As one of the biggest fast-food chains in the world, McDonald’s is bound to be talked about a lot. While you might know the menu like the back of your hand, there are still some fascinating things about the Golden Arches you may not be aware of. Here are the Top 10 McDonald’s FACTS You Won’t Believe Are Actually True (Part 2)
10. Started Out As A BBQ Joint
It might be hard to picture the burger giant serving anything other than Big Macs and chicken nuggets, but back when it first started, McDonald’s menu was in a totally different stratosphere. In 1940, McD’s began when brothers, Richard and Maurice McDonald, opened up the first McDonald’s restaurant—a BBQ joint, located on 14th and E street in San Bernardino, California. The menu consisted of barbecue – slow-cooked for hours in a pit stocked with hickory chips, and served out of the tiny restaurant, with no indoor dining and only a few stools outside serving as decor. They even hired carhops to speed up the process. But, as the drive-in competition grew after WWII, the McDonald brothers decided to rethink their business model. In the process, they discovered that 80% of their sales came from hamburgers, so in 1948, they ditched their BBQ menu and put all their eggs in the “burgers” basket. They simplified their menu – hamburgers, soft drinks, french fries, and milkshakes, and they were back in business. The “Speedee Service System,” based on speed, lower prices, and volume, was born and became the new standard for fast-food restaurants across California, and eventually, around the world. What was once a tiny BBQ stand just off Route 66 is now a multinational corporation that keeps growing every day.
9. There Are Many McDonald’s
This probably isn’t so much of a surprise – everybody knows McDonald’s has been growing like weeds for ages – but what most people don’t know is just how many McDonald’s are actually out there. It seems like no matter where you go or where you look, those Golden Arches are always there, with open doors, ready to welcome you. That’s a very normal observation, especially when you look at the numbers. For starters, there are McDonald’s restaurants in over 100 countries with a total of almost 40,000 locations. That right there is an accomplishment on its own. Picture this: there are more McDonald’s locations than hospitals in the United States. There is really no escaping this fast food giant. Apparently, no matter where you live in the US, you are never more than 115 miles away from getting your hands on a Big Mac. But that’s not all. According to data from 2014, a new McDonald’s opens every 14.5 hours around the world. With that much growth, no wonder we see the arches everywhere! The arrival of the pandemic last year only caused a small dent in the chain’s profits, and it only shut down around 200 locations. It’s fair to assume that McDonald’s will keep growing and Ronald will keep doling out Big Macs to a devoted public.
8. McDonald’s Worldwide Are Pretty Different
When you go to your local McDonald’s, you know what to expect. From the menu to the decor, you’ve grown used to everything. Even if you visit one out of town, it’ll always be pretty much the same. But, if you leave the country, get ready to be quite disoriented – especially when it comes to the menu. While many international McDonald’s still serve the same, iconic burgers and fries, they’ll also offer items that reflect local culture. For instance, if you go to Germany, you’ll find they’ve added bratwurst to their menu, including the nurnburger and everything from vegan burgers to surf and turf. In Italy, you’ll find more cheese options, including an entire block of Parmigiano Reggiano. Also, if you travel to the Philippines, you can feast on the McSpaghetti along with a piece of fried chicken. You can have a McFalafel and McKebab in Israel. And in Singapore, you’ll be regaled with the McRice burger, where rice patties have replaced the bread buns. If you go to a McDonald’s abroad, you’ll also have the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and try a crazy looking McFlurry or a weird-flavored burger!
7. You Can Get Married There
Yes, you heard that right; you can tie the knot while chowing down McNuggets. I mean, who wouldn’t want to celebrate their big day in the dining room of a McDonald’s! However, if this sounds like your dream wedding, you’re going to have to do a little bit of traveling in order to walk down the McAisle. In Hong Kong, ever since 2011, some McDonald’s offer custom wedding packages, which are surprisingly pretty affordable. It started out as a small 3 location operation, but the demand was so high, it prompted an expansion of 15 outlets. Planning a wedding can be very expensive, but at McDonald’s, you can get your happily ever after for as little as $600. The Happiness Party, aka the cheapest package, includes a two-hour venue rental, basic audio equipment, and a party MC. If you’re willing to pay a little more, you can get the Love Forever Party, which is the full McDonald’s experience. For around $2,000, you will get the same as the basic package, as well as a pair of McDonald’s balloon wedding rings, a bridal bouquet, also made from balloons, 50 invites, guest favors, and a bunch of decorations. But, the best part? You will also be given a tiered apple pie cake display! We’d like to see a wedding cake measure up to that! There’s nothing like saying “I do” holding a balloon bouquet, surrounded by the smell of burgers – and they say romance is dead.
6. Biggest Purchasers In The World
It goes without saying: McDonald’s serves a lot of people – like a lot. In fact, McDonald’s gets around 68 million customers every single day – not too shabby. Plus, ever since its founding, the chain has served an estimated 300 billion hamburgers and serves about 9 million pounds of fries globally every day, which adds up to about 4 trillion fries since their debut. With that in mind, it’s easy to assume that the chain needs to buy a whole lot of ingredients in order to keep up with demand. With all those customers and all those locations, McDonald’s now has the title of the biggest purchaser of beef, pork, potatoes, lettuce, and tomatoes in the world, and the second-biggest buyer of chicken, right after KFC. Plus, thanks to Happy Meal apple slices and baked apple pies, McDonald’s has also become the biggest buyer of apples in the United States. As for the best-selling item, it might be fair to think Big Macs are the star of the show, but, in reality, French fries are the number-one selling item across the world. Every year, McDonald’s buys around 3.4 billion pounds of potatoes. And to think – they weren’t even part of the original menu.
5. A Salad Bar?
When you go to McD’s, you know exactly what you sign up for – a greasy, calorie laden meal you most likely won’t mention to your doctor. However, in response to the world growing more health-conscious and in an attempt to be more “modern and progressive,” McDs in Hong Kong came up with “McDonald’s Next!” This new concept includes a new healthy, gourmet-style fast-food menu with vegetarian-friendly options. Mickey D’s has traded its neon red and yellow decor and fluorescent lighting for a black-and-white logo, ambient lighting, and glass and metallic interiors. Along with all of the sophisticated decor is another surprise: a salad bar! Yes, a salad bar at McDonald’s! It includes an impressive selection of 19 ingredients, including leafy greens, cheese, sauces, and a current favorite, quinoa. It seems like the chain is also trying to elevate the overall fast-food experience by offering table service after 6 p.m and premium coffee blends. There is also a special “Create Your Taste” customizable burger option, self-service kiosks, phone-charging stations, and free Wi-Fi. There are no words yet on whether or not “McDonald’s Next” will expand on a more global scale, but all we can do is hope it comes to America!
4. The Nuggets Have Names
Whether you had them as a kid or still indulge in them today, you’re probably pretty familiar with these little chunks of heaven. Chicken McNuggets have been a fan favorite ever since their debut in 1981 and are still one of the top 10 most popular items sold at McDonald’s. But have you ever noticed their shapes? How they always seem to be the same? Well, as it turns out, there are 4 distinct McNugget shapes – and they all have a specific name. The shapes are known as the Boot, the Ball, the Bow-Tie, and the Bell. The Bell is the one with a traditional bell shape and one side shorter than the other. The Ball is a simple circle, the Bow-Tie splits on one end, and the Boot strangely resembles the state of Florida. Obviously, no matter which nugget shape you get, they’re all delicious and fit nicely into the sauce cups to ensure maximum dunkability. McDonald’s follows the same pattern for all of its nuggets to make sure the chicken is cooked thoroughly and evenly. It also makes it easier to fry the breading consistently. The nuggets are pressed out with a rolling cookie cutter at a production facility before being battered, partially fried, frozen, and shipped off to each location. Apparently, the chain decided on the magic number “4” because 3 would’ve been too few and 5 would’ve been too many. Makes sense to us.
3. It’s Really Well-Known
As the world’s 9th most valuable brand, the Golden Arches are extremely popular. But, how famous are we talking about here? How about more recognizable than the Holy Cross? Indeed, according to a survey of 7,000 people in six countries done by Sponsorship Research International, people around the world can recognize McDonald’s Golden Arches more easily than the Christian cross. 88 percent were able to identify the arches and only 54 percent recognized the cross. So, when you think about it, it’s like saying that Ronald McDonald is more famous than Jesus, which is kind of a big deal. Speaking of, Ronald, McDonald’s mascot, also gets his fair share of recognition. According to Fast Food Nation, written by Eric Schlosser, 96 percent of American schoolchildren are able to identify Ronald McDonald. The only other fictional character to have a higher degree of recognition? Santa Claus. That makes Ronald the second most famous fictional character in America. In Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary, Super Size Me, school kids all knew who Ronald McDonald was but mistook an image of Jesus for George W. Bush. It says a lot about the impact fast food has on our society, that’s for sure.
2. Double Meaning Of The Golden M
You don’t become the most recognizable brand in the world by accident. While McDonald’s logo might seem like an innocent “M”, there’s a little more to the story behind the Golden Arches. It’s a bit more seductive than you might have thought. The very famous and very widespread logo symbolizes maternal love, as in a pair of two breasts. It might sound a little strange and even borderline vulgar to some, but when you put it in perspective, it all makes sense. The arches are meant to create a comforting space to eat your meal. The BBC even confirmed the double meaning when a psychologist recommended keeping the branding. But that’s not the only interesting bit about McDonald’s logo. It also uses color technology to catch customers’ eyes, even from miles away. The two main colors are red and yellow, two bright colors that were not chosen lightly. Red is used to trigger stimulation, appetite, and hunger and attract a lot of attention. As for yellow – or gold – it’s one of the most visible colors in daylight. The combination communicates speed and quickness and was basically designed to make you salivate as soon as you see a location. The Golden arches work because they’re easy to remember, they’re huge, and they’ve become a true icon.
1. It Used To Be Buddies With Chipotle
McDonald’s is one of the most successful burger joints in history, and Chipotle is one of the most successful Tex-Mex chains. With that in mind, it makes sense to think these two used to work together. Actually, McDonald’s had a hand in Chipotle’s major success. That’s right! McDonald’s started investing in Chipotle at the very beginning, all the way back in 1998, when it only had 16 locations. By 2006, McD’s owned over 90% of the chain, which had by then grown to 500 locations. However, that same year, McDonald’s sold back its stake in order to concentrate on its own growth. Supposedly, the end of the partnership was also due to a lack of middle ground between the two chains and a lot of rejected new business ideas. McDonald’s wanted Chipotle to add drive-thrus, franchise restaurants, and serve breakfast, but Chipotle was not on board with the idea. They also wanted them to re-brand the name as “Chipotle Fresh,” but they saw it as a forced, “telling, not showing” naming choice. Since it’s split with McDonald’s, the chain has expanded to over 2000 locations and continues to grow, all on its own. But still, next time you’re munching on a tasty burrito bowl, you might want to throw a mental “thank you” to McDonald’s.