Revealed—The First McDonald’s Menu Ever

It only contained nine items—and you can still get some of them today!

Long before the world first heard “I’m Lovin’ It” and the Golden Arches became one of the best-known logos in the world, McDonald’s was just a humble restaurant trying out a new concept called “fast food.” When the McDonald brothers set up shop in 1940, they produced a simple menu with only nine items. This menu laid the foundation for the McDonald’s we know and love today. Make sure you also check out the truth behind 11 popular McDonald’s rumors.

The “Amazing Menu”

McDonald’s “Amazing Menu” was as loaded with enticing adjectives as its fries are with salty goodness. The first McDonald’s cheeseburger wasn’t just a cheeseburger; it was a “Tempting Cheeseburger.” And the root beer was downright “delightful.” But the best thing about this menu has to be the prices. The most expensive item was the “Triple-Thick Shake,” which cost a whopping 20 cents. You could get a shake in Chocolate, Vanilla, or Strawberry (hence the “Triple” part of the name). If you wanted the milk without the shake, you could order a “Refreshing Cold Milk” for only 12 cents. Now you can find those tempting items almost all over the world, but not in the 9 countries that have banned McDonald’s.

Five different items on the menu were tied for the cheapest, a whole 10 cents cheaper than the most expensive item. The 10-cent items were: fries, coffee, root beer, a “Full-Flavor Orange Drink,” and a good old “Thirst-Quenching Coke.” And finally, right at the top of the menu was the classic Pure Beef Hamburger. Its most iconic burger wasn’t there quite yet—check out these other 14 things you never knew about Big Macs.

How are the menus today?

Since the 1940s and the “Amazing” but short menu, both the list of available items and the prices have grown. Today at McDonald’s, you can get everything from Egg McMuffins to Filets-O-Fish to even a vegan burger. And let’s not forget about the McDonald’s in Orlando, Florida, where you can order pasta, customizable pizzas, and waffles! But, as a glimpse of this old menu reveals, many of the franchise favorites have been around since the very beginning. Some of the original offerings that are still staples today: hamburgers, cheeseburgers, milkshakes, coffee—and, of course, those delicious fries. On the other hand, the menus will never again feature these 11 McDonald’s items that totally failed.

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a Staff Writer for RD.com who has been writing since before she could write. She graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been writing for Reader's Digest since 2017. In spring 2017, her creative nonfiction piece "Anticipation" was published in Angles literary magazine. She is a proud Hufflepuff and member of Team Cap.