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Type Public (NYSE: MCD)
Founded May 15, 1940 in San Bernardino, California
Location Oak Brook, Illinois, United States
Key people Dick and Mac McDonald, Founders
Ray Kroc, Founder of McDonald's Corporation
Jim Skinner, CEO
Michael J. Roberts, President/COO
Ronald McDonald, Corporate Mascot
Industry Restaurants
Products Fast food, including Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, Chicken McNuggets, french fries, and sundaes
Revenue $20.460 Billion USD (2005)
Net income $2.602 Billion USD (2005)
Employees 447,000 (2005)
McDonald's Sekime national route store (Osaka, Japan)

McDonald's Sekime national route store (Osaka, Japan)

McDonald's Corporation (NYSE: MCD) is the world's largest chain of fast-food restaurants.

This company began in 1940 with a restaurant opened by siblings Dick and Mac McDonald, but it was their introduction of the "Speedee Service System" in 1948 that established the principles of the fast-food restaurant. However, the company today dates its "founding" to the opening of CEO Ray Kroc's first franchised restaurant, the company's ninth, in 1955.

Corporate overview

McDonald restaurants are found in 118 countries and territories around the world, by the company's reckoning. They serve nearly 50 million customers each day. The company operates other restaurant brands, such as Aroma Café, Boston Market and Chipotle Mexican Grill, and has a minority stake in Pret a Manger. Until December 2003 it also owned Donatos Pizza. It also has a subsidiary, Redbox, which started in 2003 as 18-foot wide automated convenience stores, but as of 2005 has focused on DVD rental machines. Revenues for 2004 were US$19.1 billion, with net income at $2.75 billion. Most standalone McDonald's restaurants offer both counter and drive-through service, with indoor and sometimes outdoor seating. Drive-Thru, Auto-Mac, or McDrive as it is known in many countries, often has separate stations for placing, paying for, and picking up orders, though the latter two steps are frequently combined. In some countries "McDrive" locations near highways offer no counter service or seating. In contrast, locations in high-density city neighborhoods often omit drive-through service. There are also a few locations, located mostly in downtown districts, that offer Walk-Thru service in place of Drive-Thru. Specially themed restaurants also exist, such as "Rock-and-Roll McDonald's" 1950s themed restaurants. Some McDonald's in suburban areas and certain cities feature large indoor or outdoor playgrounds, called "McDonald's PlayPlace" or "Playland". These were primarily created in the 1970s and 1980s in the USA, but later internationally. Due to lawsuits over kids playing and getting hurt, many of these have been torn down. The McDonald's Corporation's business model is slightly different from that of most other fast-food chains. In addition to ordinary franchise fees, supplies, and percentage of sales, McDonald's also collects rent, partially linked to sales. As a condition of the franchise agreement, the Corporation owns the properties on which most McDonald's franchises are located. The UK business model is different, in that fewer than 30% of restaurants are franchised, with the majority under the ownership of the company. McDonald's trains its franchisees and others at Hamburger University in Oak Brook, Illinois. According to Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser (2001), nearly one in eight workers in the US have at some time been employed by McDonald's. The book also states that McDonald's is the largest private operator of playgrounds in the U.S., as well as the single largest purchaser of beef, pork, potatoes, and apples.


McDonald's in Sanya, Hainan (China). This one is a soft drink/ice cream stand.

McDonald's in Sanya, Hainan (China). This one is a soft drink/ice cream stand.

Fourth McDonald's restaurant in Downey, California, at the corner of Lakewood and Florence. It is the oldest McDonald's restaurant still in operation.

Fourth McDonald's restaurant in Downey, California, at the corner of Lakewood and Florence. It is the oldest McDonald's restaurant still in operation.

'50s-themed McDonald's sign in Austin, Minnesota.

'50s-themed McDonald's sign in Austin, Minnesota.

First McDonald's restaurant in Zamboanga City, Philippines opened last February 28, 2005

First McDonald's restaurant in Zamboanga City, Philippines opened last February 28, 2005

McDonald's in a Malaysian mall

McDonald's in a Malaysian mall

McDonald's in Saint Petersburg, Russia

McDonald's in Saint Petersburg, Russia

McDonald's in Brazil, city of Uberlândia, state of Minas Gerais

McDonald's in Brazil, city of Uberlândia, state of Minas Gerais

  • 1937: Brothers Dick and Mac McDonald open a hot dog stand called the Airdome in Arcadia, California.
  • 1940: The brothers move the Airdome building to San Bernardino, California, where they open the McDonald's restaurant on Route 66, at 14th and E St., on May 15. Its menu consists of 25 items, mostly barbecue. As is common at the time, they employ around 20 carhops. It becomes a popular and highly profitable teen hangout.
  • 1948: After noting that almost all of their profits came from hamburgers, the brothers close down the restaurant for several months to implement their innovative "Speedee Service System", a streamlined assembly line for hamburgers. The carhops are fired, and when the restaurant reopens it sells only hamburgers, milkshakes, and french fries. At 15 cents, the burgers are about half as expensive as at standard diners, and they are served immediately. The restaurant is extremely successful, and its fame spreads by word of mouth.
  • 1953: The McDonald brothers begin to franchise their restaurant, with Neil Fox as the first franchisee. The second McDonald's opens in Phoenix, Arizona. It is the first to feature the Golden Arches design; later in the year the original restaurant is rebuilt in this style.
  • 1953: Fourth McDonald's restaurant opens, in Downey, California at the corner of Lakewood and Florence Avenue, and is the oldest McDonald's restaurant still in operation.
  • 1954: Entrepreneur and milkshake-mixer salesman Ray Kroc becomes fascinated by the McDonald's restaurant during a sales visit, when he learns of its extraordinary capacity and popularity. Others who had visited the restaurant and come away inspired were James McLamore, founder of Burger King, and Glen Bell, founder of Taco Bell. After seeing the restaurant in operation, Kroc approaches the McDonald brothers, who have already begun franchising, with a proposition to let him franchise McDonald's restaurants outside the company's homebase of California and Arizona, with himself as the first franchisee. Kroc works hard to sell McDonald's. He even attempts to prevail on his wartime acquaintance with Walt Disney, in the failed hope of opening a McDonald's at the soon-to-be-opened Disneyland.
  • 1955: Ray Kroc founds "McDonald's Systems, Inc." on March 2, as a legal structure for his planned franchises. Kroc opens the ninth McDonald's restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois, in suburban Chicago on April 15. The first day's revenues are $366.12. The company's literature usually refers to this date as the "beginning" of the company, then already 15 years old, writing the McDonald brothers out of its history in favor of "Founder" Kroc. The company still refers to this restaurant as "McDonald's #1". In July, Ray Kroc opens his second McDonald's restaurant in Fresno, California, operated by Art Bender, Ray Kroc's first franchisee. The Fresno site is referred to as "first McDonald's restaurant franchised by Ray Kroc" on a plaque on the site, which has been rebuilt to resemble the 1950s-style restaurants.
  • 1955: Ray Kroc hires Harry J. Sonneborn as the Chief Financial Officer for McDonald's. Harry Sonneborn remained a key influence in the McDonald's corporation till his resignation in 1967.
  • 1960: Kroc's company is renamed "McDonald's Corporation".
  • 1961: The McDonald brothers agree to sell Kroc business rights to their operation for $2.7 million, a sum that Kroc borrows from a number of investors, including Princeton University; Kroc considers the sum extreme, and it strains his relationship with the brothers. The agreement allows the brothers to keep their original restaurant, but in an oversight they fail to retain the right to remain a McDonald's franchise. Renamed "The Big M", Kroc drives it out of business by opening a McDonald's just one block north; he attended the opening. Had the brothers maintained their original agreement, which granted them 0.5% of the chain's annual revenues, they or their heirs would have been collecting in excess of $100 million per year today.
  • 1963: One of Kroc's marketing insights is his decision to market McDonald's hamburgers to families and children. Washington, D.C. franchisees John Gibson and Oscar Goldstein (Gee Gee Distributing Corporation) sponsor a children's show on WRC-TV called Bozo the Clown, a franchised character played in Washington, D.C. by Willard Scott from 1959 until 1962. After the show was cancelled, Goldstein hires Scott to portray McDonald's new mascot, named Ronald McDonald. Scott, looking nothing like the familiar appearance of any McDonaldland character as is known today, appeared in the first three television advertisements featuring the character. After changing the character's first name to "Ronald" and replacing Scott with a new actor, and giving him the more familiar red, white, and yellow clown features, the character eventually spreads to the rest of the country via an advertising campaign. Years later, an entire cast of "McDonaldland" characters is developed.
  • 1963: The Filet-O-Fish is introduced in Cincinnati, Ohio, in a restaurant located in a neighborhood dominated by Roman Catholics who practiced abstinence (the avoidance of meat) on Fridays. It is the first new addition to the original menu, and goes national the following year, with fish supplied by Gorton's of Gloucester.
  • 1967: The first McDonald's restaurant outside the United States opens in Richmond, British Columbia.
  • 1967: The chain's current stand-alone restaurant design, with mansard roof and indoor seating, is introduced.
  • 1968: The Big Mac (similar to the Big Boy hamburger), the brainchild of Jim Delligatti, one of Ray Kroc's earliest franchisees, who by the late 1960s operated a dozen stores in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is first introduced in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania market in 1967, before going system/nationwide a year later, following its great local success. The Hot Apple Pie is also introduced this year.
  • 1970: Having changed hands in 1968, the original "Big M" restaurant closes. It is demolished two years later, with only part of the sign remaining; this has since been restored.
  • 1971: The first Asian McDonald's opens in July in Japan, in Tokyo's Ginza district.
  • 1971: On August 21, the first European McDonald's outlet opens, in Zaandam (near Amsterdam) in the Netherlands. The franchisee is Ahold.
  • 1971: The first McDonald's in Germany (Munich) opens in December. It is the first McDonald's to sell alcohol, as it offers beer. Other European countries follow in the early 1970s.
  • 1971: The first Australian McDonald's opens in the Sydney suburb of Yagoona in December.
  • 1973: The Quarter Pounder is introduced.
  • 1974: On October 12, the first McDonald's in the United Kingdom opens in Woolwich, southeast London. It is the company's 3000th restaurant.
  • 1975: Drive-Thru is introduced in January in Sierra Vista, Arizona. It was later known as "McDrive" in some countries.
  • 1979: The Happy Meal is introduced in the U.S.
  • 1979: The first McDonald's in France opens, in Strasbourg.
  • 1979: The first McDonald's in Southeast Asia opens, in Singapore.
  • 1980: McDonald's introduces the McChicken sandwich, its first poultry item. It flops, and is removed from the menu, but is later reintroduced after Chicken McNuggets prove successful.
  • 1983: McDonald's introduces the Chicken McNugget, a then-novel bite-size piece of mixed dark and white meat; it quickly becomes a best-seller.
  • 1984: On July 18, James Oliver Huberty rakes a McDonald's restaurant with gunfire, killing 21 people in San Ysidro, San Diego, California, before Huberty himself was killed by police in the now-infamous McDonald's massacre.
  • 1984: The company is a main sponsor of the 1984 Summer Olympics. Its U.S. restaurants lose money on the game "When The US Wins, You Win" after the Soviet bloc nations boycott the Games, leading to a high number of medals won by the U.S. (This is later parodied in an episode of The Simpsons, with Krusty the Klown's Krustyburger chain suffering a similar fate)
  • 1988: McDonald's opens its first restaurant in a communist country, in Budapest, Hungary. Belgrade, Yugoslavia follows in the same year.
  • 1990: On January 31, the first Soviet McDonald's opens, in Moscow. At the time it is the largest McDonald's in the world (it is still Europe's biggest). For political reasons, McDonald's Canada is responsible for this opening, with little input from the U.S. parent company; a wall display within the restaurant shows the Canadian and Soviet flags. To overcome Soviet supply problems, the company creates its own supply chain, including farms, within the USSR. Unlike other foreign investments, the restaurant accepts rubles, not dollars, and is extremely popular, with waiting lines of several hours common in its early days.
  • 1992: The first McDonald's opens in Africa, in Casablanca, Morocco.
  • 1992: Stella Liebeck receives third-degree burns from coffee purchased at a McDonald's drive-through. She sued in what became known as the McDonald's coffee case.
  • 1992: Freeman MacNeil, Darren Muise, and Derek Wood, employees of the McDonald's in Sydney River, Nova Scotia, break into the restaurant after closing, planning to rob the place. They shoot, stab, and beat three employees to death and leave a fourth permanently disabled.
  • 1992: On April 23, the world's largest McDonald's opens in Beijing, China (over 700 seats). Along with adjacent buildings, it is later demolished.
  • 1993: The company launches its first sea-going restaurant onboard the Finnish cruiseferry Silja Europa, sailing between Helsinki and Stockholm.
  • 1995: The first McDonald's opens in Israel.
  • 1995: McDonald's receives complaints from franchisees that too many franchises are being granted, leading to competition among franchisees. McDonald's starts conducting market impact studies before granting further franchises.
  • 1996: Following the end of apartheid, the first McDonald's in South Africa opens.
  • 1996: First McDonald's opens in Belarus, marking the chain's 100th country. At the opening ceremony, the Belarusian militia are accused of brutality toward members of the public hoping to enter the restaurant in Minsk.
  • 1996: The first Indian McDonald's opens.
  • 1997: McDonald's wins the "McLibel" case, in what many consider to be a Pyrrhic victory in terms of the company's image. Only about half of the counts are in McDonald's favour despite enormous legal resources deployed against self-representing defendants.
  • 1999: French leftist activist José Bové and others gain worldwide attention when they destroy a half-built McDonald's franchise in Millau (Aveyron). The incident follows a European Union ban on American meat imports, on the grounds that they use hormone treatments; in response the U.S. had increased import duties on French Roquefort cheese and other European Union products. Bové was sentenced to three months in prison for his role in the incident.
  • 2000: Eric Schlosser publishes Fast Food Nation, a book critical of fast food in general and McDonald's in particular.
  • 2000: The company opens its 1000th British store, inside the Millennium Dome.
  • 2001: The FBI reports that employees of Simon Worldwide, a company hired by McDonald's to provide promotion marketing services for Happy Meals and the 'Millionaire'/'Monopoly' contest, stole winning game pieces worth more than $20 million.
  • 2002: A survey in Restaurants and Institutions magazine ranks McDonald's 15th in food quality among hamburger chains, highlighting the company's failure to enforce standards across its franchise network.
  • 2002: McDonald's posts its first quarterly loss ($344m), for the last quarter. It responds to the stiff competition from other fast-food restaurants, offering higher quality burgers and more variety, by attempting to move more upmarket by expanding its menu and refitting restaurants. It announces it is withdrawing from three countries (including Bolivia) and closing 175 underperforming restaurants.
  • 2003: McDonald's starts a global marketing campaign which promotes a new healthier and higher-quality image. The campaign was labeled "i'm lovin' it™" and began simultaneously in more than 100 countries around the world.
  • 2003: According to Technomic, a market research firm, McDonald's' share of the U.S. market has fallen three percentage points in five years and is now at 15.2%. [1]
  • 2003: The firm reports a $126M USD loss for the fourth quarter [2].
  • 2004: Morgan Spurlock directs and stars in Super Size Me documentary film in which the protagonist eats nothing but McDonald's food for 30 days to the perceived detriment of his health.
  • 2005: McDonald's experiments with call centers for drive-through orders. The center, located in Fargo, North Dakota takes orders from more than a dozen stores in Oregon and Washington. The experiment is in part motivated by labor costs, since the minimum wage in North Dakota is over 40% lower than that in Oregon or Washington.
  • 2005: Owing in part to competitive pressure, McDonald's Australia begins "Made for you" policy in which the food is cooked after the customer orders (as opposed to the firm's normal procedure since 1948, in which the food is cooked then sold as needed). It should become standard practice in all Australian restaurants by 2007. Some restaurants in New Zealand also follow suit. The practice had earlier been tested, and abandoned, in the U.S.
  • 2005: McDonald's in Singapore began their McDelivery service: customers place their food orders over the phone, and it is delivered to wherever they are. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • 2005: McDonald's opens a Wi-Fi service in selected restaurants with Nintendo for Nintendo DS.
  • 2005: Ronald McDonald gets a leaner, sportier look.
  • 2006: McDonald's announces that it will include nutritional information on the packaging for all products beginning in March[3] and that its upcoming menu changes will emphasize chicken, salads, and other "fresh foods" rather than hamburgers[4].


McDonald's faces varying problems. Some of these are unique to franchising. As one of the world's largest and best recognized franchise systems, it must endeavour to successfully deal with matters of internal cohesion between the interests of its franchisees and that of the franchisor. At the same time, its global reach and broadly standard product line and level of service have led to McDonald's becoming the target of anti-globalization protests, and as the highest-profile fast food company, it is often blamed for obesity and excessive packaging waste. Its moves to protect its reputation and trademarks have at times been seen as heavy-handed.

As the world's largest restaurant chain, McDonald's also finds itself a target for external criticism. Even though its foreign franchise locations are usually locally owned and use locally-produced foods, the company is seen as a symbol of American domination of economic resources. Urban legends about the company and its food are plentiful and it is often the target of unusual lawsuits.

McDonald's has been the target of criticism for allegations of exploitation of entry-level workers, use of sweatshop labor to produce "happy meal" toys, ecological damage caused by agricultural production and industrial processing of its products, selling unhealthy food, production of packaging waste, exploitative advertising (especially targeted at children, minorities, and low-income people), and contributing to suffering and exploitation of livestock. McDonald's' historic tendency towards promoting high-calorie foods such as French fries has earned it the nickname "the starchy arches".

Greenpeace research alleges that not only is soya destroying the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, but soya farmers are guilty of further crimes including slavery and the invasion of indigenous peoples’ lands. The soya that is fed to McDonald’s chickens is supplied by agricultural giant Cargill and comes directly from Brazil. Cargill is the leading international culprit in the advance of soya in the Amazon. The accusation is that McDonald's, as a client of Cargill's, is complicit in these alleged activities. [1]

Legal cases

In the high profile McLibel Trial, McDonald's took two anti-McDonald's campaigners, Helen Steel and Dave Morris, to court for a trial lasting two and a half years—the longest in English legal history and part of a 20-year battle—after the pair distributed leaflets critical of the company in London's streets. McDonald's won the case in the U.K. High Court, and were awarded £60,000 damages, which later was reduced to £40,000 by the Court of Appeal. Steel and Morris then made a separate but related claim against the U.K. Government in the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that the lack of access to legal aid and the heavy burden of proof that lay with them to prove their claims (rather than McDonald's, the claimants, having to prove that the claims were false) under U.K. libel law breached the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression. The ECHR ruled against the U.K. Government, which subsequently introduced legislation to change the libel laws to remedy the defects highlighted by the ECHR judgment. The libel charge and fine were overturned in an appeals case - see McLibel case. In March, 2006, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group of South Florida farmworkers, began a campaign demanding better wages for the people who pick the tomatoes used by the fast-food company.

McDonald's has also been criticized for its approach to preserving its image and copyrights. It has threatened many foodservice businesses with legal action unless they drop the Mc or Mac from their trading name. In one noteworthy case, McDonald's sued a Scottish café owner called McDonald, even though the business in question dated back over a century. Other legal battles include:

  • Pursuing a 26-year legal action against an Illinois restaurant owned by a man named Ronald McDonald (opened in 1956).
  • In 1994, McDonald's successfully forced Elizabeth McCaughey of the San Francisco Bay Area to change the trading name of her coffeeshop McCoffee, which had operated under that name for 17 years.
  • In 1994, McDonald's sued a restaurant in Kingston, Jamaica, because of trademark infringement, although it had opened in 1971, before McDonald's entered the Jamaican market.
  • In 1996, McDonald's lost a legal battle at the Danish Supreme Court to force Allan Pedersen, a mincemeat sandwich vendor, to drop his shop name McAllan.
  • In 1996, McDonald's forced Scottish sandwich shop owner Mary Blair of Fenny Stratford, Buckinghamshire to drop McMunchies as her trading name.
  • In 2001, McDonald's lost a nine-year legal action against Frank Yuen of McChina Wok Away, Chinese takeway outlets in various part of the UK.

In South Africa, McDonald's had to battle against the country's trademark laws, which stated that a registered trademark had to be used within a certain period of time. This resulted in a local company announcing plans to launch its own fast-food chain using the McDonald's name, although the South African High Court eventually ruled in McDonald's favor.

In July 2001, McDonald's was fined £12,400 by British magistrates for illegally employing and over-working child labor in one of its London restaurants. This is thought to be one of the largest fines imposed on a company for breaking laws relating to child working conditions.

Also in 2001, Eric Schlosser's book Fast Food Nation included scathing criticism of McDonald's' business practices. Among the critiques are allegations that McDonald's (along with other companies within the fast-food industry) uses its political influence to increase their own profits at the expense of people's health and the social conditions of its workers. The book also brings into question McDonald's advertisement techniques where it targets children taking advantage of their innocence. While the book does mention other fast-food chains, it focuses primarily on McDonald's.

In 2003, a ruling by the UK Advertising Standards Authority determined that the corporation had acted in breach of the codes of practice in describing how its french fries were prepared. A McDonald's print ad stated that "after selecting certain potatoes" "we peel them, slice them, fry them and that's it." It showed a picture of a potato in a McDonald's fries box. In fact the product was sliced, pre-fried, sometimes had dextrose added, was then frozen, shipped, and re-fried and then had salt added.

In June 2004, the UK's Private Eye reported that McDonald's was handing out meal vouchers, balloons, and toys to children in pediatric wards. This was especially controversial as the report was made within weeks of a British Government report stating that the present generation may be the first to die before their parents due to spiraling obesity in the British population.

Also in 2004, Morgan Spurlock's documentary film Super Size Me produced negative publicity for McDonald's, with allegations that McDonald's food was contributing heavily to the [5] epidemic of obesity in American society, and failing to provide nutritional information about its food for its customers. For 30 days Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald's (supersizing whenever asked) and by the end of the month Spurlock reported mood swings, sexual dysfunction, and had gained 24.5 pounds (11.11 kg). Subsequent to the showing of the film at the Sundance Film Festival, but before its cinematic release, McDonald's phased out its Supersize meal option and began offering several healthier menu items, though no link to the film was cited in this decision. They also began a practice of putting all nutritional information for all menu items in light grey small print on the reverse of their tray liners. Several other people later similarly ate only at McDonald's for a month, but by choosing menu items more judiciously (Spurlock ate everything on the menu at least once, always accepted upsizing requests of McDonald's employees, and continued to eat after he was full) and exercising frequently, showed no ill effects. One woman was even able to lose weight, claiming that the transparency of nutritional information made it easy to control daily caloric intake.[citation needed]

The company has progressively introduced a line of salads and vegetarian oriented items in recent years, with the result that the menu is probably now among the most varied in existence for franchised convenience restaurants of McDonald's type. However, a large amount of anecdotal evidence exists which suggests that hygiene standards with regards to food preparation can be inconsistently applied by individual McDonald's restaurants, despite the universal policy being strict.

UK adult comic, Viz, sued Mcdonalds over allegations that their top tips advertising campaign was using Top Tips from the comic without permission.

Global impact

Countries with McDonald's stores

Countries with McDonald's stores

Some observers have suggested that many of McDonald's innovations have become commonplace and are no longer seen as such, and that the company should be given credit for increasing the standard of service in markets it enters. A group of anthropologists in a study entitled Golden Arches East (Stanford University Press, 1998, edited by James L. Watson) looked at the impact McDonald's had on East Asia, and Hong Kong in particular. Among the findings were that McDonald's had solved the problem of losing face for many customers (who might be embarrassed when someone else ordered a more expensive item in a restaurant; as the food at McDonald's is all similarly priced, this ceased to be an issue). McDonald's have to a large extent (within the overarching American context) shown an unusual level of desire to cater to varying cultural requirements. The Filet-O-Fish being introduced to cater to Catholic abstinence is one example of this. However, the company at one point also became involved in controversy when it was revealed that french fries were cooked in non-kosher beef tallow, which greatly upset Islamic, Jewish, and Hindu customers, to whom it had been claimed that the fries were in fact kosher.

When it opened in Hong Kong in 1975, McDonald's was the first restaurant to consistently offer clean restrooms, driving customers to demand the same of other restaurants and institutions. By popularizing the idea of a quick restaurant meal, the study suggests, McDonald's led to the easing or elimination of various taboos, such as that on eating while walking in Japan. In most cases, McDonald's quickly became accepted, and was no longer seen as a foreign institution.

In other cases, the firm has shown itself ready to adjust its business practices. When environmentally damaging packaging and waste produced by the company's restaurants became a public concern, McDonald's started a joint project with Friends of the Earth to eliminate the use of polystyrene containers and to reduce the amount of waste produced.

Emblem of globalization

McDonald's has become emblematic of globalization, sometimes referred as the "Mcdonaldization" of society. The Economist magazine uses the "Big Mac index" (the price of a Big Mac) as an informal measure of purchasing power parity among world currencies. Thomas Friedman suggested that no countries with McDonald's had gone to war with each other. His theory ("Golden Arches" theory) seemed to have been disproved when NATO bombed Serbia in 1999, although it was pointed out in The Economist that NATO itself has no McDonald's. McDonald's remains a target of anti-globalization protesters worldwide.

McDonalds is the largest toy manufacturer and distributor in the world.


The first McDonald's was not a restaurant at all, but a walk-up hot dog stand. The company's early franchises were built to a standard pattern that did not offer seating; this was in part to prevent loitering. However, the potential of sit-down restaurants was clear from the beginning, and the company switched to a new standard design for sit-down restaurants in 1967, upon which current standalone restaurants are still based. The company introduced the Drive-Thru in 1975, following the lead of competitor Wendy's, rapidly adding it to existing restaurants wherever this was feasible.

A McDonald's restaurant at Forum the Shopping Mall, Orchard Road, Singapore

A McDonald's restaurant at Forum the Shopping Mall, Orchard Road, Singapore

However useful the standard design may have been in popularizing McDonald's and making the company's restaurants instantly recognizable, it is not always possible, or appropriate, for all restaurant locations. McDonald's has often faced organized campaigns claiming it would threaten its surroundings, particularly in historic locations. Possibly in an effort for European nations to become more accepting of the McDonald's concept, the second McDonald's in Italy, opened 1986 near the Spanish Steps in Rome, is widely heralded as the most luxurious McDonald's restaurant. It features indoor fountains, marble walls and floors. Other restaurants in similarly sensitive settings have muted décor and blend into existing architecture.


A McDonald's with McCafé, in IFC Mall, Hong Kong.

A McDonald's with McCafé, in IFC Mall, Hong Kong.

The McCafé is a bistro-like restaurant concept by McDonald's Corporation in an effort to gain a share of the ever popular and expanding gourmet coffee market, to avoid losing market share to companies such as Starbucks. With comfortable leather chairs and couches, natural wood accents, and bistro style tables, the ambience is that of a typical modern coffee shop. Dine-in patrons forego the plastic trays and paper wrappers for the more elegant china plates and stainless steel silverware.

The menu boasts the standard bistro fare, including paninis, coffee and espresso drinks, and baked goods and pastries, and all menu items are available for take-out. House coffee blends are sold both normally and in tins for home brewing.

The concept was introduced in Australia in 1993 and has been successful in several other countries, including Ireland, Brazil, Israel, Chile, Panama, New Zealand, Colombia, Guatemala, France, Italy, Singapore, the Philippines and most recently Canada. There are 22 McCafés in Hong Kong. The concept has recently been introduced into the U.S., including a McCafé in Orlando, Florida. The first McCafé in the United States was in Raleigh, NC.

Extreme McDonald's

Other interesting restaurants

  • A McDonald's near Vinita, Oklahoma is situated above Interstate 44, such that it is possible to eat while cars and trucks pass underneath. The Vinita restaurant is said to be the world's largest McDonald's in terms of square footage. The following story appeared in Reader's Digest for June, 2006, p.64: "Driving through Oklahoma, my husband and I went out of our way to stop at what was billed as the largest McDonald's in the world. However, we were less than thrilled when an employee addressed everyone over the intercom, 'Attention, world's largest McDonald's customers...!'"
  • McDonald's recently won a contract with the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority to place restaurants in renovated oases, many of which are located over the tollways. (Prior to the renovations, there had been McDonald's and other chain stores on these overhead oases, which had superceded earlier restaurants, such as the once-plentiful Howard Johnson's, which had been similarly placed over the tollway.)
  • A former McDonald's in St. Louis, Missouri was a riverboat on the Mississippi River. The restaurant is now closed.
  • Sälen in Sweden opened the first ski-through McDonald's in the world.
  • A McDonald's located in East Coast Park in Singapore has a skate-thru, together with the main restaurant.
  • The McDonald's restaurant in Bray, Republic of Ireland occupies the entire former Town Hall.
  • In Israel, some McDonald's restaurants are kosher, although most are not; there is also a kosher restaurant in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires.
  • In Dearborn, Michigan (where there is a significant Muslim population), there are two McDonald's Restaurant branches which sell halal Chicken McNuggets and McChicken Sandwiches.
  • In Moscow, Russia, a McDonald's exists that also doubles as a firehouse museum/memorial.
  • McDonald's sometimes subdues or varies its corporate image to blend in with the local environment. For example, in Sedona, Arizona, a McDonald's has "Green Arches" to fit in with the city's natural look. Similarly, one in Paris has a white McDonald's "M."
  • The 24th Street & Mission Street Mission District restaurant, San Francisco, California, has a mural inside and on the outside walls. It portrays small children from the neighborhood and was painted by Precita Eyes (a local muralist group) and the neighborhood children the mural displays.
  • The McDonald's on east Fordham Road near Webster Avenue in the Bronx is considered the birthplace of the Guardian Angels safety patrol. Angels founder Curtis Sliwa was a manager and many of the founding members of the Angels worked there in the late 1970s.
  • A McDonald's at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is the only store in Cuba (McDonald's is subject to the Cuban embargo). McDonald's fare has been used as a reward for prisoners in the detention camps.
  • In a McDonald's in Ontario, Canada, murals of rolling hills, blue skies and golf greens cover the walls. A neon sign displaying "The Nineteenth Hole" is situated above the counter, referring the tradition of calling the clubhouse or bar on a golf course the "nineteenth hole".
  • A McDonald's located in the The Pentagon occupies one of the former cafeterias.
  • The most-visited McDonald's Restaurant in 1986 was located on a large floating boat at the 1986 World's Fair, hosted in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The restaurant, nicknamed McBarge, now floats abandoned outside downtown Vancouver.
  • A McDonald's in New York City, located at 160 Broadway, features a doorman, marble tables, chandeliers, a private dining room with wait staff and silverware, and live music played on a baby grand piano. [7][8]
  • The McDonald's in Pompei, Italy, located near the ruins of Pompeii, features wall murals depicting Ronald McDonald, Grimace, The Fry Kids and other McDonald's characters wearing togas in a Tuscan landscape.
  • At a McDonald's in Cairo, Egypt orders are taken at a counter, however trays bearing the meal are brought by staff to customers at their table.
  • A McDonald's in Hong Kong, China, features a hostess who directs customers to the shortest line, and clients are expected to leave trays and garbage for the dedicated dining area staff to clear away.
  • In all McDonald's in Saudi Arabia the term (Hamburger) has been replaced with (Beefburger) as of 2005 since all pork products are not allowed in Saudi Arabia (even though it never contained any pork). Aside from the local specials, Saudi Arabian McDonald's feature many spin-offs to the original menu sandwiches such as a Chicken Big Mac and Spicy McChicken. As it is with all fast food restaurants in Saudi Arabia, the clients are to leave trays and garbage for the dining area staff to clear away.
  • The restaurant in Tai Wo Estate, Tai Po, Hong Kong is built outside the shopping complex and of house style. There are only 2 such restaurants in Hong Kong. (another is in Heng Fa Chuen, which is the world's 11,000th outlet).


Main article: McDonald's menu items

McDonald's offers a variety of fast-foods, desserts, and beverages. Some items are only specific to certain regions. In the beginning of 2006, McDonalds started printing nutrition facts on the packaging of their products after pressure from concerned individuals to include nutrition facts on the packaging, citing that the often hidden nutrition charts and pamphlets were not comprehensive enough.

McDonald's TV campaigns and slogans

Main article: McDonald's TV campaigns and slogans

To date, McDonald's has used a total of twenty-three different slogans in United States advertising, as well as a few other slogans for select countries and regions.

Hamburger University

In Oak Brook, Illinois, where the company headquarters is located, is the first Hamburger University, a school for future executive managers of regional franchises. Adjacent to the building is a McDonald's-themed hotel. Similar "Hamburger U" training schools have been set up around the world.

Corporate governance

Current members of the board of directors of McDonald's are: Hall Adams, Edward Brennan, Robert Eckert, Enrique Hernandez, Jeff Hunter, Richard Lewis, Andrew McKenna, Cary McMillan, and Michael J. Roberts.

See also

Documentaries about McDonald's Corporation

  • The emergence and evolution of McDonald's business in Japan is documented in Terry Sanders' film The Japan Project: Made in America.
  • Morgan Spurlock's diet of nothing but McDonald's for 30 days is documented in Super Size Me.
  • McLibel 2005 (remake of 'McLibel - two world's collide' (1997)) from Spanner Films


  1. Greenpeace International. "We're trashin'it, How McDonalds's is eating up the Amazon", PDF, April-2006. URL accessed on 18-04-2006.

External links


Source: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "McDonald's".

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Don Sniegowski's picture

McDonald's 1972 Training Video

1972 McDonald's Training FilmPosted Jan 06, 2006

This retro McDonald's training film gets really funny around the 2-minute mark, when the customers start yelling at the employees and all hell nearly breaks loose.

Mr. Blue MauMau's picture

Big Mac: Inside the McDonald's Empire

CNBC has a video series, "Inside the McDonald's Empire" that Carl Quintinalla reports on. It recalls the history of McDonald's. The interview with Ray Kroc is suggested for anyone involved in franchising.

RichardSolomon's picture

Gee, Batman. Maybe I oughta try it

I wonder how many times I would have to watch this film before I became  sweet guy? Hmmmmm 

Richard Solomon

About Mr. Blue MauMau

Mr. Blue MauMau's picture

Public Profile

Mr. Blue MauMau's my name and speaking on behalf of franchise buyers and owners in this patch of reef is my game. I'm a fish that sports glasses, a bow tie and a serious attitude of wanting to know the truth when it comes to anything about franchises.

You can reach the editor at or call +1 (270) 321-1268.