From barbecue to billions and billions served: McDonald’s turns 75

On May 15, 1948, the McDonald brothers opened their revamped restaurant in San Bernardino. Over the past 75 years, McDonald’s has become the largest fast-food chain in the world.

Dick and Mac McDonald came to California to seek opportunities in the movie business and wound up owning a drive-in BBQ restaurant in San Bernardino. In 1948, they took a risk by streamlining their operations and introducing their Speedee Service System featuring hamburgers. The restaurant’s success led the brothers to begin franchising their concept.

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Dick McDonald explained their system this way, “Our whole concept was based on speed, lower prices and volume.” The Speedee Service System was what made their hamburger stand so cutting edge and allowed them to cook up 40 patties in 110 seconds and get a meal to a customer in 20 seconds.

Most popular fast-food companies

It’s indisputable that McDonald’s is America’s favorite fast food restaurant, if not the world’s. McDonald’s sales are almost double the second-place restaurant’s, Starbucks, totaling $46 billion compared to the coffee shop’s $24 billion.

U.S. total stores in 2021

  • Subway 21,147
  • Starbucks 15,450
  • McDonald’s 13,438
  • Dunkin’ 9,244
  • Burger King 7,105
  • Taco Bell 7,002
  • Domino’s 6,560
  • Pizza Hut 6,548
  • Wendy’s 5,938
  • Dairy Queen 4,339

Source: QSR Magazine

In 1963, the clown Ronald McDonald was introduced. The clown has been sidelined due to the negative perception of marketing to children. In 1967, McDonald’s opened its first franchise outside the U.S. in Richmond, British Columbia.

There are more than 22,000 McDonald’s in 100 different countries outside the U.S.

McDonald’s moved beyond the hamburger business by acquiring Chipotle Mexican Grill (1998), Donatos Pizza (1999), and Boston Market (2000) in the U.S.

How fast is fast food?

McDonald’s continues to place an emphasis on speed when it comes to selling its burgers. A hamburger, for example, can be cooked and fully assembled on average in 112 seconds.

According to McDonald’s corporate, if there are no other orders, a customer should be able to have a Quarter Pounder on their tray in 180 seconds, with 122 of those seconds being the patty’s cooking time.

How many sold?

McDonald’s stopped counting years ago and now signs that have a total usually say billions served or billions and billions served. Figuring out just how many hamburgers they sell by the second seems like a near-impossible exercise, but according to Business Insider, someone figured it out.

In 2013, the fast food giant was reportedly moving around 75 burgers every second. This burger data roughly breaks down as 4,500 burgers every minute, 270,000 every hour, 6.48 million every day and 2.36 billion burgers every year in the U.S.

Other estimates have put McDonald’s global burger sales at 50 million a day.

McDonald’s menu timeline

In 1940, Dick and Mac McDonald opened McDonald’s Barbecue in San Bernardino, the first McDonald’s restaurant. The restaurant, a drive-in with carhop service, would lead to the largest chain in the world.

The very first McDonald’s menu was large. However, in 1948, the McDonald brothers reduced the restaurant’s offerings down to just nine items.

The original items in 1948 were:

  • Hamburger, 15 cents
  • Cheeseburger, 19 cents
  • French fries, 10 cents
  • Milk, 10 cents
  • Milkshakes, 20 cents
  • Root beer, 10 cents
  • Orangeade, 10 cents
  • Coca Cola, 10 cents
  • Coffee, 10 cents

In 2013, McDonald’s had 145 items on its menu.

In April 1955, Ray Kroc launched McDonald’s Systems Inc., later known as McDonald’s Corp., in Des Plaines, Illinois, and there he also opened the first McDonald’s franchise east of the Mississippi River. In 1961, Kroc bought out the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million.

Who eats fast food?

A 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study looked at who eats fast food and how often. The study surveyed adults on whether they ate at a fast-food or pizza restaurant over the previous 24-hour period. The graphics show the percentage of adults who eat fast food “any given day.”

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁

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