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Under the Golden Arches: McDonald’s Logos through The Years

Under the Golden Arches: McDonald’s Logos through The Years

Remember Speedee and Archy? Probably not

Archy popped up as a mascot in 1962, but didn't hang around for very long.

McDonalds is one of the most famous brands in the world, and those golden arches that have come to be synonymous with the company are instantly recognizable all across the planet. But did you know that they once adorned the midsection of an early mascot named Archy? And before Archy, the logo included a mascot named Speedee with a hamburger for a head? The McDonald’s logo has evolved in a major way over the years, and we’ve managed to track down just about every one they’ve ever had.

Under the Golden Arches: McDonald’s Logos through The Years Slideshow

The first McDonald’s opened in 1940 in San Bernardino, Calif., but it looked mighty different from today’s sleek drive-throughs and specialized in barbecue as well as burgers. In 1948 founders Dick and Mac McDonald established what they called a “Speedee Service System” to hurry along the process of serving their burgers, shakes, and fries (the barbecue was cut out of the menu in order to speed up service time) and they introduced Speedee to help spread the word. But Alka-Seltzer’s much more famous mascot was also named Speedy, and he was soon retired.

After Ray Kroc bought the business from the McDonald’s brothers in 1961 (he began franchising them for the brothers in 1955), the hunt was on for a new logo. The restaurants were framed by two golden arches and a slanted roof, so that design was incorporated into the new logo, and these two interlocking arches weren’t too far off from what we see today, even though it’s certainly been streamlined a bit (after a stint plastering the midsection of that other long-forgotten mascot, Archy). By the time the 1970s rolled around, that instantly recognizable “M” had all but been set in stone, but even that’s been tweaked over the years.

Click the link above for a journey through the varied history of the McDonald's logo.

McDonald’s Iconic Logo – The Story Of Its Evolution

McDonald’s iconic logo has gone through many changes during the course of its history. The logo was just a simple sketch of a chef in black and white in the 1940s. Now it has been transformed into one of the most recognized logos. Here is the logo evolution history.

McDonald’s is a top global brand and constantly ranks alongside some of the world’s most popular fast food chains today with several franchises operating successfully, in almost every country. The McDonald’s iconic logo has become interestingly synonymous with the America’s love for burgers, fries, and ice creams.

The story of McDonald’s current logo design is as interesting as their offerings. Quite naturally, the exciting story of its evolution requires a little elaboration. In this blog, we take a dig at some of the early versions of McDonald’s iconic logo design and its gradual evolution till date.

The Winking Tubby Chef

McDonald’s was opened by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald in San Bernardina, California in the year 1940. During that time, barbecue and burgers were the only specialties of McDonald’s.

Within a short span of eight years, they mastered the art of serving delectable fast food delicacies in no time. And to make their ‘Speeder Service System’ popular, they came up with a winking tubby chef Speeder logo by graphic design services.

The Iconic ‘Golden Arches’

In 1952, McDonald brothers hired a sign-maker, George Dexter to incorporate in logo design two giant golden (yellow) arches on both sides of the building. When viewed from an angle, these yellow arches resembled the letter ‘M’. However, these ‘golden Arches’ were finally added to the corporate logo design of McDonald’s when Ray Kroc acquired the company in 1961.

Jim Schindler, the constructions and engineering head of McDonald’s, added a slanting line running through the arches in the logo in a bid to symbolize the roof of the store. This is how McDonald’s got its iconic ‘Golden Arch’ logo.

Alterations In The ‘Golden Arches’

By the ’70s, the ‘Golden Arches’ became instantly recognizable and helped company establish as one of the most sought after brands. From then till 2010, the design underwent several iterations and redesigns.

Between 1975 and 2006, the popular fast food logo design was framed by a solid red rectangle and between 1992 and 2009 the ‘Golden Arches’ were given a brighter hue. A unique shadowed version of these ‘Golden Arches’ also made rounds between 1993 and 2010.

The ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ Logo

The official McDonald’s Corporation logo, the ‘Golden Arches’ tagline I’m lovin‘ it, came into existence when McDonald’s advertising campaign created by Heye & Partner GmbH in the year 2003 made history in Germany, UK, Australia and USA.

It was the super success of this advertisement campaign that made McDonald’s corporation embrace the ‘Golden Arches’ coupled by the tagline as its official corporate logo. Since then, the company’s logo has become one of the most iconic marks in the logo history.

With such a powerful logo design, McDonald’s is sure to tickle pink the fancy of epicureans and gluttons for many more decades to come.You may also be looking for creating a memorable logo design for your business.

McDonald&rsquos Brazil Posted A Photo Separating The Golden Arches To Spread The Word About Social Distancing

The news around the COVID-19 outbreak is constantly changing, but information about food safety and how to keep yourself healthy is crucial right now. Here is a comprehensive list on the foods you should be stocking up on during this period of social distancing, as well as information about your local grocery stores&rsquo changing hours, an explanation of &ldquono-contact delivery,&rdquo and a guide on how to help your community and its businesses throughout closures.

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues around the world and people are being encouraged to practice social distancing, everyone from celebrities to lawmakers are getting on board to spread the word about the importance of staying home and keeping a six-foot distance from others. McDonald's Brazil has gotten in on the conversation by separating the iconic golden arches on its logo as a sort of social distance public service announcement.

The photo came in the form of a Facebook post from the restaurant chain late last week but it's currently making the rounds online. McDonald's Brazil, like many restaurants and fast food chains globally, has closed its dining room to customers and is only offering to-go service, according to The Today Show.

McDonald's India shared similar sentiments in two different Instagram posts, one featuring an animation of the arches pulling apart with the caption "A little distance goes a long way! Stay home, stay safe," and an animation of French fries laying separately with "#socialdistancing" below it.

Both posts appeared to receive a mix of praise and criticism, with some complimenting the tactic as a way to spread the word and others pointing out that workers were still serving customers despite the outbreak.

"There is no point in separating the symbol and continuing to leave employees together," a translated comment one person left on the McDonald's Brazil post reads.

"Our employees, customers, and partners always come first," the restaurant chain, which is owned by Arcos Dorados, replied via its Facebook page. "And that is why we chose to close our rooms. For those in delivery and drive-thru, we intensified the hygiene and cleaning protocols."

11 Nostalgic Photos To Remind You Of How Much McDonald's Has Changed Over The Years

Last year, McDonald's introduced new cups, sandwich boxes, and packaging for their takeout bags. The new paper bags feature the iconic Golden Arches as well as "McDonald's" written in large bold letters, a noticeable departure from their previously white packaging.

"The new look is simple, fresh and consistent with our vision to be a modern and progressive burger company," McDonald's spokewoman Becca Harry said.

While the fast food giant is just trying to get in with the times, the introduction of the new packaging had some fans missing the way they once looked.

Since the chain was founded in 1955, they have implemented a ton of changes, so if you're ready to bask in some McDonald's nostalgia, here are 11 photos that show the evolution of the fast food restaurant's takeout packaging:

Popular in Human Interest

Chicago loves to memorialize the Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s, but the one that sticks in my mind is the McDonald’s The Future they built at Navy Pier in 1995. A product of new millennium futurism, it boasted Corinthian pillars and glass orbs of blue lightning. I remember visiting as a kid, pressing my McNugget-greased fingerprints to those orbs, watching the electricity rush to meet my point of contact. When I revisited later, as a teenager, the scrolls of the columns were dusty, and the orbs were just dead circles of glass. They remodeled the restaurant in 2017. Now, it’s strange to look back and feel nostalgic for both the beginning and the end of things. I’m glad I got to see it.

Of course, the real pull of nostalgia isn’t the places themselves. It’s the person you were when you visited them. And that’s the real lynchpin of the Nonstandard McDonald’s account. You’re no longer the kid with a Happy Meal. You’re not the stoned teen ordering a Shamrock Shake. But you can recall those past selves, the same way you can recall an animatronic tree that sings about hamburgers, the memory vivid with absurdity.

McDonald's is Giving Away These 4 Items For Free This Week

The movies don't mention it, but if you've ever wondered what Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus, and even Scrooge order when they go through the McDonald's drive thru, you're in luck. Daily holiday menu deals inspired by these pop culture icons and more are happening at the Golden Arches through Christmas Eve—and there are many beloved menu items you can get for free!

With every $1 food purchase in the McDonald's app, customers can score one free item a day. Monday's free food with purchase—any size hot or iced coffee—is Scrooge's favorite. (He likes it black, of course!) You can get any size McFlurry for free on Tuesday, Dec. 22. And just like Frosty the Snowman, you better finish it before it melts. A "Festivus" is happening on Wednesday, Dec. 23 Frank Costanza and the rest of the Seinfeld crew serve as the inspiration for a free bakery item. You can score an Apple Fritter, Blueberry Muffin, or Cinnamon Roll—all three of which recently made their debut on the permanent menu. (Related: McDonald's Is Making These 8 Major Upgrades.)

Christmas Eve wouldn't be complete without leaving milk and cookies out for Santa Claus, so McD's is offering a free two- or three-pack of chocolate chip cookies with a $1 in-app purchase on Dec. 24. We'd also climb down a chimney for these warm and melty treats, but sharing with jolly old Saint Nick is advised (since the cookies do each contain 170 calories and 15 grams of sugar each).

All you need to do to redeem these deals is to add any other item for purchase in the McDonald's app. Here's how to choose something healthier to pair with each freebie to truly sweeten the deal.

For more information on fast-food deals delivered right to your email inbox every day, sign up for our newsletter!

How McDonald’s Got Its Golden Arches

News that fast food giant McDonald’s will pursue a contentious makeover to try to remain relevant in 2015 has some experts wondering “if the gleam of its golden arches [is] fading.” But how did the pop culture icon get those arches, anyway?

Roadside architecture is at the root of the symbolic arches, writes Alan Hess. In an era before television, he writes, companies like McDonald’s had a dual challenge when it came to designing stores: they had to create buildings that were both functional and capable of serving as advertisements to America’s skyrocketing number of motorists.

The McDonald brothers had already invented a canny method for making their drive-through restaurant more efficient, writes Hess. By 1952, they wanted to abandon their renovated BBQ stand in favor of something bigger, better, and more iconic. So they hired Stanley Clark Meston, a Los Angeles architect with background as a set designer. Meston designed the building from the inside out, focusing on a factory-like interior first.

Then, it was time for the exterior. Here, writes Hess, Meston faced another challenge. Though he was armed with a “rough sketch of two half-circle arches designed by Richard McDonald,” he was tasked with not only creating an eye-catching building, but creating one that moved customers from the road to its windows…and incorporating his client’s idea at the same time. So he drew from the iconic, whimsical structures of 1930s drive-ins, many of which borrowed their looks from the very products they sold. Meston used them as a “logical solution” to the need to both catch drivers’ attention, safely shepherd customers toward the store’s walk-up windows, and shield them from the sun.

The result was the golden arches—and they’re a critical part of McDonald’s corporate identity to this day. The bold structural design was later incorporated into McDonald’s branding, leading to “a remarkably rich symbolic life…as a corporate logo.” Even the most mundane of restrictions and requirements, writes Hess, can become imaginative, iconic architecture.

Only 7 original McDonald's golden arches still exist, and one is in N.J.

If you're driving on Route 30 in Camden County just south of the New Jersey Turnpike, and you see a McDonald's Hamburgers sign mounted on a golden arch, you might want to pull over, even if you're not hungry.

It's not the fries or Big Macs that are so special — McDonald's is known for its strict quality control and uniformity of its food — but the sign itself.

The single-arch marquee is an original version that dates to 1962, and is one of only a half dozen like it from among the 37,000 McDonald's locations around the world, according to collectors, curators and other sign experts who have been wowed by what may be the Borough of Magnolia's most widely-renowned piece of architecture.

"I would say it’s a historic treasure," said Tod Swormstedt, executive director of the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. "Especially when there are only a handful left, certainly no more than 10."

Photo by Rolando Pujol

A single-arch McDonald's sign, seen at a location in Magnolia, N.J. (Al Amrhein | For NJ Advance Media)

Among the admirers of Magnolia's sign is Debra Jane Seltzer, who has driven around the country documenting vintage signs and other examples of American pop culture gradually disappearing from their original settings.

Seltzer hosts the web site, which features several pages on McDonald's restaurants and signs, including the Magnolia's.

In a phone interview, Seltzer said the sign originally stood in another part of town, a couple of miles away, where the original McDonald's building is long gone. The building that now accompanies the sign, a relatively common white stucco structure with a red mansard roof, is not architecturally significant, she said.

Seltzer said the Magnolia sign is one of just seven remaining single-arch McDonald's "crest" signs scattered along the byways of America, still bearing the family crest of Richard and Maurice McDonald.

The brothers had founded the chain in California, before they were joined in 1953 by Ray Kroc, who bought them out but kept their name, and built McDonald's into a global brand. The story was recently dramatized in the ironically titled film, "The Founder," starring Michael Keaton in the title role as Kroc.

Besides Magnolia's, the six other remaining crest signs are in Independence, Missouri Warren and Saint Clair Shores, Michigan Winter Haven, Florida Akron, Ohio — though the sign's crests have been covered and Pine Bluff, Arkansas, whose sign is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Seltzer and others noted that the Magnolia sign is in remarkably good shape for a 56-year-old outdoor marquee.

“I think it’s very special," said Seltzer. "It’s one of a very few that are left.”

10 things McDonald’s won’t tell you

Ah, McDonald’s, the place where we feast upon Big Macs, Egg McMuffins and even the occasional sweet chili chicken McWrap. In the U.S., the fast-food chain, founded in 1948, boasts by far the largest annual restaurant sales--almost triple the volume of Subway, its nearest competitor, according to QSR magazine, a trade publication for the industry. And McDonald’s MCD, -0.40% is a fixture overseas, too, with restaurants in more than 100 countries.

In all, the company serves almost 70 million customers a day spread across 36,000-plus locations. In 2014, such feasting equated to revenue of $27.44 billion—more than the gross domestic product of about 90 individual nations.

But these days, things do not appear so golden at the home of the Golden Arches. McDonald’s recently reported that its net income in the fourth quarter of 2014 dropped by 21% from the year-earlier period. Nation’s Restaurant News, another major trade publication, went so far as to declare the chain’s overall 2014 performance as possibly the “worst in decades.”

The company’s troubles became a hot topic again when McDonald’s announced a management change in late January, with CEO Don Thompson retiring and chief global brand officer Steve Easterbrook filling the top spot. Industry watchers pointed to the company’s recent track record as the likely reason for the switch, though McDonald’s didn't go into detail about the cause in its news release. Thompson said, “It’s tough to say goodbye to the McFamily, but there is a time and season for everything.”

So, what’s behind the company’s woes? Some industry experts say it’s the Chipotle CMG, -0.88% factor: Fast-casual restaurants—like the Mexican chain—are seen as a healthier, fresher and contemporary-minded alternative to McDonald’s menu. (Chipotle’s earnings were up by 52% in the most recently reported quarter—and even that wasn’t high enough to meet Wall Street’s expectations.) There’s also the threat posed by small but much beloved burger-centric chains like Five Guys and Shake Shack, which are also generally considered fast-casual. (Shake Shack saw its stock price soar by more than 125% during its recent first day of trading.)

Other experts point to a different culprit—namely, the now sizable menu at McDonald’s, which goes beyond burgers and fries to incorporate wraps, salads, gourmet coffee and even a yogurt parfait. (A recent Wall Street Journal report noted that the menu has grown from 85 to 120-plus items over the last seven years.) The cause for concern: the bigger the menu, the greater the potential for slow service—not exactly a plus in the fast-food game. Indeed, when QSR measured wait times at fast-food restaurants in 2013 as part of a continuing study, it found that service at McDonald’s was the slowest it’s been in 15 years, with a typical drive-through order resulting in a wait of 189 seconds. (Burger King was even slower, however.)

Whatever the cause for the decline, analysts say there may be no easy fix, since it’s challenging for such a sizable, established company to reinvent itself, especially for a millennial market that embraces the new. “It’s hard to point to one thing that’s going to get them out of this funk,” says Andy Barish, managing director at Jefferies LLC.

For its part, McDonald’s says it’s looking to the future, not the past: “2014 was a difficult year and performance fell short of our expectations, but it was also a building year and our management team is focused on regaining momentum in 2015,” says McDonald’s spokeswoman Becca Hary. She also says that McDonald’s is “beginning to see signs of forward progress in some of our critical (geographical) markets.”

Fast-food workers and their supporters protest for higher wages inside a McDonald’s in Los Angeles.

2. We call it an opportunity. Others call it a low-wage job

On its website, McDonald’s says it’s “proud of the jobs we create,” noting that it provides people “a way to buy that first car” or “enter the corporate world.” The company also notes that it offers flexible schedules and promotes diversity. Put it all together, McDonald’s says, and it encourages the 1.9 million people who work for the company world-wide (many of whom are employed via franchisees) to “make (their) own way, with challenging careers, quality benefits and the most opportunities around.”

Still, like most fast-food restaurants, McDonald’s has recently come under fire in the U.S. from labor advocates and its own employees for paying what they consider low wages. Fast Food Forward, a nationwide coalition of fast-food workers, has mounted a much-publicized “Fight for $15” campaign, demanding that McDonald’s and other chains pay employees $15 an hour, which it considers a “living wage” standard.

A 2013 University of California, Berkeley, study found that the median pay for front-line fast-food workers was $8.69 an hour. PayScale, a firm that tracks compensation data, puts McDonald’s median pay for food prep and service workers at a lower figure of $7.74 an hour, slightly below that of such competitors as Burger King ($7.96) and Wendy’s ($7.87). The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour.

“Higher wages at McDonald’s would be good for workers and would lift the economy,” says Kendall Feels, organizing director of Fast Food Forward.

McDonald’s spokeswoman Hary says the company and its franchisees “support paying our valued employees fair wages aligned with a competitive marketplace.” (In the U.S., 90% of McDonald’s restaurants are independently owned and operated by franchisees.) Hary also says that any increases in the minimum wage “should be implemented over time so that the impact on owners of small and medium-sized businesses—like the ones who own and operate the majority of our restaurants—is manageable.”

Actor Ryan Kwanten (left) chats with guests at a Ronald McDonald house in Australia.

3. We may not be as charitable as we seem

McDonald’s philanthropic efforts are focused on its Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) organization, which maintains 300-plus residences world-wide that provide housing for families when a child is being treated for illness or injury at a nearby hospital. “Our homes are filled with more than help, they’re filled with hope,” says RMHC on its website.

But some critics have questioned how generous McDonald’s is. A 2013 report, “Clowning Around with Charity,” authored by public-health lawyer Michele Simon, faulted the chain on many charitable fronts. The report said that McDonald’s provided only one-fifth of the funding for RMHC in 2012, despite the fact the organization is largely associated with the fast-food chain. (Other funding came through corporations such as Coca-Cola KO, -0.05% and Southwest Airlines LUV, +0.28% , plus individuals, according to the report.), In addition, the report said that McDonald’s gave 0.32% of its pretax profits to charity (based on a six-year average)—a much lower rate than other leading corporations of similar size, which gave an average of 1.01%.

In short, the report said, the chain’s “giving does not match its rhetoric.”

McDonald’s spokeswoman Hary didn't comment about the report. But at the time of the report’s release, McDonald’s senior vice president Bridget Coffing responded in a statement to ABC News by calling it “shameful and misleading.” Coffing added that the report “is a thinly veiled attack on our brand at the expense of the millions of families and organizations who have benefited from RMHC.”

These stalwarts endured the Hula Burger did not.

4. For every success story like the Big Mac, we have plenty of Hula Burgers

Sure, McDonald’s has given the world plenty of beloved (and often imitated) menu items, including the Big Mac, the Quarter Pounder and the McRib. (The latter typically comes out for a select period annually to much fanfare, which has led Jimmy Kimmel to dub it the “Punxsutawney Phil of sandwiches.”)

But it has also given the world plenty of items that didn’t last the test of time. Among them: the Hula Burger (a meatless option with a slice of grilled pineapple substituting for a beef patty), McSalad Shakers (a salad served in a cup) and various pizza items (including, yes, a McPizza). More recently, the company introduced Mighty Wings (its version of spicy chicken wings), only to find that the public wouldn’t bite—literally.

To some extent, it’s all part of the business, say analysts, noting that fast-food chains must always try something new if they’re going to stay ahead of the competition. But the recent lack of a “breakthrough item,” as Baird senior research analyst David Tarantino calls it, has some on Wall Street concerned, particularly since competing chains have had menu hits of late.

McDonald’s points to the 2013 introduction of its Egg White Delight as a success story. The company also says it’s excited about the expansion of its Create Your Taste sandwich customization program. “We’re always looking at our menu and testing new food innovations,” says Hary.

Old meat created new headaches for McDonald’s in China.

5. We’ve faced plenty of challenges overseas

McDonald’s has a strong presence in cities around the world, from A (Abu Dhabi) to Z (Zagreb), and its restaurant openings are often greeted with enthusiasm. But lately, the chain has run into headline-grabbing issues abroad. In China, its meat supplier was accused of selling items after they’d passed their shelf life. (McDonald’s wasn’t the only fast-food chain affected by the issue.) On top of that, the chain has faced increased competition in the world’s most populous country.

And in Russia, it’s been seemingly caught in political crossfire: After McDonald’s closed restaurants in Crimea following Russia’s annexation of the Ukranian region, the Russian government did a series of unscheduled inspections and closed several restaurants in Moscow, Sochi and other cities because of supposed sanitation issues.

Ultimately, such issues can affect sales and worry analysts. And that’s on top of economic concerns in countries where McDonald’s has a presence: Tarantino of Baird points to a recent tax increase in France and how that may be affecting consumers’ dining habits.

In a January conference call with analysts before his retirement was announced, Thompson pointed to ways McDonald’s is meeting various challenges overseas. In particular, he said business in Russia and China was in “recovery mode” and that the focus in those countries was on “winning customers back by emphasizing food quality.”

Morgan Spurlock (center): His weight gain was McDonald’s loss,

6. We’re still getting blamed for the obesity epidemic

After documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock came out with “Super Size Me” in 2004, McDonald’s became something of the poster child for fast food’s role in America’s obesity epidemic. (In the documentary, Spurlock follows a diet of nothing but items from McDonald’s for 30 days, and gains 24 pounds in the process.) Since then, McDonald’s has instituted menu changes, including adding more food choices that nutritionists approve of and eliminating the “super size” option.

But the chain continues to be faulted for offering foods that many critics consider high in calories and saturated fat. Additionally, Center for Science in the Public Interest, a watchdog group focused on nutrition, has objected to the use of toys in McDonald’s signature Happy Meals, saying it ultimately encourages children to eat “junk food.”

In response to such issues, Hary says the chain is “committed to quality food, responsible marketing, and to providing information to enable our guests to make informed choices that fit their nutritional needs and lifestyle.” The company also points out that it recently added oranges and a lower-fat yogurt to its Happy Meal options and a side salad (as an alternative to french fries) to its Extra Value Meals.

Like its competitors, McDonald’s faces criticism over what’s in its beef patties.

7. ‘Pink slime’ wasn’t our only controversial ingredient

When it comes to what goes in its food, McDonald’s has been transparent of late, launching a campaign, “Our Food, Your Questions,” that’s designed to address consumer concerns about ingredients. And the chain was out in front of many competitors in removing one controversial ingredient from its hamburgers—a finely textured beef dubbed “pink slime” by critics—in 2011. (Some 400 other retail, food-service and food processing companies are still using it.)

Still, that doesn’t mean everyone is letting the chain off the hook, as critics continue to express concern about a number of ingredients. Some point to the fact that McDonald’s beef isn’t hormone-free (some health advocates believe such beef poses a health risk, though the FDA maintains that the meat “is safe for humans to eat”). Critics also point out that McDonald’s uses azodicarbonamide—the “yoga mat” ingredient used to make bread fluffier (again, concerns have been raised about health risks, though the FDA considers the ingredient a “safe food additive”). Either way, it should be noted that McDonald’s isn’t alone in using such ingredients: For example, it’s been reported that many fast-food chains use azodicarbonamide, though Subway ditched it last year.

For its part, McDonald’s says it remains committed to being direct with consumers about ingredients, noting that since the October 2014 launch of the “Our Food, Your Questions” campaign, it has answered more than 30,000 queries from consumers. The company also says it has made a commitment to begin purchasing verifiable sustainable beef by 2016 (sustainable beef comes from producers who adhere to certain environmental and socially conscious standards). And it just announced that it will be sourcing antibiotic-free chicken starting within the next two years.

Some franchise owners are frustrated with the parent company.

8. Our franchisees aren’t always happy campers

As big as McDonald’s may be, it’s often its franchisees that are the “face” of the company--that is, they own most of the restaurants, especially in the U.S. But these days, some of those faces are wearing a grimace. In a recent survey conducted by Janney Capital Markets analyst Mark Kalinowski, some franchisees expressed frustration with the company, faulting it for “moving too slow” in making changes and launching “silly” marketing efforts, among other criticisms.

There’s also been concern that the menu is too large and results in slower service. And the Premium McWrap, introduced in 2013, has been a particular point of contention, since it takes a number of steps to assemble. “Our kitchen comes to a halt when we get an order for a McWrap,” one franchisee said last year.

McDonald’s spokeswoman Hary says the study captures the views of only a small number of the chain’s 2,000-plus franchisees.

‘Can’t talk: Gotta be in Louisville in 45 minutes.’

9. We won’t admit there’s more than one Ronald McDonald

McDonald’s has an international icon in its mascot, Ronald McDonald, a red-haired clown that has been part of the company’s marketing for more than 50 years. The clown makes appearances everywhere from McDonald’s restaurants to schools and libraries (he seems to be especially busy in Kentucky this year). He’s on Twitter, and even takes selfies.

But the one thing that McDonald’s won’t seemingly say about its mascot? That it employs more than one Ronald in its roster. Actually, the company keeps mum when it comes to many details about the clown—those who step into the Ronald suit must agree to never admit they do—and McDonald’s makes sure no two Ronalds ever appear together at public events, according to various published reports.

Today, McDonald’s doesn’t provide many more details about the clown, but it does clearly take pride in its mascot. Says Hary: He is “an ambassador for good and delivers messages to kids on safety, literacy and balanced, active lifestyles.”

Can you spot the Land, Sea and Air Burger?

10. We’ve got a secret menu

Everyone knows about the Big Mac. But what about the Poor Man’s Big Mac? Or the Chicken McGriddle? Or the Land, Sea and Air Burger? These are all examples of McDonald’s menu hacks that are discussed online. Yes, just like Starbucks SBUX, -0.44% , McDonald’s has a secret menu of items that can be created by piecing together ingredients from established items.

Consider: The Poor Man’s Big Mac is a McDouble burger with extra lettuce and Big Mac sauce instead of the standard ketchup and mustard, according to the HackTheMenu website. (It’s called a poor man’s version because it runs about two bucks cheaper.) The Chicken McGriddle is simply a sandwich made with a McChicken patty in between two McGriddle cakes. And the Land, Sea and Air Burger? It’s a gut-busting amalgam of a Big Mac, a Filet-O-Fish and a McChicken sandwich. (Talk about a real whopper.) As the HackTheMenu site says: “The creators of the McDonald’s secret menu are those (who) dared to dream. Those who thought, ‘Hey, I can make this better.’ And that’s exactly what they did.”

Of course, some hacks require a little, ahem, assistance from the McDonald’s staff. (Others can be assembled tableside by the hacker.) The HackTheMenu website offers this key tip: “Be kind to the server.” Oh, and be prepared to explain how to assemble the hacked item. But indeed, some hacks are apparently established enough that no explanations are necessary. Either way, the hacked item might come with a charge for extra ingredients. As for the company’s official take on menu hacking, Hary simply says: “Our crew members will prepare your meal based on your preferences.”


On May 4, 1961, McDonald's first filed for a U.S. trademark on the name "McDonald's" with the description "Drive-In Restaurant Services", which continues to be renewed. By September 13, McDonald's, under the guidance of Ray Kroc, filed for a trademark on a new logo—an overlapping, double-arched "M" symbol. But before the double arches, McDonald's used a single arch for the architecture of their buildings. Although the "Golden Arches" logo appeared in various forms, the present version was not used until November 18, 1968, when the company was favored a U.S. trademark.

The present corporation credits its founding to franchised businessman Ray Kroc on April 15, 1955. This was in fact the ninth opened McDonald's restaurant overall, although this location was destroyed and rebuilt in 1984. In 1961, Kroc purchased the McDonald brothers's equity in the company and began the company's worldwide reach. [20] Kroc was recorded as being an aggressive business partner, driving the McDonald brothers out of the industry.

Kroc and the McDonald brothers fought for control of the business, as documented in Kroc's autobiography. The San Bernardino restaurant was eventually torn down in 1971, and the site was sold to the Juan Pollo chain in 1998. This area serves as headquarters for the Juan Pollo chain, and a McDonald's and Route 66 museum. [21] With the expansion of McDonald's into many international markets, the company has become a symbol of globalization and the spread of the American way of life. Its prominence has made it a frequent topic of public debates about obesity, corporate ethics, and consumer responsibility.

Facts and figures

McDonald's restaurants are found in 120 countries and territories around the world and serve 68 million customers each day. [23] [24] McDonald's operates 37,855 restaurants worldwide, employing more than 210,000 people as of the end of 2018. [12] [13] [23] There are a total of 2,770 company-owned locations and 35,085 franchised locations, which includes 21,685 locations franchised to conventional franchisees, 7,225 locations licensed to developmental licensees, and 6,175 locations licensed to foreign affiliates. [12] [13]

Focusing on its core brand, McDonald's began divesting itself of other chains it had acquired during the 1990s. The company owned a majority stake in Chipotle Mexican Grill until October 2006, when McDonald's fully divested from Chipotle through a stock exchange. [25] [26] Until December 2003, it owned Donatos Pizza, and it owned a small share of Aroma Café from 1999 to 2001. On August 27, 2007, McDonald's sold Boston Market to Sun Capital Partners. [27]

Notably, McDonald's has increased shareholder dividends for 25 consecutive years, [28] making it one of the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats. [29] [30] The company is ranked 131st on the Fortune 500 of the largest United States corporations by revenue. [31] In October 2012, its monthly sales fell for the first time in nine years. [32] In 2014, its quarterly sales fell for the first time in seventeen years, when its sales dropped for the entirety of 1997. [33]

In the United States, it is reported that drive-throughs account for 70 percent of sales. [34] [35] McDonald's closed down 184 restaurants in the United States in 2015, which was 59 more than what they planned to open. [36] [37] This move was the first time McDonald's had a net decrease in the number of locations in the United States since 1970. [37]

The McDonald's on-demand delivery concept, which began in 2017 with a partnership with Uber Eats and added DoorDash in 2019 (with select locations adding Grubhub in 2021), accounts for up to 3% of all business as of 2019. [38]

The $100 billion in sales generated by McDonald's company-owned and franchise restaurants in 2019 accounts for almost 4% of the estimated $2.5 trillion global restaurant industry. [39]


For the fiscal year 2018, McDonald's reported earnings of US$5.9 billion, with annual revenue of US$21.0 billion, a decrease of 7.9% over the previous fiscal cycle. McDonald's shares traded at over $145 per share, and its market capitalization was valued at over US$134.5 billion in September 2018.

Year Revenue
in mil. USD$
Net income
in mil. USD$
Total assets
in mil. USD$
Price per share
in USD$
Locations [40] Employees Ref.
2005 19,117 2,602 29,989 31.88 [41]
2006 20,895 3,544 28,975 36.79 31,046 [41]
2007 22,787 2,395 29,392 50.98 31.377 [41]
2008 23,522 4,313 28,462 58.06 31,967 [42]
2009 22,745 4,551 30,225 57.44 32,478 [43]
2010 24,075 4,946 31,975 70.91 32,737 [44]
2011 27,006 5,503 32,990 83.97 33,510 [45]
2012 27,567 5,465 35,387 92.53 34,480 [46]
2013 28,106 5,586 36,626 97.26 35,429 440,000 [47]
2014 27,441 4,758 34,227 96.38 36,258 420,000 [48]
2015 25,413 4,529 37,939 100.28 36,525 420,000 [49]
2016 24,622 4,687 31,024 120.14 36,899 375,000 [50]
2017 22,820 5,192 33,804 148.76 37,241 235,000 [51]
2018 21,025 5,924 32,811 166.06 37,855 210,000 [52]
2019 21,077 6,025 47,511 38,695 205,000 [53]

Business model

The company owns all the land on which its restaurants are situated, which is valued at an estimated $16 to $18 billion. [ citation needed ] The company earns a significant portion of its revenue from rental payments from franchisees. These rent payments rose 26 percent between 2010 and 2015, accounting for one-fifth of the company's total revenue at the end of the period. [54] In recent times, there have been calls to spin off the company's U.S. holdings into a potential real estate investment trust, but the company announced at its investor conference on November 10, 2015, that this would not happen. CEO Steve Easterbrook discussed that pursuing the REIT option would pose too large a risk to the company's business model. [55]

The United Kingdom and Ireland business model is different from the U.S, in that fewer than 30 percent of restaurants are franchised, with the majority under the ownership of the company. McDonald's trains its franchisees and management at Hamburger University located at its Chicago headquarters. [56] [57] In other countries, McDonald's restaurants are operated by joint ventures of McDonald's Corporation and other, local entities or governments. [58]

According to Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser (2001), nearly one in eight workers in the U.S. have at some time been employed by McDonald's. Employees are encouraged by McDonald's Corp. to maintain their health by singing along to their favorite songs in order to relieve stress, attending church services in order to have a lower blood pressure, and taking two vacations annually in order to reduce the risk for myocardial infarction. [59] Fast Food Nation states that McDonald's is the largest private operator of playgrounds in the U.S., as well as the single largest purchaser of beef, pork, potatoes, and apples. The selection of meats McDonald's uses varies to some extent based on the culture of the host country. [60]


On June 13, 2016, McDonald's confirmed plans to move its global headquarters to Chicago's West Loop neighborhood in the Near West Side. The 608,000-square-foot structure opened on June 4, 2018, and was built on the former site of Harpo Productions (where The Oprah Winfrey Show and several other Harpo productions taped). [6] [7]

The McDonald's former headquarters complex, McDonald's Plaza, is located in Oak Brook, Illinois. It sits on the site of the former headquarters and stabling area of Paul Butler, the founder of Oak Brook. [61] McDonald's moved into the Oak Brook facility from an office within the Chicago Loop in 1971. [62]

Board of directors

As of February 2021 [update] , the board of directors had the following members: [63]

    , non-executive chairman president and CEO of Inter-Con Security
  • Lloyd H. Dean, president and CEO of Dignity Health , president and CEO of McDonald's , operating partner of Friedman Fleischer & Lowe , CEO of , non-executive of Conagra Brands
  • John J. Mulligan, executive vice president and COO of Target Corporation , non-executive chairman of Jones Lang LaSalle , chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments , chairman and CEO of Abbott Laboratories , chairman emeritus. Also chairman emeritus of Schwarz Supply Source
  • Catherine M. Engelbert, commissioner of the Women's National Basketball Association , executive chairman of McLaren Group

On March 1, 2015, after being the chief brand officer of McDonald's and its former head in the UK and northern Europe, Steve Easterbrook became CEO, succeeding Don Thompson, who stepped down on January 28, 2015.

On November 4, 2019, McDonald's announced that Steve Easterbrook would no longer be CEO due to a violation of company guidelines pertaining to relationships with employees. Easterbrook was succeeded as CEO by Chris Kempczinski. [64]

Global operations

McDonald's has become emblematic of globalization, sometimes referred to as the "McDonaldization" of society. The Economist newspaper uses the "Big Mac Index": the comparison of the cost of a Big Mac in various world currencies can be used to informally judge these currencies' purchasing power parity. Switzerland has the most expensive Big Mac in the world as of July 2015, while the country with the least expensive Big Mac is India [65] [66] (albeit for a Maharaja Mac—the next cheapest Big Mac is Hong Kong). [67]

Thomas Friedman said that no country with a McDonald's had gone to war with another [68] [69] however, the "Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention" is incorrect. Exceptions are the 1989 United States invasion of Panama, NATO's bombing of Serbia in 1999, the 2006 Lebanon War, and the 2008 South Ossetia war. McDonald's suspended operations in its corporate-owned stores in Crimea after Russia annexed the region in 2014. [70] On August 20, 2014, as tensions between the United States and Russia strained over events in Ukraine, and the resultant U.S. sanctions, the Russian government temporarily shut down four McDonald's outlets in Moscow, citing sanitary concerns. The company has operated in Russia since 1990 and at August 2014 had 438 stores across the country. [71] On August 23, 2014, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich ruled out any government move to ban McDonald's and dismissed the notion that the temporary closures had anything to do with the sanctions. [72]

Some observers have suggested that the company should be given credit for increasing the standard of service in markets that it enters. A group of anthropologists in a study entitled Golden Arches East [73] looked at the impact McDonald's had on East Asia and Hong Kong, in particular. When it opened in Hong Kong in 1975, McDonald's was the first restaurant to consistently offer clean restrooms, driving customers to demand the same of other restaurants and institutions. McDonald's has taken to partnering up with Sinopec, the second-largest oil company in the People's Republic of China, as it takes advantage of the country's growing use of personal vehicles by opening numerous drive-thru restaurants. [74] McDonald's has opened a McDonald's restaurant and McCafé on the underground premises of the French fine arts museum, The Louvre. [75]

The company stated it would open vegetarian-only restaurants in India by mid-2013. [76]

On January 9, 2017, 80% of the franchise rights in mainland China and in Hong Kong were sold for US$2.08 billion to a consortium of CITIC Limited (for 32%) and private equity funds managed by CITIC Capital (for 20%) and Carlyle (for 20%), which CITIC Limited and CITIC Capital would form a joint venture to own the stake. [77]

McDonald's predominantly sells hamburgers, various types of chicken, chicken sandwiches, French fries, soft drinks, breakfast items, and desserts. In most markets, McDonald's offers salads and vegetarian items, wraps and other localized fare. On a seasonal basis, McDonald's offers the McRib sandwich. Some speculate the seasonality of the McRib adds to its appeal. [78]

Products are offered as either "dine-in" (where the customer opts to eat in the restaurant) or "take-out" (where the customer opts to take the food off the premises). "Dine-in" meals are provided on a plastic tray with a paper insert on the floor of the tray. "Take-out" meals are usually delivered with the contents enclosed in a distinctive McDonald's-branded brown paper bag. In both cases, the individual items are wrapped or boxed as appropriate.

Since Steve Easterbrook became CEO of the company, McDonald's has streamlined the menu which in the United States contained nearly 200 items. The company has looked to introduce healthier options, and removed high-fructose corn syrup from hamburger buns. The company has removed artificial preservatives from Chicken McNuggets, [79] replacing chicken skin, safflower oil and citric acid found in Chicken McNuggets with pea starch, rice starch and powdered lemon juice. [80]

In September 2018, McDonald's USA announced that they no longer use artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors entirely from seven classic burgers sold in the U.S., including the hamburger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger, McDouble, Quarter Pounder with Cheese, double Quarter Pounder with Cheese and the Big Mac. [81] [82] Nevertheless, the pickles will still be made with an artificial preservative, although customers can choose to opt-out of getting pickles with their burgers. [83] [84]

In November 2020, McDonald's announced McPlant, a plant-based burger, along with plans to develop additional meat alternative menu items that extend to chicken substitutes and breakfast sandwiches. [85] [86] This announcement came after the successful testing of Beyond Meat plant based meat substitutes.

International menu variations

Restaurants in several countries, particularly in Asia, serve soup. This local deviation from the standard menu is a characteristic for which the chain is particularly known, and one which is employed either to abide by regional food taboos (such as the religious prohibition of beef consumption in India) or to make available foods with which the regional market is more familiar (such as the sale of McRice in Indonesia, or Ebi (prawn) Burger in Singapore and Japan).

In Germany and some other Western European countries, McDonald's sells beer. In New Zealand, McDonald's sells meat pies, after local affiliate McDonald's New Zealand partially relaunched the Georgie Pie fast food chain it bought out in 1996. [87] In Greece, the signature hamburger, Big Mac, is changed by adding Tzatziki sauce and packaging in a pita. [88]

In the United States and Canada, after limited trials on a regional basis, McDonald's began offering in 2015 [89] and 2017, [90] respectively, a partial breakfast menu during all hours its restaurants are open.

Types of restaurants

Most standalone McDonald's restaurants offer both counter service and drive-through service, with indoor and sometimes outdoor seating. [91] Drive-Thru, Auto-Mac, Pay and Drive, or "McDrive" as it is known in many countries, often has separate stations for placing, paying for, and picking up orders, though the latter two steps are frequently combined [91] it was first introduced in Sierra Vista, Arizona in 1975, [92] following the lead of other fast-food chains. The first such restaurant in Britain opened at Fallowfield, Manchester in 1986. [93]

In 1994, McDonald's attempted Hearth Express, a prototype specializing in homestyle takeout meals. Among the fare offered were meatloaf, fried chicken, and baked ham. This experiment started with a single location in Darien, Illinois, but closed in only one year. [94]


In some countries, McDrive locations near highways offer no counter service or seating. [95] In contrast, locations in high-density city neighborhoods often omit drive-through service. [96] There are also a few locations, mostly in downtown districts, that offer a "Walk-Thru" service in place of Drive-Thru. [97]


McCafé is a café-style accompaniment to McDonald's restaurants. The concept was created by McDonald's Australia, where it is marketed as Macca's, starting with Melbourne in 1993. [98] As of 2016, most McDonald's in Australia have McCafés located within the existing McDonald's restaurant. In Tasmania, there are McCafés in every restaurant, with the rest of the states quickly following suit. [91] After upgrading to the new McCafé look and feel, some Australian restaurants have noticed up to a 60 percent increase in sales. At the end of 2003, there were over 600 McCafés worldwide.

"Create Your Taste" restaurants

From 2015 to 2016, McDonald's tried a new gourmet burger service and restaurant concept based on other gourmet restaurants such as Shake Shack and Grill'd. It was rolled out for the first time in Australia during the early months of 2015 and expanded to China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Arabia, and New Zealand, with ongoing trials in the US market. In dedicated "Create Your Taste" (CYT) kiosks, customers could choose all ingredients including the type of bun and meat along with optional extras. In late 2015 the Australian CYT service introduced CYT salads.

After a person had ordered, McDonald's advised that wait times were between 10 and 15 minutes. When the food was ready, the trained crew ('hosts') brought the food to the customer's table. Instead of McDonald's usual cardboard and plastic packaging, CYT food was presented on wooden boards, fries in wire baskets, and salads in china bowls with metal cutlery. A higher price applied.

In November 2016, Create Your Taste was replaced by a "Signature Crafted Recipes" program designed to be more efficient and less expensive. [99]


Some locations are connected to gas stations and convenience stores, [100] while others called McExpress have limited seating or menu or may be located in a shopping mall. Other McDonald's are located in Walmart stores. McStop is a location targeted at truckers and travelers which may have services found at truck stops. [101]

In Sweden, customers who order a happy meal can use the meal's container for a pair of goggles. [102] The company created a game for the goggles known as Slope Stars. [102] McDonald's predicts happy goggles will continue in other countries. [102] In the Netherlands, McDonald's has introduced McTrax that doubles as a recording studio it reacts to touch. [102] They can create their own beats with a synth and tweak sounds with special effects. [102]

Special diet

The first kosher McDonald's was established in 1997 at the Abasto de Buenos Aires mall in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There are many kosher branches in Israel. [103] [104]


McDonald's playgrounds are called McDonald's PlayPlace. Some McDonald's in suburban areas and certain cities feature large indoor or outdoor playgrounds. The first PlayPlace with the familiar crawl-tube design with ball pits and slides was introduced in 1987 in the US, with many more being constructed soon after. [ citation needed ]

McDonald's Next

McDonald's Next use open-concept design and offer "Create Your Taste" digital ordering. The concept store also offers free mobile device charging and table service after 6:00 pm. The first store opened in Hong Kong in December 2015. [105]

2006 redesign

In 2006, McDonald's introduced its "Forever Young" brand by redesigning all of its restaurants, the first major redesign since the 1970s. [106] [107]

The goal of the redesign is to be more like a coffee shop, similar to Starbucks. The design includes wooden tables, faux-leather chairs, and muted colors the red was muted to terracotta, the yellow was shifted to golden for a more "sunny" look, and olive and sage green were also added.

To create a warmer look, the restaurants have less plastic and more brick and wood, with modern hanging lights to produce a softer glow. Many restaurants feature free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. Other upgrades include double drive-thrus, flat roofs instead of the angled red roofs, and replacing fiberglass with wood. Instead of the familiar golden arches, the restaurants feature "semi-swooshes" (half of a golden arch), similar to the Nike swoosh. [108]

Smoking ban

McDonald's began banning smoking in 1994 when it restricted customers from smoking within its 1,400 wholly-owned restaurants. [109]

COVID-19 pandemic

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, McDonald's closed most seating and all play areas in its United States restaurants. [110] It transitioned to drive-thru and curbside orders at locations and online food ordering delivery services. [111]

Restaurants in a number of countries including France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland were temporarily closed. [112] Some of these closed restaurants have now re-opened for drive-thru/delivery service only with menu limitations and spend caps. [113] In other countries including Australia, Germany and Canada restaurants did not close but were limited to providing drive-thru, takeaway or delivery only. [112]

McDonald's Australia was forced to close 11 Melbourne restaurants temporarily after staff came into contact with a delivery driver who tested positive for COVID-19. [114]

The re-opening of McDonald's restaurants for drive-thru in the United Kingdom generated significant queues of traffic throughout the country. [115] [116] [117] Avon and Somerset Police warned long lines of traffic could "cause accidents" [118] and Warwickshire Police criticized the queues as "dangerous". [119] In July 2020, for the years's second quarter, McDonald's reported earnings of 66 cents per share. Compared to the same period of last year, it represented a fall of 68%. [120]


Since the late 1990s, McDonald's has attempted to replace employees with electronic kiosks which would perform actions such as taking orders and accepting money. In 1999, McDonald's first tested "E-Clerks" in suburban Chicago, Illinois, and Wyoming, Michigan, with the devices being able to "save money on live staffers" and attracting larger purchase amounts than average employees. [121]

In 2013, the University of Oxford estimated that in the succeeding decades, there was a 92% probability of food preparation and serving to become automated in fast food establishments. [122] By 2016, McDonald's "Create Your Taste" electronic kiosks were seen in some restaurants internationally where customers could custom order meals. As employees pushed for higher wages in the late-2010s, some believed that fast food companies such as McDonald's would use the devices to cut costs for employing individuals. [123]

In September 2019, McDonald's purchased an AI-based start-up Apprente for replacing human servers with voice-based technology in its US drive-throughs. [124]


On August 5, 2013, The Guardian revealed that 90 percent of McDonald's UK workforce are on zero-hour contracts, making it possibly the largest such private-sector employer in the country. [125] In April 2017, due to employee strikes, they gave all employees the option of fixed contracts instead. [126] A study released by Fast Food Forward conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research showed that approximately 84 percent of all fast food employees working in New York City in April 2013 had been paid less than their legal wages by their employers. [127]

From 2007 to 2011, fast-food workers in the U.S. drew an average of $7 billion of public assistance annually resulting from receiving low wages. [128] The McResource website advised employees to break their food into smaller pieces to feel fuller, seek refunds for unopened holiday purchases, sell possessions online for quick cash, and to "quit complaining" as "stress hormone levels rise by 15 percent after ten minutes of complaining." [129] In December 2013, McDonald's shut down the McResource website amidst negative publicity and criticism. McDonald's plans to continue an internal telephone helpline through which its employees can obtain advice on work and life problems. [130]

Liberal think tank the Roosevelt Institute accuses some McDonald's restaurants of actually paying less than the minimum wage to entry positions due to "rampant" wage theft. [131] In South Korea, McDonald's pays part-time employees $5.50 an hour and is accused of paying less with arbitrary schedules adjustments and pay delays. [132] In late 2015, Anonymous-aggregated data collected by Glassdoor suggests that McDonald's in the United States pays entry-level employees between $7.25 an hour and $11 an hour, with an average of $8.69 an hour. Shift managers get paid an average of $10.34 an hour. Assistant managers get paid an average of $11.57 an hour. [133] McDonald's CEO, Steve Easterbrook, earns an annual salary of $1,100,000. [134] His total compensation for 2017 was $21,761,052. [135]


McDonald's workers have on occasions decided to strike over pay, with most of the employees on strike seeking to be paid $15.00. [136] When interviewed about the strikes occurring, former McDonald's CEO Ed Rensi stated: "It's cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who's inefficient making $15 an hour bagging french fries" with Rensi explaining that increasing employee wages could possibly take away from entry-level jobs. [137] However, according to Easterbrook, increasing wages and benefits for workers saw a 6% increase in customer satisfaction when comparing 2015's first-quarter data to the first quarter of 2016, with greater returns seen as a result. [137]

In September 2017, two British McDonald's stores agreed to a strike over zero-hours contracts for staff. Picket lines were formed around the two stores in Crayford and Cambridge. The strike was supported by the Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn. [138] [139]


Workers at the McDonald's franchise at Saint-Barthélémy, Marseille, occupied the restaurant, in protest against its planned closure. Employing 77 people, the restaurant is the second-biggest private-sector employer in Saint-Barthélémy, which has an unemployment rate of 30 percent. [140] Lawyers for Kamel Guemari, a shop steward at the franchise, claimed an attempt was made to kill him when a car drove at him in the restaurant car park. [141] [142]

Working conditions

In March 2015, McDonald's workers in 19 U.S. cities filed 28 health and safety complaints with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration which allege that low staffing, lack of protective gear, poor training, and pressure to work fast has resulted in injuries. The complaints allege that, because of a lack of first aid supplies, workers were told by management to treat burn injuries with condiments such as mayonnaise and mustard. [143] The Fight for $15 labor organization aided the workers in filing the complaints. [144]

In 2015, McDonald's pledged to stop using eggs from battery cage facilities by 2025. Since McDonald's purchases over 2 billion eggs per year or 4 percent of eggs produced in the United States, the switch is expected to have a major impact on the egg industry and is part of a general trend toward cage-free eggs driven by consumer concern over the harsh living conditions of hens. [145] [146] The aviary systems from which the new eggs will be sourced are troubled by much higher mortality rates, as well as introducing environmental and worker safety problems. [147] The high hen mortality rate, which is more than double that of battery cage systems, will require new research to mitigate. The facilities have higher ammonia levels due to feces being kicked up into the air. Producers raised concerns about the production cost, which is expected to increase by 36 percent. [148]

McDonald's continues to source pork from facilities that use gestation crates, and in 2012 pledged to phase them out. [149]

McDonald's has for decades maintained an extensive advertising campaign. In addition to the usual media (television, radio, and newspaper), the company makes significant use of billboards and signage, and also sponsors sporting events ranging from Little League to the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games. [150] Television has played a central role in the company's advertising strategy. [151] To date, McDonald's has used 23 different slogans in United States advertising, as well as a few other slogans for select countries and regions. [152]

Children's advertising

Celebrity endorsements

In 1992, basketball player Michael Jordan became the first celebrity to have a McDonald's value meal named after him. The "McJordan", a Quarter Pounder with pickles, raw onion slices, bacon and barbecue sauce, was available at Chicago franchises. [153] In September 2020, McDonald's partnered with rapper Travis Scott to release the "Travis Scott Meal", a Quarter Pounder with cheese, bacon, lettuce, pickles, ketchup and mustard medium fries with barbecue sauce and a Sprite, nationwide. Scott designed new uniforms for McDonald's employees and released Cactus Jack merchandise using vintage visuals from the fast food chain's history. [154] The company followed up with the "J Balvin Meal", a Big Mac with no pickles fries with ketchup and a Oreo McFlurry, in a partnership with reggaeton singer J Balvin. [155] LeBron James has been a spokesman for McDonald's from 2003 to 2017 [156] while co-endorsing Coca Cola-Sprite since early in his career. [157] In March 2014, a special “Sprite 6 Mix by LeBron James” flavor of Sprite featuring the flavors of lemon-lime, orange, and cherry, debuted just before the NBA playoffs. [158] James’ endorsement of Sprite has also included the seasonal “cranberry” and “winter-spiced cranberry” editions of the beverage. James’ deal with Coca-Cola and Sprite ended in 2020, with a new partnership with Pepsi and Mountain Dew launching in 2021. [159]

Space exploration

McDonald's and NASA explored an advertising agreement for a planned mission to the asteroid 449 Hamburga however, the spacecraft was eventually cancelled. [160]

Sponsorship in NASCAR

McDonald's entered the NASCAR Cup Series in 1977, sponsoring Richard Childress for one race. Between the years 1977 and 1986, McDonald's would only sponsor a handful of races in a season. In 1993, McDonald's became the full-time sponsor for the No. 27 Junior Johnson & Associates Ford, driven by Hut Stricklin. [161] In 1994, Stricklin was replaced in the car by Jimmy Spencer, who would go on to win twice that season. The following season McDonald's would move over to the No. 94 Bill Elliott Racing Ford, driven by team-owner Bill Elliott. [162] McDonald's stayed with Elliott until the 2001 season when they moved again, this time to the No. 96 PPI Motorsports Ford, driven by rookie Andy Houston. However, when the team failed to field a car for the entire season, McDonald's became absent from NASCAR until 2004, when it joined Evernham Motorsports as a part-time sponsor for drivers Elliott, Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler, A. J. Allmendinger, and Reed Sorenson until 2010. [161]

During the 2010 season, McDonald's would enter its longest partnership with a team at Chip Ganassi Racing, sponsoring the No. 1 Chevrolet driven by Jamie McMurray until his final race in the 2019 Daytona 500. [163] [164] McDonald's moved to CGR's No. 42 of Kyle Larson, whom the company sponsored until his suspension in 2020, [165] and also had a one-race partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports' No. 43 Chevrolet driven by Bubba Wallace in 2019 and 2020. [166] [167] McDonald's continued working with the No. 42 under new driver Ross Chastain in 2021 and also joined Wallace's new team 23XI Racing as a "founding partner". [168] [169]

Sports awards and honors

McDonald's is the title sponsor of the McDonald's All-American Game, all-star basketball games played each year for top-ranked amateur American and Canadian boys' and girls' high school basketball graduates.

McHappy Day

McHappy Day is an annual event at McDonald's, during which a percentage of the day's sales go to charity. It is the signature fundraising event for Ronald McDonald House Charities. [170]

In 2007, it was celebrated in 17 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, England, Finland, France, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States, and Uruguay.

According to the Australian McHappy Day website, McHappy Day raised $20.4 million in 2009. The goal for 2010 was $20.8 million. [171]

McDonald's Monopoly donation

In 1995, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital received an anonymous letter postmarked in Dallas, Texas, containing a $1 million winning McDonald's Monopoly game piece. McDonald's officials came to the hospital, accompanied by a representative from the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, who examined the card under a jeweler's eyepiece, handled it with plastic gloves, and verified it as a winner. [172] Although game rules prohibited the transfer of prizes, McDonald's waived the rule and made the annual $50,000 annuity payments for the full 20-year period through 2014, even after learning that the piece was sent by an individual involved in an embezzlement scheme intended to defraud McDonald's.


McRefugees are poor people in Hong Kong, Japan, and China who use McDonald's 24-hour restaurants as a temporary hostel. [173]

In the late 1980s, Phil Sokolof, a millionaire businessman who had suffered a heart attack at the age of 43, took out full-page newspaper ads in New York, Chicago, and other large cities accusing McDonald's menu of being a threat to American health, and asking them to stop using beef tallow to cook their french fries. [174]

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?, criticizing its environmental, health, and labor record. The corporation wrote to the group demanding they desist and apologize, and, when two of the activists refused to back down, sued them for libel leading to the "McLibel case", one of the longest cases in English civil law. A documentary film of the McLibel Trial has been shown in several countries. [175]

In 2001, Eric Schlosser's book Fast Food Nation included criticism of the business practices of McDonald's. Among the critiques were allegations that McDonald's (along with other companies within the fast-food industry) uses its political influence to increase its profits at the expense of people's health and the social conditions of its workers. The book also brought into question McDonald's advertisement techniques in which it targets children. While the book did mention other fast-food chains, it focused primarily on McDonald's. [ citation needed ]

In 2002, vegetarian groups, largely Hindu and Buddhist, successfully sued McDonald's for misrepresenting its French fries as vegetarian, when they contained beef broth. [176] In the same year, Spanish band Ska-P released a song titled "McDollar" in their album ¡¡Que Corra La Voz‼ criticizing McDonald's.

Though the company objected, the term "McJob" was added to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary in 2003. [177] The term was defined as "a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement". [178] Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary also contains the word "McMansion," a critical, pejorative term used to describe an overly large, ostentatious, sometimes poorly designed or constructed house, often found in a suburb or in new developments on traditionally rural land. McMansions are often built in multiples that are difficult to distinguish from one another, like assembly-line factory parts or fast-food hamburgers. [179] [180]

Morgan Spurlock's 2004 documentary film Super Size Me claimed that McDonald's food was contributing to the increase 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 supersize option, and was creating the adult Happy Meal. There was a documentary called Fat Head, which pointed out inconsistencies in Super Size Me. [ citation needed ]

In 2006, an unsanctioned McDonald's Video Game by Italian group Molleindustria was released online. It is a parody of the business practices of the corporate giant, taking the guise of a tycoon-style business simulation game. In the game, the player plays the role of a McDonald's CEO, choosing whether or not to use controversial practices like genetically altered cow feed, plowing over rainforests, and corrupting public officials. McDonald's issued a statement distancing itself from the game. [181]

In January 2014, McDonald's was accused of having used a series of tax maneuvers to avoid taxes in France. French authorities have billed McDonald's France in 2016 for 300 million euros for unpaid taxes on profit. [182]

In April 2020, McDonald's apologized after footage showing a notice that was being displayed inside one of its restaurants in China saying that "black people are not allowed to enter." [183]

In October 2020, the Azerbaijan branch of McDonald's was criticized for Facebook and Instagram posts endorsing Azerbaijan's military actions against Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. [184] While McDonald's restaurants exist in Armenia, as of January 2020, none of them were franchises of the global chain. [185] [186]

Company responses to criticism

In response to public pressure, McDonald's has sought to include more healthy choices in its menu and has introduced a new slogan to its recruitment posters: "Not bad for a McJob". [187] The word McJob, first attested in the mid-1980s [177] and later popularized by Canadian novelist Douglas Coupland in his book Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, has become a buzzword for low-paid, unskilled work with few prospects or benefits and little security. McDonald's disputes this definition of McJob. In 2007, the company launched an advertising campaign with the slogan "Would you like a career with that?" on Irish television, asserting that its jobs have good prospects.

In an effort to respond to growing consumer awareness of food provenance, the fast-food chain changed its supplier of both coffee beans and milk. UK chief executive Steve Easterbrook said: "British consumers are increasingly interested in the quality, sourcing, and ethics of the food and drink they buy". [188] In a bid to tap into the ethical consumer market, [189] McDonald's switched to using coffee beans taken from stocks that are certified by the Rainforest Alliance, a conservation group. Additionally, in response to pressure, McDonald's UK started using organic milk supplies for its bottled milk and hot drinks, although it still uses conventional milk in its milkshakes, and in all of its dairy products in the United States. [190] According to a report published by Farmers Weekly in 2007, the quantity of milk used by McDonald's could have accounted for as much as 5 percent of the UK's organic milk output. [191]

McDonald's announced in May 2008 that, in the United States and Canada, it has switched to using cooking oil that contains no trans fats for its french fries, and canola-based oil with corn and soy oils, for its baked items, pies, and cookies, by end of 2018. [192]

With regard to acquiring chickens from suppliers who use CAK/CAS methods of slaughter, McDonald's says that it needs to see more research "to help determine whether any CAS system in current use is optimal from an animal welfare perspective." [193]

Environmental record

Since McDonald's began receiving criticism for its environmental practices in the 1970s, it has significantly reduced its use of materials. [194] For instance, an "average meal" in the 1970s—a Big Mac, fries, and a drink—required 46 grams (1.6 oz) of packaging today, it requires 25 grams (0.88 oz), a 46 percent reduction. [195] In addition, McDonald's eliminated the need for intermediate containers for cola by using a delivery system that pumps syrup directly from the delivery truck into storage containers, saving two million pounds (910 tonnes) of packaging annually. [196] Weight reductions in packaging and products, as well as increased usage of bulk packaging, ultimately decreased packaging by twenty-four million pounds (11,000 tonnes) annually. [197] McDonald's efforts to reduce solid waste by using less packaging and by promoting the use of recycled materials were recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. [198]

In 1990, McDonald's worked with the Environmental Defense Fund to stop using "clam shell"-shaped styrofoam food containers to store its food products. [199]

In April 2008, McDonald's announced that 11 of its restaurants in Sheffield, England, were engaged in a biomass trial program that cut its waste and carbon footprint by half in the area. In this trial, waste from the restaurants was collected by Veolia Environmental Services and used to produce energy at a power plant. McDonald's announced plans to expand this project, although the lack of biomass power plants in the United States would prevent the adoption of this plan as a national standard there anytime soon. [200] In addition, in Europe, McDonald's has been recycling vegetable grease by converting it to fuel for its diesel trucks. [201]

In an effort to reduce energy usage by 25 percent in its restaurants, McDonald's opened a prototype restaurant in Chicago in 2009, intending to use the model in its other restaurants throughout the world. Building on past efforts, specifically a restaurant it opened in Sweden in 2000 that was the first to incorporate green ideas, McDonald's designed the Chicago site to save energy by managing stormwater, using skylights for more natural lighting, and installing partitions and tabletops made from recycled goods, among other measures. [202]

In 2012, McDonald's announced they would trial replacing styrofoam coffee cups with an alternative material. [203]

In 2018, McDonalds switched from plastic straws to paper ones in Ireland and the United Kingdom [204] and Australia [205] in an effort to reduce plastic pollution. Followed by the Netherlands in 2020, [206] and Germany in 2021. [207] However, a subsequent investigation by The Sun found that the new paper straws were not recyclable. [204] Disabled activists criticized that the shift away from plastic straws is ableist, as certain disabilities result in the loss of gross or fine motor control, thus would prevent a customer from safely lifting, balancing or drinking from a cup. [208]

In January 2021, McDonald's Arcos Dorados, the largest independent McDonald's franchise in the world which operates stores in Latin America and the Caribbean, introduced food trays manufactured by UBQ Materials that use a mix of food waste by-products to reduce the use of virgin plastic. [209]

McDonald's uses a corn-based bioplastic to produce containers for some products. The environmental benefits of this technology are controversial, with critics noting that biodegradation is slow and produces greenhouse gases, and that contamination of traditional plastic waste streams with bioplastics can complicate recycling efforts. [210]

Studies of litter have found that McDonald's is one of the most littered brands worldwide. In 2012, a Keep Australia Beautiful study found that McDonald's was the most littered brand in Queensland. [211] [212] In 2009, Keep Britain Tidy likewise found McDonald's to be the leading producer of fast-food litter on British streets, accounting for 29% of the total. [213] An early protest against this practice was "Operation Send-It-Back", launched by London Greenpeace in 1994 in response to the company's targeting of activists in the McLibel Trial. [214] Participants in Operation Send-It-Back returned 30 sacks of McDonald's litter to the company. [214] In the 2010s, similar individual protests took place in New Zealand [215] and England. [216]

Legal cases

McDonald's has been involved in a number of lawsuits and other legal cases, most of which involved trademark disputes. The company has threatened many food businesses with legal action unless it drops the Mc or Mac from trading names.

European Union

In April 2017, Irish fast-food chain Supermac's submitted a request to the European Union Property Office to cancel McDonald's owned trademarks within the European Union, claiming that McDonald's engaged in "trademark bullying registering brand names. which are simply stored away in a war chest to use against future competitors", after the trademarks had prevented Supermac's from expanding out of Ireland. The EUIPO ruled in Supermac's favor, finding that McDonald's "has not proven genuine use" of many trademarks, canceling McDonald's owned trademarks such as "Big Mac" and certain "Mc"-related trademarks within the European Union. [217] [218] [219]

Burger King responded by trolling McDonald's by giving their sandwiches names like "Like a Big Mac But Juicier", "Like a Big Mac, But Actually Big" and "Big Mac-ish But Flame-Grilled of Course". [220]


On September 8, 2009, McDonald's Malaysian operations lost a lawsuit to prevent another restaurant from calling itself McCurry. McDonald's lost in an appeal to Malaysia's highest court, the Federal Court. [221]

On December 29, 2016, McDonald's Malaysia issued a statement that said only certified halal cakes are allowed inside its restaurants nationwide. [222]


In April 2007, in Perth, Western Australia, McDonald's pleaded guilty to five charges relating to the employment of children under 15 in one of its outlets and was fined A$8,000. [223]

United Kingdom

The longest-running legal action of all time in the UK was the McLibel case against two defendants who criticized a number of aspects of the company. The trial lasted 10 years and called 130 witnesses. The European Court of Human Rights deemed that the unequal resources of the litigants breached the defendants rights to freedom of speech and biased the trial. The result was widely seen as a "PR disaster" for McDonald's. [224]

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