Food - General
By: - at July 13, 2015

15 Little Known Facts About McDonald’s

It began in 1940, when brothers Maurice and Richard McDonald established the very McDonald's restaurant. It was located in San Bernardino, California and was called the McDonald Brothers Burger Bar Drive-In.

first Mcdonald's

In 1954, businessman Ray Kroc came along and purchased the business from the brothers, with the objective of taking the company global. It wasn’t long before he’d not only achieved his goal but also turned the company into a commercial and cultural machine that was internationally recognized and embraced by people from all walks of life. Nowadays, the business generates around $30 billion a year. Still, as ubiquitous and recognizable as the brand of McDonald’s is there’s quite a lot that many people don’t know about this iconic company.

Kosher McDonald's
Kosher McDonald's
By סוצאנג via Wikimedia Commons

15)  McDonald’s is the Main Distributor of Toys in the World
It may not be surprising to discover that McDonald’s plays a big part in toy distribution throughout the world, given the popularity and success of the Happy Meal and the toys that come with it. It is perhaps, however, surprising to know that McDonald’s are in fact the biggest distributor of toys in the world. They even distribute more toys than Toys R’ Us.

By EyOne via Wikimedia Commons

Typically, McDonald’s distributes around 1.5 billion toys throughout the world per year. This is largely to do with the fact that since the introduction of the Happy Meal in 1979, 20% of McDonald’s sales have been made up of the meal that have always come complete with toys.

14)  The Sale of the McRib is Based on Pork Prices Not Demand
In 2011, website TheAwl revealed to that there is a direct correlation with McDonald’s release of their pork burger the McRib and the price of pork – namely, that the McRib was only available when the general price of pork was low. Typically, the McRib would be available in McDonald’s restaurants in October of every year, which was also the time of the year when pork prices were generally low.


It could easily have been written up as a coincidence were it not for the fact that in 2011 a memo was leaked from McDonald’s headquarters that specified that for that year the McRib’s released would be delayed until December, which for the year 2011 was the same period during which pork prices were going to be at their lowest.

Given how beloved McRib is amongst McDonald’s loyal customers, many consumers were outraged that the company would take such extreme measures to save what for the multi-billion dollar company would be relatively little, while dismissing their customers’ interests.

13)  Justin Timberlake Produced McDonald’s ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ Jingle
Love him of hate him, you’ve got to admit that Justin Timberlake has talent. The quality of his music might be debatable, but there’s no denying that he can dance and even act. He can also write catchy jingles. In 2003, Timberlake produced the song ‘I'm Lovin’ It’, which McDonald's utilized for what would prove to be one of their most successful publicity campaigns ever. Timberlake received $6 million for the song, plus McDonald’s paid for a music tour.

By Alex Neman via Wikimedia Commons

12)  There’s a Fake McDonald’s Purely For TV and Film Productions
The City of Industry in Los Angeles consists of around 2,500 businesses but only a little over 200 residents. As the names suggests, it is predominately an industrial area that is and has been used for many years as a backdrop for a number of film and television productions.

Puente Hills Mall
By Byronstorm via Wikimedia Commons

The Puente Hills Mall located in the area was featured in the ‘Back to the Future’ movie series, while an entertainment center in the area called the SpeedZone was used to film a scene in Kevin Smith's ‘Clerks II’ (2006). A former IKEA store was also utilized for the elaborate final fight scene in ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’ (2005).

While these locations were made to look like location other than what they really are, one establishment in the area is exactly what it looks like – that is, a fake McDonald’s, which is complete with furniture and uniforms. The restaurant is only ever used to produce films, television and commercials and has been used in numerous productions over the years.

11)  There Is a Legitimate Reason Breakfast Can’t Be Served All Day
It is a pet peeve for many fast food customers throughout the world that they can’t get something from McDonald’s breakfast menu after 11am. Most people assume that it’s just the staff being lazy, but there is actually a legitimate reason why the staff can’t serve items from the breakfast menu throughout the day.

Egg McMuffin Breakfast Sandwich
Egg McMuffin Breakfast Sandwich

It all has to do with the temperature of the grills in the restaurants. Once the breakfast menu is over with, the grills are set to the temperature required to cook the beef patties for their hamburgers. The temperature is dramatically different to temperature required to cook eggs.

Sausage Egg McMuffin
Sausage Egg McMuffin

Given that whole premise of the business is fast food, McDonald’s staff simply don’t have the time, kitchen space or equipment to have a variety of grills going at once at totally different temperatures in order to cook both eggs and beef patties.

There are a few notable exceptions, however. In Hong Kong, McMuffin sandwiches are available all day, because their restaurants feature far more items on their general menu that have eggs in them, so their restaurants are specifically designed to have separate grills for beef and eggs throughout the day.

10)  McDonald’s Turned Down More Applicants Than Harvard
McDonald’s is the place where many Americans get their first job. It’s generally not pretty but it provides young workers with a good introduction to the workforce. In 2011, however, there were much more than simply high school and college kids applying for positions in the company throughout the year. This was because of the fact that the economy was struggling and everybody, regardless of age, was desperate for a job – any job.

By RaphaelQS via Wikimedia Commons

McDonald’s had seemed like the perfect option, given that their jobs have the reputation that they are easy to get (because they pay so little). For the year of 2011, however, this was not the case. Jobs in the company were in such demand that they held a National Hiring Day, after which McDonald's rejected 93.8% of those who applied. Ultimately, they rejected a higher per cent of applicants than Harvard did that year, which rejected 93% of those who applied.

By Annette Bernhardt via Wikimedia Commons

9)  McDonald’s Original Bookkeeper Was Paid in Shares, Making Her a Millionaire
Back when McDonald’s first began in the 1940s, it looked like it would be a solid company, but no one expected it would be the commercial and cultural phenomenon it would ultimately become. Not even the owners dreamed of the success the restaurant would have, hence why they sold the company to Ray Kroc. From the very begin of his reign, Kroc aspired to make McDonald’s the global brand it would ultimately become. He didn’t and couldn’t have done it alone, though.

Ray Kroc in 1954
Ray Kroc

A key figure in Kroc’s success was his bookkeeper, June Martino who worked practically for free for around nine months after Kroc took over. Moreover, she was instrumental in selling the brand, as she had a knack for convincing loyal customers to become franchisees, thus resulting in the company’s early expansion.


Due to her years of service and sacrifice, Kroc repaid Martino with $300,000 in 1965 (the equivalent of around $1.7 million today), when the business was publicly listed. Furthermore, he gave her $5 million in holdings, which is now worth nearly $30 million.

8)  There Is a Unique Menu Item at McDonald’s in Every Country
What with McDonald’s being a global brand, with restaurants in amongst every country, it’s understandable that their menus are specifically tailored to the country in which their business is located. As such, every country has at least one item on their menu that is unique to that specific nation.

McDonald's in Qatar
McDonald's in Qatar
By Vincent van Zeijst via Wikimedia Commons

While some items relate to the cultural aspect of the country in question – like the Chicken Maharaja in India, which was developed because they don’t sell beef products in Indian McDonald’s for religious reasons – other unique menu items are things that probably wouldn’t take off anywhere else. For example, Portugal McDonald’s sell Caldo Verde soup and in Hong Kong, McDonald’s Red Bean Pie is for dessert.

McDonald's in IFC Mall, Hong Kong
McDonald's Hong Kong

Perhaps the only unique menu item that might sell in a variety of other countries (and do so extremely well) would be Germany’s, which is beer.

7)  Not All of McDonald’s Arches Are Golden
McDonald’s Golden Arches are an icon throughout the world. A study once found that the arches are even more recognizable than the crucifix, which is symbolic of the religions Christianity and Catholicism. There is typically little to no variation in the design of the arches across the world, with the exception of a few minor features – Canadian McDonald’s feature a small maple leaf, while New York’s Times Square features a McDonald’s with the arches in neon lights.

McDonald's in Toronto, Ontario
McDonald'sToronto, Ontario
By Sinn via Wikimedia Commons

However, even when they have slight variations in design, almost all McDonald’s arches throughout the world a golden. Notable exceptions to this rule include a McDonald’s in Paris, France, which has white arches. Another McDonald’s in Sedona, Arizona features green arches, coupled with a completely different all-round color scheme for the restaurant.

6)  Ray Kroc Served in Wartime With Walt Disney
Nowadays, McDonald’s and the Disney Corporation have a strong working relationship, with McDonald’s commonly promoting the latest Disney children’s movie through their Happy Meals. While the working relationship dates back to 1997, when the first McDonald’s opened at the Walt Disney World Resort, the personal relationship between Ray Kroc and Walt Disney dates all the way back to World War I.

Walt Disney in Snow White Trailer Screenshot in 1937
Walt Disney

During the war both Kroc and Disney served as medical technicians at the same Red Cross unit. Following the war, the two separately created their own personal business empires.

French 87th Regiment, Verdun, 1916

The personal relationship continued over the years. Still, although they had always talked about joining forces, a working relationship never eventuated until the late 1990s.

5)  McDonald’s is in the Business of Real Estate Not Burgers
While the McDonald brothers who started the McDonald’s restaurant might have been in the business of food – in particular, hamburgers – Ray Kroc had other ideas. Once Kroc took over McDonald’s, his ambition was all about real estate.

In 1974, Kroc was speaking to a MBA class from the University of Texas when he asked them what they thought his business was all about. Naturally, everyone answered burgers. Kroc revealed that, no, actually his primary focus had always been real estate, specifically to sell as many of the franchises as he could, with a focus on obtaining the best possible location for a restaurant.

With his shrewd business mind, Kroc set in motion the business blueprint that now sees McDonald’s as the owner of the most amount of real estate in the world.

ray kroc

4)  McDonald’s Originally Didn’t Sell Fries
Beyond their hamburgers, McDonald’s is famous for their fries, so much so that many people mistakenly believe that the iconic golden arches of the business represent French fries in the shape of an M. In actuality McDonald’s didn’t even originally sell French fires at their restaurant, as they’re menu was pretty much hamburgers and drinks.

By Ka Ho Fa Yuen via Wikimedia Commons

The resemblance that the McDonald’s golden arches have to the French fries is purely coincidental. The M is simply based on the original design that Ray Kroc introduced when he bought the business from the McDonald brothers. The arches were made yellow purely for aesthetic purposes, in order to liven up the basic white and red design that the original business had.

Times Square Golden Arches
 Golden Arches
By Kenny Louie via Wikimedia Commons

3)  McDonald’s Uses Beef to Make Their French Fries
While at least some of McDonald’s consumes are aware of the fact that that the company uses beef tallow (rendered beef fat) to flavor its French fries, most people probably don’t. This fact was first revealed way back in 1990. Since then, the fact has been printed on their nutritional guide for their products. Fries also contain milk and wheat.

Beef Tallow
beef tallow
By FotoosvanRobin via Wikimedia Commons

Although McDonald’s has done everything short of actually advertising the fact that their French fries consist of beef, the issue has caused its share of controversy over the years. Back in 1990, when the fact first became public, Hindu vegetarians in India actually rioted, trashing a McDonald’s restaurant and smearing a Ronald McDonald statue with cow manure.


In 2001, when the issue again garnered public attention, a class action suit was brought against the company by irate vegetarians who had eaten the French fries thinking that they were vegetarian friendly.

2)  McDonald’s Paid Rappers to Mention Their Products in Their Music
Political correctness aside, it’s a brilliant business move to pay rappers to mention your product in their songs. Numerous rappers include brand names in their music purely for artistic reasons, without ever receiving or expecting payment for the advertising. In the past, brands like Gucci, Porsche and Bentley have benefited greatly from what amounts to free advertising through rap lyrics.

Black Porsche 991 GT3
Black Porsche 991 GT3
By Grand Parc via Wikimedia Commons

In 2005 McDonald’s came to an agreement with a number of high profile rap artists. Basically, the musicians would receive around $5 every time a song of theirs that referenced Big Macs was played in America.

McDonald's Big Mac
Big Mac

The marketing strategy was especially clever, because it was specifically targeting children at a time when McDonald’s was officially trying to make healthier menu items available, which they knew wouldn’t sell.

1)  McDonald’s Had to Donate Money to Get the Domain
Given the phenomenal success of McDonald’s – a company that has managed to corner almost every possible market there is in the world – it’s astounding to think that the business was somehow so oblivious to the advent of the internet that they failed to buy the domain name while it was available.

domain name

By the mid 1990s, the internet had been around a while and was significantly popular that most people would have simply assumed that McDonald’s had long since registered their domain name. In 1994, however, a writer for the electronics magazine ‘Wired’ noticed that the company’s domain name was still available for purchase – to anyone. Astounded, the ‘Wired’ employee bought the name just to make a point.


When McDonald’s finally noticed that someone owned the domain name, they were desperate to buy it. Fortunately for the company, the ‘Wired’ employee had just wanted to make a point and was happy to give up the name. McDonald’s cut a deal with the writer, who was happy to give the company the name in exchange for McDonald’s making a donation to a school of his choice.

Love or hate the company, you’ve got to admit that McDonald’s is an impressive success story. Few (if any) other companies reach the degree of success that McDonald’s has in both a business and cultural context. Given the curious ways that the company does business and the often genius marketing strategies that the company has employed over the years, chances are that there will be plenty other odd facts about this iconic company to be discovered in the years to come.





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