is impossible to not notice the similarities between McDonald’s and McDowell’s, but as we all know, it’s the little things that count that really make one better than the other. So that’s what we’re going to do here today. We’re going to answer the age-old question: Which fast food restaurant is better? McDonald’s or McDowell’s. I couldn’t get anybody from McDonald’s on the line so I will use the differences that Cleo McDowell, found, owner, client and Player-President of McDowell’s brought to the table to do our comparison.

1. Who has the better name? McDonald’s vs. McDowell’s

You might ask yourself, what’s in a name? Well, everything. It might be hard to ascertain a product, service or business based on name alone but it’s Tuesday, we’re still in a panorama and we don’t have anything else to do so let’s give it a whirl.

I called vaunted and formidable “name expert,” Donquestejuan Featherington, OPP to ask him what he thought about the differences in the names. He told me, definitively, that the names were different. And he’s right. So I asked him what we could discern from the names alone. He said that the differentiating letters for McDonald’s are “nad” and for McDowell’s they’re “wel” and that “nad” is close to “nads” which means that McDonald’s is balls compared to McDowell’s “wel” which translates to “well” in Ancient Incan, therefore McDowell’s is a better name and thus a better restaurant.

2. Whose brand logo is better? The Golden Arches (McDonald’s) vs. The Gold Arcs (McDowell’s)

I feel like they’re both solid. For starters, it’s a stylized “M” and it’s really hard to go wrong with “M.” Like, have you ever met anybody with a problem with “M”? Probably not. It’s a good letter is all I’m saying. Now, there ain’t nothing like seeing that big ass golden arch on a highway, especially when hungry and you have kids in the car. Now, I think this is mostly because of the McNuggets. We don’t know if McDowell’s has McDuckets (?) or if folks are stopping by to buy 20 for $2.99 like I did damn near three times a week in the summer of 1996. Arcs are cool, but Arches has an “e” and the “e” makes it an “ES” at the end, and Snoop Dogg’s group Tha Eastsidaz had an amazing song with “G’d Up.” 

I think McDonald’s wins here.

3. Whose signature sandwich is better? The Big Mac (McDonald’s) vs The Big Mick (McDowell’s)

Now, this is where the devil is in the details. They both have two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese pickles and onions. The difference is that McDonald’s (at the time at least) used a sesame seed bun and McDowell’s buns had no seeds. I think that’s a knockout blow. Sesame seeds get stuck all up in your teeth. Hell, if you don’t eat the sandwich right, the seeds fall off effectively making you eat a Big Mick if you’re not careful, which means that McDowell’s wins even when they’re not trying. If you can make your opponent use your method unintentionally, that is some Zen, Art of War shit right there.


The winner is McDowell’s. It’s a damn shame what happened to that dog and that McDowell’s never existed because if they did they’d have given McDonald’s a run for their money. Plus, Samuel Jackson robbed them; that makes them a historical landmark.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



If the Soul-Glo song isn’t in this movie I’m gonna go smooth the F off: