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. At the San Bernardino location, Dick and Mac McDonald perfected their Speedee Service System featuring a limited menu including fifteen cent hamburgers, shakes and fries. The brothers sold 14 franchises of which 10 became operating restaurants not including their original location in San Bernardino.
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. In 1955, Kroc opened the first McDonald’s east of the Mississippi river.
[Kroc] 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 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.
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.
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. This building design was first used in 1953 until it was replaced by the Mansard Roof design in the late 1960s.
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 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 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.
1940 - McDonald’s Is Founded
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.
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.
French Fries replace potato chips and debut Triple Thick Milkshakes on the McDonald's menu.
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.
1955 - The First McDonald’s Opens
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.
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.
Hamburger University opens in the basement of the Elk Grove Village, Illinois, McDonald's restaurant. Graduates receive Bachelor of Hamburgerology degrees.
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.
The Big Mac, developed by Owner/Operator Jim Delligatti of Pittsburgh, is added to the national menu.
The Quarter Pounder and the Quarter Pounder with Cheese are added to the menu.
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.
The Egg McMuffin, created by Owner/Operator Herb Peterson of Santa Barbara, California is added to the national menu.
Chicken McNuggets are introduced into all domestic U.S. restaurants.
Ray Kroc, Founder and Senior Chairman of the Board of McDonald's Corporation, dies on January 14.
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.
The world’s first McCafé opens in Melbourne, Victoria Australia.
McFlurry Desserts, invented by Ron McLellan, O/O Canada are added to McDonald’s Canada menu.
McDonald’s published its first ever Social Responsibility Report on April 15, 2002.
McDonald’s first global ad campaign, “i’m lovin’ it” is launched in Munich, Germany on September 2.
McDonald’s USA launched All Day Breakfast.
Global McDelivery Day is celebrated on July 26 to support the global launch of McDelivery with UberEATS.
McDonald’s opens its first net zero-designed restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort, which creates enough renewable energy on-site to cover 100% of its energy needs on a net annual basis.
More in Who We Are
Our Mission & Values
Our purpose is to feed and foster communities, now more than ever.Read More
Our Growth Pillars
We’re building on our strong foundations to ensure we have long-term success.Read More
We embrace the opportunity to lead by example and effect meaningful change.Read More