McDonald’s is one of the biggest companies in the world. The business that began nearly a whole century ago as a hamburger stand now serves more than 69 million customers every day in a grand total of over 100 countries across the globe. As we saw in the movie The Founder starring Michael Keaton, the company was started in Illinois by the McDonald brothers and eventually bought by a business mogul Ray Kroc, who turned it into the fast food chain with the highest amount of revenue in the world. Now, the McDonald’s corporation sells its products at over 40,000 locations across the world. A 2012 report by the BBC found that McDonald’s is the second biggest private employer on the globe with 1.9 million employees – no joksee! It’s second only to Walmart. McDonald’s is huge. Everyone in the world loves Big Macs and Quarter Pounders and Chicken Selects and Chicken McNuggets and their particularly crispy French fries – seriously, they have a lot of delicious food. However, despite the fast food chain’s popularity, there are a lot of dark secrets that the company is either hiding or people just ignore, because they love the food so darn much. Here are 10 facts about McDonald’s that will shock you!
10. McDonald’s employ more people than the population of Phoenix
With 1.9 million employees, more people have a job at a McDonald’s restaurant than live in the city of Phoenix, Arizona. It’s also more than the population of Philadelphia, the population of San Antonio, the population of San Diego – point is, it’s a large amount of people. They have a lot of employees. Like, a huge amount. The second biggest amount of any private employer on the planet after Walmart, actually. McDonald’s is a gigantic company. That can’t be stressed enough. They have more locations across the globe than Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, and Arby’s all combined. McDonald’s opened almost as many new locations in 2013 as Chipotle have in their entire chain. They reportedly sell 75 hamburgers every second. Every second! Can you believe that? That’s 4,500 hamburgers every minute. It’s 270,000 hamburgers an hour! And 6,480,000 a day, 45,360,000 a week, 2,358,720,000 a year – that’s a heck of a lot of hamburger sales! That’s how they can afford to employ more people than the population of Phoenix. And funnily enough, the first McDonald’s restaurant with the Golden Arches logo on it was in Phoenix. It’s fun how things can sometimes come full circle (or two semi-circles) like that.
9. McDonald’s is the world’s biggest toy distributor
If someone asked you what was the biggest toy distribution company in the world, you might guess Hasbro or Lego or Mattel or Playskool or something like that. And then if someone told you that the company was not exclusively a toy company, then you might guess Disney. But you’d probably take a few guesses before landing on McDonald’s. And yet, if you did guess McDonald’s, you’d be right! Thanks to the toys that it gives away with its Happy Meals – which are just crummy little plastic things, but since they come with a meal and you don’t expect anything out of them, they can be a lot of fun – McDonald’s is the biggest distributor of toys in the whole world. There’s a toy in 15% of all the sales of McDonald’s food. That means that, going off the rough estimation that they serve 69 million meals a day (which, by the way, means that they feed about 1% of the Earth’s population at any given time), McDonald’s distributes 900,000 toys every single day. Not even Hasbro or Lego or Mattel or Playskool or Disney can claim to those kinds of figures. McDonald’s truly is a one of a kind company.
8. No one knows where the Golden Arches logo came from
The Golden Arches logo that is the defining image of the McDonald’s brand is one of the most recognizable symbols on the planet, and yet, no one really knows where it came from. Two brothers named Richard and Maurice McDonald realized in the 1950s as their business was growing that they would need to design a logo, so that their customers could recognize when they were passing by a McDonald’s restaurant. Brother Richard hashed out a quick sketch that involved two semi-circles. Then architect Stanley Clark Meston was selected to turn the rough sketch into a logo design out of a total of four interviewees. Meston and his assistant Charles Fish developed this little doodle of two semi-circles into what would eventually become the McDonald’s logo as we know it today. But no one knows whose idea it actually was. Architectural expert Alan Hess (picture a real life Ted Mosby) said that Meston and Fish turned the design into “a tapered, sophisticated parabola, with tense, springing lines conveying movement and energy.” However, he added, “who first suggested the parabola is unclear.” So, they’ve got one of the most recognizable images ever created and they don’t know who to attribute it to.
7. McDonald’s once owned Chipotle
It’s hard to believe that McDonald’s once owned the Mexican fast food restaurant chain Chipotle, but it’s true. Back when Chipotle was started out in the ‘90s and they only had fourteen locations, McDonald’s invested in what they saw as a “distraction” from their own business and helped it to expand its reach to a lovely 460 locations. Now, since McDonald’s sold its 90% share of the company back in 2006, Chipotle has well over 1,000 locations and is still going strong. Gretchen Selfridge, the COO of Chipotle, has since opened up about the McDonald’s shareholders’ input into their business. According to Selfridge, the top McDonald’s brass were basically trying to turn Chipotle into McDonald’s. They wanted to implement all the features and selling points of a McDonald’s restaurant into the Chipotle restaurants, but Selfridge says that the Chipotle bosses just weren’t interested in doing any of them. Selfridge explained in an interview with Bloomberg, “Bless their hearts, McDonald’s had a lot of great suggestions, and we were always polite about it. They really wanted us to do drive-thrus. They really wanted us to do breakfast. But we just really didn’t do any of that.” It’s weird. It’s like if Subway owned Burger King and wanted them to do turkey sandwiches.
6. A woman once sued McDonald’s for serving her coffee that was too hot
In a highly publicized 1994 court cased termed Stella Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants, an old lady (79 years old at the time) named Stella Liebeck sued McDonald’s for serving her a cup of coffee that was too hot. Liebeck was promised $2.86 million by the original trial, but only ended up getting $640,000. In the media, it was used as a prime example of frivolous litigation and described by ABC News as “the poster child of excessive lawsuits.” However, as argued by a 2011 HBO documentary movie about the case and legal scholar Jonathan Turley, there was a need for a lawsuit, since the coffee was excessively hot. She spent eight days in hospital and underwent skin grafting after spilling it on herself. The case was made fun of in a Seinfeld storyline in which Kramer spills some hot coffee on himself and gets his lawyer Jackie Chiles to (successfully) sue the coffee shop chain that sold it to him. Kramer explains to Jerry, “The coffee was too hot.” Jerry says, “It’s supposed to be hot!” But Kramer claims, “Not that hot!” That’s essentially the entire claim of the Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants summed up in three lines of dialogue.
5. There is hardly any chicken in a Chicken McNugget
This should come as no surprise, but there is hardly any chicken content in a Chicken McNugget. The McDonald’s website claims that their nuggets are “made with 100% USDA Grade A chicken,” but there’s no accounting for how much of that is actually quality breast meat, and one report has that figure at just 45%. So, less than half of an innocent little Chicken McNugget is actually made of real, good quality chicken meat. Yikes. And not only do the Chicken McNuggets contain barely any chicken, but they’re also rammed with chemicals that give you the impressive that they’re ‘fresh’ pieces of chicken. They need to do this, because they keep them in the freezer until they run out of McNuggets out in the kitchen and someone orders some. Seriously, imagine what Gordon Ramsay would have to say if he had a poke around in the kitchen of a McDonald’s restaurant. He’d have a heart attack! TBHQ (t-butylhydroquinone) is one of the chemicals used to play God and unnaturally preserve the McNuggets, and it contains acetone, alcohol, and ethyl acetate. Studies have found that TBHQ is totally unsafe for consumption. It leads to, among other things, vision impairment, liver enlargement, and paralysis. So, apparently, if you eat enough Chicken McNuggets, you’ll go blind, your liver will explode, and you will be paralyzed.
4. McDonald’s salads are worse than their Big Macs
McDonald’s didn’t have any healthy foods whatsoever when they first began. It was a fast food place. It was a burger restaurant. It was where you went to buy unhealthy food. If you wanted healthy food, like a salad or some fruit, then you had to go to a different place – a place that does specialize in those things. But then some people got angry and upset that they couldn’t get healthy foods at McDonald’s, so McDonald’s had to add salads and other healthy items to their menu. Standup comedian Bill Burr has a great rant about this in one of his specials. It’s so stupid! If you want something healthy, don’t eat at McDonald’s. It’s that simple. But still, people were up in arms and they had to put salads on their menu. However, the next time you’re in McDonald’s, if you’re conscious about health concerns and want to go for the (slightly) healthier option, you’d be better off getting a Big Mac than a salad. Seriously, the salads at McDonald’s contain more calories, fat, and salt than the hamburgers! The kale salad at McDonald’s literally contains more calories, fat, and sodium than a Double Big Mac burger. Is that supposed to be some kind of tongue in cheek practical joke?
3. McDonald’s Monopoly is a giant scam
The McDonald’s Monopoly game is a lot of addictive fun. Players head to McDonald’s as often as they can in order to get their hands on as many game pieces and prizes as they can. They keep little collections in the hopes of winning a ton of money and stuff. But for years, the more astute McDonald’s customers have been questioning whether this game is legit or just another marketing ploy that is ultimately a scam. Although the company claims to have “a rigorous and thorough security protocol in place” to prevent Monopoly-related scams from happening. But still, of course, they do. However, between 1995 and 2000, an outside contractor named Jerome P. Jacobson who worked for Simon Marketing, the firm that McDonald’s hired to help with their Monopoly promotions, was taking all the most valuable game pieces from the McDonald’s Monopoly and sharing the proceeds among his buddies and co-workers. Over the course of those five years, while McDonald’s customers were falling for the marketing ploy and buying as many meals as they could in a desperate attempt to win prizes, Jacobson and his cohorts had already made off with all of the best ones and banked more than $24 million.
2. Big Macs need the pickles to avoid being a dessert
You know how there continue to be pickles on Big Macs, even though nobody likes them? Well, apparently, that’s because if they weren’t on there, the percentage of sugar in a Big Mac would technically classify it as a dessert. There are 8 grams of sugar in a Big Mac. The McDonald’s website claims that this sugar is in the Big Mac for the bun only. “Most of this sugar is found in the bun. Sugar is a traditional ingredient used when making bread, providing food for the yeast and assisting with the browning, texture, and volume of the bun.” To be fair, this does make a lot of sense, since a Big Mac is mostly bun. It’s not just the bun on the top and the bottom – there’s a middle piece between the two patties, too. Still, 8 grams of sugar in three pieces of bread? That seems a little excessive. So, imagine that. Big Mac burgers have been sweetened so much that they are virtually a dessert. In fact, if you take the pickles off – which everybody does, because let’s face it, the pickles suck – it is a dessert! People will still eat them with that knowledge, because they’re tasty, but it is weird.
1. One psychologist thinks the Golden Arches look like boobs
The Golden Arches logo of the McDonald’s fast food chain is one of the most widely recognized brand images on the planet. In fact, it’s recognized by even more people than the cross – like, the one that Jesus Christ died for our sins on. That cross. Seriously. John Lennon is often misquoted as saying that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, but McDonald’s – or at least its logo – literally is bigger than Jesus. It’s been statistically proven. But a clinical psychologist named Louis Cheskin has a rather unusual idea about why we find that logo so great. He believes that the Golden Arches on a McDonald’s restaurant are essentially, to the unconscious parts of our minds, “mother McDonald’s breasts” that set off “Freudian applications to the subconscious mind of the consumer.” So, in other words, the Golden Arches on a McDonald’s outlet remind us of our mom’s boobs and therefore make us feel safe about going in there and purchasing some food – we feel nurtured by “mother McDonald’s breasts” in the same way that we used to feel nurtured by our own mother’s breasts when we were babies. That’s some deep, dark, psychological stuff for a simplistic, recognizable brand image.