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Here’s What McDonald’s Looked Like When It First Opened In 1955

The massive fast food restaurant chain had a humble beginning.

Courtesy McDonald's

The first official restaurant

It’s the 65th anniversary of McDonald’s and there are over 36,000 McDonald’s restaurants around the world currently. But the franchise actually started out as a tiny establishment. The McDonald brothers, Dick and Mac, opened the first “McDonald’s” in San Bernardino, California in 1948. The menu included hamburgers, soft drinks, pie, French fries, milk, coffee, and milkshakes. Ray Kroc, a traveling salesman, visited the store and became fascinated with the operation. The brothers expressed that they wanted to expand nationwide, and Kroc signed on as their first franchise agent in 1954. Kroc opened up the first restaurant for McDonald’s System, Inc. on April 15, 1955, in Des Plaines, Illinois. That store is pictured above. Starting a franchise comes with a lot of setbacks, check out these McDonald’s menu items that completely failed.

U.S. MCDONALDS ORIGINAL, BEAVER FALLS, USAFred Vuich/AP/Shutterstock

The original architecture

Soon, McDonald’s started popping up all over the United States. The McDonald brothers wanted the design of the building to highlight their Speedee Service System—what we call fast food. Customers were serviced at large windows in the front of the building. The exterior of the first restaurants was red and white with two golden arches on the side to make the roof look less flat. One of the last standing red and white McDonald’s still serves your favorite McDonald’s treats in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Here’s what the first McDonald’s menu looked like.

Staff Working In The Kitchen Of Mcdonalds Restaurant In Woolwich - 1974Associated Newspapers/Shutterstock

Older uniforms

McDonald’s staff working in the kitchen in 1974. Their uniforms have changed a lot over the years, especially the hats. The menu has changed a lot too! This is what the very first McDonald’s menu ever looked like.

A 1977 Mcdonald's Restaurant Menu.Associated Newspapers/Shutterstock

Paper menus

This McDonald’s menu from 1977 shows how different the restaurants display their food options today. Today, many have digital screens that rotate images to show all the options on their menu. Here is what the McDonald’s menu looked like the year you were born.

MCDONALD'S OPENS IN MOSCOW, MOSCOW, Russian FederationAP/Shutterstock

New Design

In 1969 McDonald’s switched the structure of their restaurants to feature the Mansard Roof. The design is featured on the first franchise that opened in Moscow, Russia in 1990. Crowds line up outside to get their first taste of a Big Mac. To learn more about the chain, check out these mind-blowing facts about McDonald’s.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing for rd.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.