McDonald's Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything


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Eating out has always been a popular leisure activity. These days, eating out is a part of everyday life that many of us take for granted, but it is easy to forget that in the past it was an occasional event enjoyed by a select few. Today, dining out is a social event enjoyed every day by people of all ages throughout the world. Out of the vast market of restaurant chains, McDonald's is without a doubt the world's largest and fastest growing, with more than 23,000 restaurants in 109 countries, serving food and drink to 38 million customers daily. In the UK alone, McDonald's operates a staggering 900 restaurants.

The Brand

In the UK, the brand is over 25 years old, it is still being introduced into many towns and neighbourhoods and is far from dying out, despite increased competitive pressures. There are not many other brands that can match the success of McDonald's 'Golden Arches' logo which is reputedly now more recognised than the Christian Cross. In 1996, McDonald's was rated as the world's greatest brand by a third party investigation. McDonald's has gone as far as to claim all trademarks starting with 'Mc' or 'Mac' in certain countries. They attempted to make a Danish company MacAllan's, and an English company McMunchies change their names.


43 years ago, Ray Kroc (a salesman), supplied milkshake multi-mixers to a drive-in restaurant run by two brothers: Dick and Mac McDonald. Kroc calculated that the restaurant must have been selling over 2000 milkshakes a month. Intrigued to know more about the secret behind the success of the brothers' business, he decided to pay a visit to the restaurant which promised its customers 'Speedee Service'. Amazed, he watched how the staff filled orders of 15-cent hamburgers with fries and shakes every 15 seconds. Kroc saw this as a massive potential and together with the McDonald brothers, set up the first McDonald's restaurant just north of Chicago on 15 April, 1955.

McDonald's began to rapidly grow, and within the first three years had sold more than 100 million hamburgers. In 1959, the 100th McDonald's restaurant was opened. The brand was just as popular outside the United States, and had successful markets in Canada, Japan, Australia, and Germany and in the UK. Today, McDonald's has spread to all five continents and has become an international brand.

The Product

From its early roots to its multi-billion dollar quick service restaurant industry, hamburgers and fries have always been at the front of McDonald's menu. However, the menu has been expanded to meet the needs of consumers' lifestyles. The ability to anticipate and meet these changes has been central to McDonald's success. For example, in 1968, Jim Deligatti was responsible for McDonald's most successful menu item ever: the Big Mac. Later on McDonald's introduced its breakfast menu, which proved extremely popular and changed the breakfast habits of millions of Americans. Innovative marketing has always been a major part of McDonald's growth, and their investing in new technology has led to great breakthroughs - most notably the first drive-through restaurant in Sierra Vista, Arizona. This idea sprung from a local sales problem when servicemen from a nearby army base were forbidden to exit their cars. The drive-through was an immediate success, and today accounts for more than half of McDonald's business.

McDonald's now has an extensive menu, ranging from beef and chicken, to vegetarian products, a full range of desserts, and hot and cold drinks to cater for everyone.

The Other Side of the Story

McDonald's, over the last couple of years has been at the centre of anti-capitalism, animal-rights and environmental right protests. Protesters feel that McDonald's is just one big money making business, which values profits at the expense of anything else. McDonald's has been used as the symbol for anti-capitalism businesses for more than one reason. Everyone knows them, they threaten legal action on anyone who makes false allegations against them.

McDonald's is especially under attack from animal rights groups and environmental parties. As the world's largest user of beef they are criticesd about animal welfare issues. McDonald's say it's not true.

McDonald's produces over a million tons of packaging, used for just a few minutes before being discarded. But are they responsible for the litter, or is it the customers' fault for failing to put it in the bin?

Interesting Facts

  • By the end of 1997 there were 23,000 McDonald's restaurants operating in 109 countries around the world.

  • Everyday food and drink is supplied to 38 million people worldwide. McDonald's serves 2.5 million customers in the UK on a daily basis.

  • McDonald's Children's Charities has donated more than $180 million since it was set up.

  • McDonald's is the largest food service chain in the world.

  • In the US, McDonald's donates more money to charity than any other commercial enterprise, with donations exceeding $50 million annually.

  • In 1997, McDonald's customers in the UK consumed over 61,550 tonnes of French fries, 7.5 million gallons of milk and 472 million buns.

  • For flavour enhancement, McDonald's French fry suppliers used to add a minuscule amount of beef flavouring as an ingredient in the raw product.

  • In 1996 McDonald's opened in India for the first time, a country where the majority of the population is vegetarian and the cow is sacred.

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