75 of the Craziest Facts About McDonald’s
With billions of people served, McDonald’s has played a fascinating role in shaping international culture since its first restaurant opened. Here, a compilation of surprising McDonald’s trivia even its most loyal customers may not know.
It started as a BBQ restaurant
Seventy-five years ago, in 1940, brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald opened up the first McDonald’s restaurant—a BBQ joint—in San Bernardino, California (it’s now a museum). Eight years later, they switched to burgers, shakes, potato chips, and pie. The McDonalds purchased several Multi-mixers for use in their establishment, and when Multi-mixer salesman Ray Kroc visited, he was impressed by their success and efficiency. Kroc purchased franchise rights from the brothers. In 1955, he opened his first franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois. Looking for more McDonald’s facts? This is the first McDonald’s menu ever.
The military inspired its first drive-through
McDonald’s first drive-through opened in 1975 in Sierra Vista, Arizona. What inspired the then-revolutionary concept? The restaurant was located near a military base, and soldiers were not allowed to leave their cars while wearing fatigues. Want to learn more pop-culture facts? These questions from Jeopardy will stump you.
The Ronald McDonald House makes a big impact
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All those dimes and pennies do add up: In 2013, Ronald McDonald House Charities—the nonprofit organization that is McDonald’s charity of choice—raised around $450 million. It used those funds to help nearly 9 million children and their families worldwide. Today, RMHC has nearly 300 local chapters in 58 countries and regions.
There are more McDonald’s restaurants than hospitals
There are almost more than one-and-half times more McDonald’s locations than hospitals in the United States: 14,350 versus 10,660. Find out the only U.S. state capital without a McDonald’s.
It used to own most of Chipotle
McDonald’s invested in Chipotle in 1998, back when the fast-Mexican chain consisted of 16 restaurants. By 2006, McDonald’s owned 90 percent of Chipotle—which had grown to 500 locations—but it sold its stake in order to focus on McDonald’s.
It doesn’t have the fastest drive-through
The average McDonald’s drive-through transaction took roughly three minutes, or 189.49 seconds, according to one study; the fast-food leader was Wendy’s with a 133.63-second turnaround time.
McDonald’s Coca-Cola really is different
Some discerning diners believe that the Coke served at McDonald’s tastes better than it does at other places. They may be onto something: Only at McDonald’s is the Coke syrup delivered in stainless steel tanks to preserve its freshness; elsewhere, it’s transported in plastic bags.
The Golden Arches used to look different
Founder Richard McDonald first sketched the Golden Arches as an architectural feature to attract customers in cars looking from the roadside, but it took five more years for the arches to be linked into an M (shown at right, at a present-day restaurant in Downey, California, the oldest one still in operation). Did you know there might be a hidden sexual meaning behind McDonald’s gold arches?
It’s one of the most famous symbols
The Golden Arches are said to be the most recognized symbol in the world, even ahead of the cross.
It’s home to the … Turquoise Arches?
The McDonald’s in Sedona, Arizona, has the world’s only turquoise arches—the owners of that franchise were told that they needed to make the location more in keeping with the distinct desert environment. The blue was chosen to echo the sky, and the building is more orange and red to resemble the surrounding terrain.