McDonald’s is probably the most recognized fast food chain in the world. For decades American kids have been pestering their parents to take them there for some tasty burgers and fries. Many locations offer playgrounds where kids can work off some of the excess calories, but the kids just know they’re having fun. It seems like we’re never very far from a McDonald’s restaurant and we usually know where the closest one is from our home. This familiarity makes them comfortable places to visit where you can expect consistent if not great food. McDonald’s offers a wide range of choices from Big Macs and fries to grilled chicken sandwiches and salads.
10. Paper or Plastic?
As the fight over plastic bags at grocery stores still rages a new front has opened up: plastic drinking draws. This ubiquitous convenience has drawn fire recently as a threat to the environment. A viral video featured on social media that shows a turtle with a plastic straw wedged in its nose helped to thrust the issue into the public consciousness. McDonald’s recently announced that all its stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland will be switching from plastic to paper straws. The move is scheduled to happen as soon as September and McDonald’s says it was largely driven by customer opinion. Some customers rely on straws more than other and were concerned that straws would be dropped from stores outright. However, news of the paper straw option has helped to put may of their concerns at ease. Reaction to the paper straws’ performance has been mixed with some complaints about their lack of durability. McDonald’s has indicated that this switch to paper straws will eventually be implemented in other parts of Europe as well as the United States. The fast food chain has also said it plans to use some of its locations to test market the practice of providing straws only when requested by customers. Straws are a convenience customers have gotten used to and McDonald’s seems to have come up with workable solutions.
Many McDonald’s fans look forward to March because March means St. Patrick’s Day and that means Shamrock Shakes. The frosty treat is made with vanilla soft serve and green, mint flavored syrup. When the Shamrock Shake was first introduced in 1970 it was lemon/lime flavored. The lemon/lime was later dropped in favor of vanilla, but eventually McDonald’s settled on the familiar mint taste we know today. For a while a green McDonald’s mascot known as Uncle O’Grimacey was used to market the shakes, but the chain has since moved away from its colorful collection of characters that also included Mayor McCheese and the Hamburglar. Shamrock Shakes are available in the United States, Canada and Ireland, but you might have to do a little bit of research because this seasonal treat isn’t offered at every McDonald’s location. Some critics have complained that McDonald’s shakes are not made with real ice cream. This is true, but the soft serve used in the shakes delivers a refreshing and tasty treat that blends nicely with the mint flavored syrup. If you give a Shamrock Shake a try you just might find yourself with a tasty St. Patrick’s Day tradition.
8. No Experience Required
McDonald’s restaurants are everywhere and all these locations need to be staffed by a team of employees. Many of these employees are teenagers getting their first job experience. The fast food chain has a history of hiring young people with little or no experience and turning them into competent workers who perform what can be a thankless job. Anyone who has worked in the service industry knows that dealing with customers can be tricky. Some customers can be demanding or just rude, but for the most part McDonald’s employees handle customers in a professional manner. The experience of working in the service industry where you sharpen your interpersonal skills is a valuable part of building a resume. The young McDonald’s employees can take this experience with them when they apply for other jobs. McDonald’s has a reputation for being supportive of its employees and this includes making an effort to schedule shifts around school and other responsibilities. These young McDonald’s employees learn to get to work on time and stick to a work schedule. While this sounds like basic stuff, these are important building blocks for a successful career later in life. A first job means a first pay check and earning their own money is a rewarding experience for young McDonald’s employees.
7. I Can Do This All Day
In 2015 McDonald’s decided to serve breakfast all day and although the move was met with some skepticism it has turned out to be a big success. McDonald’s spokesman explained that this menu change has been a big customer request for a long time and the chain decided to finally make it happen. Unfortunately for breakfast lovers the entire breakfast menu is not available all the time, but most of the favorites are featured including the Egg McMuffin, hot cakes and the crispy hash browns. Egg McMuffins are not available in parts of the south because biscuits are generally more popular than english muffins. This has caused some annoyance among McMuffin enthusiasts in the south, but otherwise customers seem to be genuinely pleased with the switch to all day breakfast. There is a lot of competition among fast food chains to be the choice for your morning coffee. Although popular coffee chains like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts get a lot of the attention, as loyal McDonald’s customers know, McDonald’s has been delivering good coffee to its customers for a long time. As an added bonus McDonald’s coffee will save you a few pennies as well. The McCafe menu also offers a selection delicious options besides regular coffee including cold brew frozen coffee and and Cappuccino. Having hash browns for lunch instead of the usual fries is now possible and McDonald’s customers are happy about it.
6. McClowning Around
Apparently a lot of people aren’t that fond of clowns, but how can they not love McDonald’s gregarious mascot, Ronald McDonald? The original Ronald McDonald was Willard Scott, who was a local television personality in Washington D.C. at the time. In 1963 Mr. Scott appeared in 3 separate television commercials as the the clown promoting McDonald’s restaurants. Ronald used to spend time with a collection of colorful mascots such as Grimace and the Fry Kids. They all lived in a fictional land known as McDonaldland, but most of this has been abandoned. In his heyday as many as 300 Ronald McDonalds’ were appearing regularly at store locations around the world. The clown was a crowd favorite who could be seen greeting customers and entertaining kids. The happy clown has also been known to make appearances at charity events, birthday parties and parades. The colorful character has become a bit of a popular culture icon who has appeared in movies, books and video games. However, it hasn’t been all good news for Ronald McDonald. A number of health advocacy groups have pressured the fast food chain to drop the clown as its mascot because the groups feel he encourages kids to eat unhealthy food. Hopefully Ronald McDonald will be sticking around for a while and continue to spread good cheer to kids who visit McDonald’s.
5. Play Time
It’s no secret that the majority of the menu items offered at McDonald’s are not the healthiest choices around. Fortunately most little kids like to run around and play which helps them burn off some of those excess calories. In 1987 McDonald’s introduced indoor and outdoor playgrounds called PlayPlaces. These colorful Playgrounds feature a combination of crawl-tubes, ball pits and slides and have been a big hit with kids. These features provide a lot of opportunities for kids to have fun while getting some valuable exercise. The cast of McDonaldland characters such as Hamburglar and Mayor McCheese are still featured in these play areas in different forms. These characters often appear as background images and in video games. McDonald’s PlayPlaces are recommended for children between 3 and 9 years old, but it’s unclear how aggressively this age policy is enforced. Parents have the option of reserving a nearby PlacePlace for their childrens’ birthday parties. McDonald’s provides the kids with Happy Meals and birthday cake as well as an assortment of party favors and decorations. If the kids are really lucky they might even get a visit from Ronald McDonald himself. McDonald’s combination of food and fun seems like a winning formula that makes kids want to go back for more.
4. Something For Everyone
McDonald’s is a highly successful international brand and it seems like the company would like to sell its food to everyone. The restaurant chain has continued to have a lot of success with its core menu items such as burgers, fries and soft drinks. However, this traditional menu has attracted quite a bit of criticism from some health advocates who frown upon the high salt and fat content in many of the items. McDonald’s has heard this criticism and responded effectively with a number of healthier options including grilled chicken sandwiches, salads, apple slices, oatmeal and bottled water. But no matter how much the menu is expanded to suit different tastes customer favorites like the Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, McGriddle and cheeseburger will continue to be the core items that drive McDonald’s profits. For those with a sweet tooth McDonald’s offers a choice of cool treats such as soft serve cones, shakes and soft serve sundaes with a choice of toppings. McDonald’s has also pushed into the highly competitive coffee drink market with its growing list of McCafe products. Coffee drinkers can order a number of choices that includes classic iced coffee, cappuccinos and sweet caramel mochas. Although McDonald’s experiment with selling pizza did not succeed the fast food chain has a good record of offering new menu items that keep customers coming back for more.
3. The House That Ronald Built
Ronald McDonald House Charities is an important organization that was created to raise money to help families with sick children. A Chief Accounting Officer for McDonald’s named Gerald Newman was one of the charities’ founding members and helped put the organization on the path to success. The first Ronald McDonald House was opened in Philadelphia in 1974 to provide families with temporary housing so they could be close to their children while they underwent treatment in nearby hospitals. These houses provide more than 7,000 rooms every night to parents around the world saving them the hassle of booking expensive hotel rooms. This important charity supports 366 houses in 42 countries that includes Canada, Thailand and Venezuela. In addition to the houses RMHC also provides a number of individual rooms at hospitals that parents can use so they can remain by their child’s bedside. The charity also funds mobile health clinics that are committed to focusing on basic pediatric care in areas that have limited access to medical services. The mobile clinics provide health screenings, immunizations, referrals and a range of other services. You might not have noticed them, but your local McDonald’s restaurants have donation boxes that support RMHC. The McDonald’s corporation and RMHC are proud that these donation boxes are the charities’ largest ongoing fundraising program.
2. The Ballad Of Big Mac
The double decker hamburger known as the Big Mac was created by a McDonald’s store owner in the Pittsburg area in 1968. The burger was such a hit that the fast chain began offering the new sandwich nationwide in 1969. An enterprising young advertising secretary came up with the name “Big Mac” after two less compelling names for the new burger failed to catch on with the public. An early television advertisement featured a now forgotten song called “The Ballad of Big Mac.” Perhaps the most famous piece of Big Mac marketing was the 1974 jingle that used the memorable line “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – on a sesame seed bun.”This line effectively sums up why customers fell in love with the Big Mac. The tasty burger was created to go up against Big Boy Restaurant’s Big Boy burger and if you’ve had both of them then you know just how similar the two burgers are. A lot of attention has been paid to the Big Mac’s so-called “secret sauce,” but McDonald’s has admitted that the sauce is simply the fast food chain’s own take on Thousand Island dressing. Several variations of the Big Mac have been offered such as the Double Mac, which has 4 beef patties instead of the standard 2 patties. The Chicken Big Mac is made with a pair of breaded chicken patties instead of beef and has proved to be especially popular in countries like Egypt and Kuwait. McDonald’s customers with somewhat smaller appetites can still get their Big Mac fix by choosing the single patty Mac Jr.
1. Over 99 Billion Sold
like many businesses McDonald’s has kept a close eye on its sales figures so it can track how well its products are performing. The fast food chain claims it sold its 100 millionth hamburger in 1958. In 1994 the tally reached an unbelievable 99 billion, but McDonald’s decided to stop posting updated sales figures so now it boasts: “over 99 billion sold.” Regardless of the actual number of sandwiches customers have bought we know it has been enough to have made the fast food chain a global brand. McDonald’s has grown from a single restaurant into a franchise empire with 35,000 locations in more than 100 countries around the world. When the McDonald brothers agreed to let Ray Kroc franchise their fast food restaurant it unleashed a phenomenon that continues to evolve and endure. The franchise strives to deliver decent food to its customers in a timely fashion whether you walk in or use the drive thru window. The company prides itself on its ability to deliver consistency to its customers, but this has not been achieved by accident. It has been the result of mastering complex logistics on a large scale and making use of the latest food preparation techniques. McDonald’s has long recognized the importance of effectively marketing its products to a wide range of people. The popular value menu, Ronald McDonald and the catchy jingles are all pieces of a marketing strategy to convince people of all ages that McDonald’s has something for them. As times and tastes continue to change McDonald’s has repeatedly shown the ability to adapt and keep its place at the top of the fast food chain.