More than any chain, McDonald’s is what you probably think of when you think of the word “behemoth.” It’s simply massive, and is most likely the only company that just about everybody on earth has heard of. But where did it come from? What’s its deal, really? The company has a wild history and has struggled throughout its existence to remain on top and relevant, and there are plenty of facts about this fast food giant that you most likely don’t know.
Let’s start at the beginning. Back in 1940, brothers Mac and Dick McDonald took over their father’s 3-year-old Monrovia, Calif. restaurant, which had a 25-item menu, and moved the entire building 40 miles east to San Bernardino. Eight years later, realizing that burgers were the top seller, they streamlined the menu and the entire process: the menu was whittled down to hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries, shakes, soft drinks, and apple pie, everything was self-service, and the kitchen was run like an assembly line, revolutionary for the time.
Four years later, they decided that a new building was necessary to keep the profits rolling in. With their eye on maximum efficiency and profit potential, the brothers hired a well-known architect and mapped out every inch of what the new restaurant should look like: Red and white ceramic tile, stainless steel, glass, pulsing neon, and the icing on the cake, two massive arches trimmed in yellow neon that they referred to simply as “the golden arches.” They began selling franchise rights while still in the design phase. (It’s worth noting here that while the McDonald brothers have gone down in history as rather simple-minded restaurant owners, they were in fact way ahead of their time, and laid the blueprints for the chain we know today.)
In 1954, milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc entered the picture. He noticed that the McDonalds had purchased eight of his mixers for their restaurant, and was blown away by what he saw when he paid them a visit. He convinced the brothers to sell the company to him and immediately undertook a national expansion plan. There were 34 restaurants in 1959, and by the following year, there were 102.
Kroc stayed on as CEO until 1973, and spearheaded one of the fastest and most legendary expansions in restaurant history, going down as quite possibly the most influential man in the history of fast food. Since then, McDonald’s has firmly cemented its place as the world’s leading fast food chain (even though Subway actually has more locations), and there are still plenty of facts and figures about the chain that aren’t common knowledge. Read on to learn 12 of them.
The original McDonald’s featured a hickory pit and served barbecued beef, ham, and pork, along with chili, tamales, and even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
After market research showed that consumers were looking for a quick breakfast, they added the Egg McMuffin to the permanent countrywide menu in 1972, making it the first nationally available fast-food breakfast sandwich. By 1987, one-quarter of all breakfasts eaten out-of-home in the U.S. came from McDonald’s.
That’s enough to buy about 16 million Big Macs.
Back in the ‘70s, Queen Elizabeth decided to diversify her royal portfolio and get into the restaurant franchise game, and purchased a McDonald’s in Michigan, which she occasionally visits. (Just kidding, but wouldn’t that be great? The Crown Estate owns a shopping center — which contains a McDonald’s — near Windsor Castle.)
Now that’s what we call brand awareness.
That’s about twice the population of California!
About 20 percent of all purchases at McDonald’s are Happy Meals, which includes a toy. With 68 million meals sold on a daily basis, if you do the math… that’s a lot of toys.
The Big Breakfast with hotcakes and a large biscuit, which contains 1,150 calories, 93 grams of fat, 575 milligrams of cholesterol, 20 grams of saturated fat, and 2,260 milligrams of sodium, is one of the unhealthiest fast food items in America.
Since former grillman Fred Turner opened the first Hamburger University in the basement of a McDonald’s in Elk Grove, Ill. in 1961 (with a class of 15 students), more than 275,000 managers, middle-managers, suppliers, and owner/operators have graduated from the school, which now has locations worldwide. They learn operations procedures and leadership techniques, taught by 22 regional training teams based out of locations in Oak Brook, Ill., Sydney, Munich, London, Tokyo, Brazil, and Beijing.
Dubbed “the world’s largest entertainment McDonald’s,” this 18,716-square-foot McDonald’s, constructed in Orlando a couple years ago near the site of the previous largest McDonald’s, is a sight to behold. It stands 48 feet tall; has a massive 22-foot-tall play structure and a 2,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art arcade; a 30-foot-tall Ronald McDonald; a singing animatronic Mac Tonight; and a unique menu with offerings including omelettes, waffles, wraps, pizzas, and pastas
It’s fairly common knowledge that McDonald’s used to have a major stake in Chipotle, but they also invested in plenty of other chains, including Donato’s Pizza. In 2001 they bought a 33 percent minority stake in U.K.-based Pret a Manger, best known for its sandwiches. In 2008, the company was sold to Bridgepoint, which brought an end to the relationship.
McDonald's legendary apple pie was introduced in 1968, and are freshly baked daily. They're made with Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Rome, Gala, Ida Red, and Fuji apples (all American-grown), and were originally fried until 1992, when they were baked. Ask anyone who had the opportunity to try the original fried pie and they'll tell you that the baked ones don't even come close; it's just one of many McDonald's menu items you'll never get to eat again.
Read more: The 20 Craziest, Strangest, and Most Extravagant McDonald’s Around the World
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