The McDonald’s legend began in 1954 with a man named Ray Kroc, who was working as a milkshake machine salesman.
He visited Mac and Dick McDonald’s smart hamburger restaurant in San Bernardino, Calfornia, to sell some machines, and was impressed with the quality of everything he saw, from the standard of hygiene, to the quality of the food and the speed of service, that he asked if they would allow him to open a ‘copycat’ branch under a franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois.
Most fast-food outlets at the time were rather seedy and a magnet for the new ‘teenagers’ and not the sort of places for families with young children or elderly relatives to eat out.
So in 1961, Ray Kroc, frustrated that the McDonald brothers didn’t share his plans for expansion, bought all the rights to the McDonalds’ operation for $2.7million. Within a decade he had opened no fewer than 500 American branches.
He also issued franchises but buyers were subjected to anonymous inspections to maintain uniform standards – the key to its success was that every aspect of production was controlled.
American staff were trained at the Hamburger University of Chicago. The grill men were taught to move from left to right, putting out six rows of burgers. They then had to flip the third row first, then the fourth, fifth and sixth, before the first and the second.
The golden arches were introduced in 1968, by which time global recognition was established. One potato in 12 grown in the US is bought by McDonald’s for their fries and the operation is by far the biggest consumer of beef, despite the existence of many other fast-food chains.
Today, McDonald’s is the number one fast-food empire in the world. With more than 1,400 restaurants in about 70 countries, and the gigantic golden arches symbol is probably the most recognized brand in the world after Coca-Cola.
38 million people a day eat a McDonald’s meal – equivalent to the entire population of Spain, including the Canaries!
Indeed, if all the hamburgers produced by McDonald’s in a year were laid in a straight line, they would stretch five times around the world, or would reach nearly 2,000 times higher than Mount Everest!