- McDonalds began in 1940 as a restaurant opened by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald in San Bernadino, California. Their introduction of the "Speedee Service System" in 1948 furthered the principles of the modern fast-food restaurant that the White Castle hamburger chain had already put into practice more than two decades earlier.
- The first McDonalds with the arches opened in Phoenix in March 1953.
- The original mascot of McDonald's was a man with a chef's hat on top of a hamburger-shaped head whose name was "Speedee". By 1967, Speedee was eventually replaced with Ronald McDonald when the company first filed a U.S. trademark on a clown-shaped man having puffed-out costume legs, although Speedee is still used occasionally from time to time.
- Businessman Ray Kroc joined the company as a franchise agent in 1955. He subsequently purchased the chain from the McDonald brothers and oversaw its worldwide growth.
McDonald Brother's store in San Bernadino, California
Ray Kroc's first restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois, 1955
Exterior view of the first McDonald's fast food restaurant with its neon arches illuminated at night, Des Plaines, Illinois, 1955
McDonald Museum at Des Plaines, Illinois. Again, note the original Golden Arches.
The oldest operating McDonald's in Downey, California, was the chain's third restaurant and the second to be built with the Golden Arches. The restaurant is almost unchanged in appearance since it opened in 1953.
Richard and Maurice McDonald
Original mascot, Speedee
The original Ronald McDonald, including colourised version. Pictured in 1963 is actor and “The Today Show” veteran Willard Scott, who created the character at the fast food chain’s request. He appeared as the clown until 1971. God knows how many children were traumatised thereby. Ironically, Scott was fired by McDonalds for being overweight.
By the way:
- In 1990, activists from a small group known as London Greenpeace (no connection to the international group Greenpeace) distributed leaflets entitled What's wrong with McDonald's?, criticising its environmental, health, and labor record. The corporation wrote to the group demanding they desist and apologise, and, when two of the activists refused to back down, sued them for libel. Known as "the McLibel case", each of two hearings in English courts found some of the leaflet's contested claims to be libellous and others to be true. The partial nature of the victory, the David-and-Goliath nature of the case, and the drawn-out litigation embarrassed McDonald's. One of the authors of the "McLibel leaflet" was an undercover police officer who had infiltrated London Greenpeace. The original case lasted ten years, making it the longest-running case in English history. McDonald's announced that it did not plan to collect the £40,000 that it was awarded by the courts.
- Despite the objections of McDonald's, the term "McJob" was added to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary in 2003. The term was defined as "a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement".
- Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary film Super Size Me said that McDonald's food was contributing to the epidemic of obesity in society, and that the company was failing to provide nutritional information about its food for its customers. Six weeks after the film premiered, McDonald's announced that it was eliminating the super size option, and was creating the adult Happy Meal.