History

The McDonald's Story

The McDonald Brothers
Dick and Mac McDonald moved to California to seek opportunities they felt unavailable in New England. Failing in the movie business, they subsequently proved successful in operating drive-in restaurants. In 1948 they took a risk by streamlining their operations and introducing their Speedee Service System featuring 15 cent hamburgers. The restaurant’s success led the brothers to begin franchising their concept—nine becoming operating restaurants.

 

McDonald's Restaurant in San Bernardino


McDonald brothers San Bernardino McDonald’s restaurant 1948-1955. It was in this restaurant that Dick and Mac McDonald perfected their Speedee Service System featuring a limited menu including fifteen cent hamburgers, shakes and fries.


McDonald's Franchise Brochure


McDonald brothers franchised brochure c. 1952. The brothers sold 14 franchises of which 10 became operating restaurants not including their original location in San Bernardino. 

Ray Kroc
A native Chicagoan, Ray Kroc left high school after his sophomore year to join the World War One Red Cross Ambulance Corps. The war ended before his unit was sent overseas with Ray returning home to earn a living as a musician and later selling paper cups. In 1939, he became the exclusive distributor of the Multimixer (a milkshake mixing machine). He visited the McDonald brothers in 1954 which led to him becoming their franchise agent. He opened up the first restaurant for McDonald’s System, Inc., a predecessor of McDonald’s Corp. in Des Plaines, Illinois in April, 1955. McDonald’s acquired the rights to the brother’s company in 1961 for $2.7 million.

 

Ray Kroc's First McDonald's Restaurant


Ray Kroc’s first McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois just prior to opening on April 15, 1955.


McDonald's Opening Newspaper Advertisement


Newspaper advertisement announcing the opening of Ray Kroc’s first McDonald’s. It was the first McDonald’s to be opened east of the Mississippi river. 


Going Global
Ray Kroc’s vision was that there would be 1,000 McDonald’s restaurants solely in the United States. Yet, McDonald’s continued to grow and expand into international markets beginning in 1967 opening in Canada and Puerto Rico. Today, the company has over 36,000 restaurants in over 100 nations. The most recent opening in Kazakhstan in 2016. 

McDonald's Restaurant in British Columbia


McDonald’s expanded into international markets with the opening in Canada of its restaurant in Richmond, British Columbia in June, 1967.

Visit McDonald's Restaurants

The Red And White
The McDonald brothers insisted that their architect design an attention catching building that would highlight their Speedee Service System. Architect Stanley Meson design of the “Red and White” did not disappoint. Feeling that the roof line was a bit too flat Dick McDonald added arches to the building.  A sign maker incorporated yellow neon into them creating the “Golden Arches”. The oldest McDonald’s Red and White (opened in 1953) still operating today is in Downey, California.

 

McDonald's Restaurant Blueprints


Early blueprints for signature McDonald’s Red and White restaurant with Speedee road sign. This building design was first used in 1953 until it was replaced by the Mansard Roof design in the late 1960s.


McDonald's Restaurant Construction


McDonald’s of DeKalb, Illinois shortly before its opening in May, 1960. 

Mansard Roof
McDonald’s introduced the new Mansard Roof Design in 1969 in Matteson, Illinois. Initially, many franchisees remodeled their existing Red and White buildings to reflect the new design. McDonaldland Parks (Play Places) and the Drive-Thru were added to the restaurant during the 1970s. The Mansard’s exterior underwent several changes during the intervening years.

McDonald's Restaurant with Mansard Roof


An adapted Mansard Roof of remodeled Red & White building 1970 features a traditional Speedee road sign.


Transition of the McDonald's Restaurants


McDonald’s in Fresno, California illustrating the transition from the Red and White—to its remodel—with the eventual opening of the Mansard design in the 1973.


McDonald's Restaurant Incorporating Existing Design

Today
McDonald’s restaurants feature designs that incorporate existing architecture and other unique features. The architecture of the McDonald’s continues to evolve to meet our customer’s expectations.

 

McDonald's Restaurant Incorporating Existing Design

Tell Me About...

Customers visit our restaurants every day. Here you will find some stories about everyday items found in our restaurants. Did you ever wonder if there are stories about the condiment cup? Pickles? 

The Story Behind the Little White Cup: AKA The Dunk Cup
McDonald’s World Famous Fries and ketchup—what a combination! When Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald’s restaurant in 1955, our fries were meant to be eaten alone, sans ketchup. The tomato based condiment was reserved solely for hamburgers and cheeseburgers.

Yet, despite the practice McDonald’s customers frequently asked for ketchup for their fries. One even wrote the company inquiring as to the reason for this practice. The response he received included “…it is the policy of McDonald’s that catsup not be served with French fries”. (I know its ketchup!) As McDonald’s restaurants expanded across the U.S. so did requests for ketchup with fries.

Southern California McDonald’s franchisees Don and Enid Dunkleman heeded their customers’ requests by creating “The Dunk Cup”. Their inspiration consisted of a modified small drink cup complete with a plastic drink lid. Each Dunk Cup containing ketchup was prepared in the morning and was placed in the refrigerator until a customer requested ketchup. Initially the Dunk Cup cost three cents or a nickel but shortly afterwards they were provided complimentary. To accommodate carry out orders ketchup packets were introduced in 1968. During the intervening years, the ubiquitous little white serving cup became a fixture in the restaurant for customers dining in.

 

McDonald's Dunk Cup
Don and Enid Dunkleman's McDonald's Restaurant

Timeline

   

1940

Dick and Mac McDonald open McDonald's Bar-B-Q restaurant on Fourteenth and E streets in San Bernardino, California. It is a typical drive-in featuring a large menu and car hop service.

   

1948

The McDonald brothers shut down their restaurant for three months for alterations. In December it reopens as a self-service drive-in restaurant. The menu is reduced to nine items: hamburger, cheeseburger, soft drinks, milk, coffee, potato chips and a slice of pie. The staple of the menu is the 15 cent hamburger.

   

1949

French Fries replace potato chips and debut Triple Thick Milkshakes on the McDonald's menu.

   

1954

Multimixer salesman Ray Kroc visits McDonald's in San Bernardino intending to sell the brothers more Multimixers. The 52 year old Kroc is fascinated by the operation. He learns from the brothers that they are looking for a nationwide franchising agent. He has an epiphany and is determined that his future would be in hamburgers.

McDonald's 1955 logo  

1955

Kroc opens his first McDonald's in Des Plaines, Illinois on April 15. The attention getting red and white tiled building with the Golden Arches was designed by architect Stanley Meston in 1953. First day sales are $366.12.

   

1956

Fred Turner, future McDonald's Chairman is hired to work as a counter man for the Des Plaines McDonald's. He would soon become the head of McDonald's Operations defining the quality, service and cleanliness that continue to this day.

   

1961

Hamburger University opens in the basement of the Elk Grove Village, Illinois, McDonald's restaurant. Graduates receive Bachelor of Hamburgerology degrees.

McDonald's 1961 logo  

1961

McDonald’s System, Inc. purchases the rights from the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million.

   

1965

The Filet-O-Fish sandwich was the first item added to the national menu. Created by Lou Groen, McDonald's Cincinnati franchisee to help build volume in the predominately Roman Catholic community in which his store was located.

McDonald's 1968 logo  

1968

The Big Mac, developed by Owner/Operator Jim Delligatti of Pittsburgh, is added to the national menu.

   

1973

The Quarter Pounder and the Quarter Pounder with Cheese are added to the menu.

   

1974

The first Ronald McDonald House opens in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1973, Fred Hill, a football player with the Philadelphia Eagles, had the need for such a facility at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, where his child was being treated for leukemia. Hill’s dilemma led to the first Ronald McDonald House.

   

1975

The Egg McMuffin, created by Owner/Operator Herb Peterson of Santa Barbara, California is added to the national menu.

McDonald's 1983 logo  

1983

Chicken McNuggets are introduced into all domestic U.S. restaurants.

   

1984

Ray Kroc, Founder and Senior Chairman of the Board of McDonald's Corporation, dies on January 14.

McDonald's 1990 logo  

1990

On January 31, the first McDonald’s restaurant in Moscow opens. Located in Pushkin Square, more than 30,000 customers were served on opening day!

   

1993

The world’s first McCafe´ opens in Melbourne, Victoria Australia.

   

1995

McFlurry Desserts, invented by Ron McLellan, O/O Canada are added to McDonald’s Canada menu.

McDonald's 2002 logo  

2002

McDonald’s published its first ever Social Responsibility Report on April 15, 2002.

   

2003

McDonald’s first global ad campaign, “i’m lovin’ it” is launched in Munich, Germany on September 2.

   

2015

McDonald’s USA launched All Day Breakfast.

McDonald's 2017 logo  

2017

Global McDelivery Day is celebrated on July 26 to support the global launch of McDelivery with UberEATS.