Some Things About McDonald’s You Might Want To Know Before Your Next Order
Before McDonald’s became a global fast-food chain, it was a humble barbecue restaurant. The strategic decisions it made over the years eventually helped it succeed.
Their creative and forward-thinking business practices helped transform the company into the behemoth it is today. Read on and discover behind-the-scenes tidbits that made McDonald’s a winner in the fast-food game.
McDonald’s Coke Really Does Taste Different
Have you ever noticed that the Coke in McDonald’s tastes different? It’s actually sweeter and contains less caffeine. Did McDonald’s dilute the concoction?
The decision to increase the sweetness and decrease the caffeine was made to allow everyone, regardless of age, to enjoy Coke. McDonald’s mixes the Coke syrup they receive with in-store soda water.
Broccoli Pink Bubble-Gum
McDonald’s makes sure they are always putting out new products that people will find interesting to eat. In 2014 they decided to create a snack that was 100% healthy for kids. They produced broccoli that tasted a lot like bubblegum. The point was to encourage kids to eat more vegetables.
Though McDonald’s hired experts to produce this unique food item, children found the pink broccoli very weird. Consequently, McDonald’s vegetable experiment didn’t get past the laboratory doors.
Japan’s One Of A Kind McDonald’s
McDonald’s makes sure it adapts its menu to the world’s different palates. Doing so is an effective way for them to win over customers. Here’s an example of meals that are only available in Japan.
They also adapted their mascot to the Japanese market. While Ronald McDonald is known all over the world, its Japanese version is “Donarudo Makudonarudo.” His name is written in Katakana and is roughly equivalent to “Donald McDonald.”
McDonald’s Friendship 500
It was during Expo ‘86 when McDonald’s built a restaurant on a barge. The Robert Allan Ltd company created one of five McDonald’s restaurants within the Expo grounds. This was done in order to show off advanced technologies and infrastructure. Though this 187-foot restaurant still exists, it is not well-maintained.
Nicknamed “the McBarge,” the structure has been resting in the Burrard Inlet since 1991. However, from December 2015 onwards, it was moored near industrial barges near an oil refinery. Currently, the old barge is on the Fraser River, inside a private property.
The Ban On Happy Meals
When San Francisco issued an ordinance that banned fast-food chains from providing complimentary toys with meals that did not pass nutritional guidelines, McDonald’s knew it would affect their bottom line.
McDonald’s decided to continue offering their Happy Meals but charged ten cents for each toy. Income from the sales was given to the Ronald McDonald House—the company’s children’s charity.
The Short-Lived McDonald’s Pizza
Believe it or not, McDonald’s actually sold pizzas from the 1980s to the early 1990s. Unfortunately, the McPizza was not a hit. Besides it not fitting the brand of the company, it was also not a fast-food item because it cooked a lot slower.
By the year 2000, most restaurants stopped serving pizza as it took 11 minutes to finish cooking. The only branch the McPizza is still available to buy at is in Orlando, Florida.
Queen Elizabeth’s McDonald’s
Who knew the late Queen Elizabeth II actually owned a McDonald’s? Technically, it was the Banbury Gateway shopping park that she owned, in which a McDonald’s was built.
Located in Buckinghamshire, locals and tourists alike swarm to this unique McDonald’s, knowing that it is owned by royalty. The restaurant offers fast food as well as fine dining. Consequently, it has become a much-loved tourist attraction.
McDonald’s Big-Named Employees
Some celebrities actually worked at McDonald’s before they hit it big. Actress Rachel was paid $6 per hour when she was a McDonald’s employee. Similarly, comedian Jerry Seinfeld was a McDonald’s staff member when he was in high school.
Playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda also worked for McDonald’s, as did singer and composer Pharrell Williams—the genius behind the hit song Happy. Williams was fired three times when he was a crew member of the fast-food giant.
The Szechuan Sauce
Szechuan sauce is a Chinese dipping sauce made with ground chili peppers, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and sesame oil. It is commonly served with many Chinese dishes, including hot pots. It is thicker than most Western-style hot sauces or spicy condiments. The name derives from the city of Sichuan in China, where it originated.
In the ‘90s, McDonald’s added Szechuan sauce to their dips, burgers, and pizzas. After the Disney movie Mulan was released; however, McDonald’s removed the sauce from their menus shortly after. A few years later, an episode of Rick and Morty mentioned McDonald’s former Szechuan sauce. It went viral and triggered a campaign, with fans asking McDonald’s to bring back the sauce. Eventually, McDonald’s brought it back briefly once more.
McDonald’s Original Mascot
Before the birth of the Golden Arches, McDonald’s used a mascot that became their logo. Before Willard Scott developed and played Ronald McDonald, Speedee was the first McDonald’s mascot. He was a character with a chef’s hat on his head, shaped like a hamburger.
Richard and Maurice McDonald designed Speedee as their first mascot. They named him Speedee because they wanted to promote their Speedee Service System. Speedee, unfortunately, resembled the Alka-Seltzer mascot named Speedy, patron saint of upset stomachs. That affects their marketing, which is why they changed it.
McDonald’s Monopoly Gone Wrong
We all know what Monopoly is and how it works. Some of us played it when we were young. However, it’s not meant to involve real money. McDonald’s changed all of that. Their Monopoly game was good marketing, but because real cash and prizes were involved, people were swarming to win the game, which inevitably produced cheaters.
One scammer cost McDonald’s about $24 million. It’s a story with so many twists that a documentary series title McMillions$ was created to depict the deception. Furthermore, a film directed by Ben Affleck and starring Matt Damon is also set to release in the future. All this real-world drama ended with an FBI sting.
Firing the Original Ronald McDonald
Ronald McDonald was the new mascot after Speedee, but did you know that the original Ronald McDonald was fired because his build was too unique? It’s insane, but we can confirm that it’s true. McDonald’s is now surprisingly strict when it comes to the people who play its characters.
Ronald has to be of a height and weight that make him seem uniform, no matter where in the world you encounter him. Anyone with unique proportions need not apply. If you win the role, you will be paid well, but this is on the condition of anonymity – you must never reveal that you play Ronald McDonald as a job. It’s almost like being a spy!
Justin Timberlake’s “I’m Lovin It”
“I’m Lovin It” is a song by Justin Timberlake, an American singer-songwriter. The music was developed as a jingle for McDonald’s. Timberlake and Pharrell Williams transformed the jingle into a single that had success on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 2 on April 29, 2002. It was Timberlake’s third US number-one single on the charts.
It was eventually certified platinum by the RIAA in December 2003. The single peaked at number 1 on both Billboard Pop Songs and Adult Contemporary charts. The song also received a Grammy Award nomination for “Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.”
Ray Kroc introduced the Hula Burger to McDonald’s in the 1960s as a vegetarian option. They served this during Lent because Catholics often fast and give up certain types of food and meat during this time. It was a way of ensuring those participating in Lent could still come to McDonald’s.
The Hula Burger consists of grilled pineapple on a bun with cheese. However, it started getting hot competition when the Filet-O-Fish burger arrived. Eventually, McDonald’s stopped making the Hula Burger altogether since it was clear that its replacement, the Filet-O-Fish, was gaining a lot more momentum.
Peanut Butter Sandwich
Have you ever wondered, what if the brothers Richard and Mac didn’t remodel their early menus? If that were the case, we would still be able to get peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at McDonald’s. So many other things would be different as well. The restaurant would be unrecognizable.
Their move of changing their menu to fit with the changing times helped them solidify their presence in the market. Now, people are used to McDonald’s having burgers, shakes, and fries. However, thanks to their quick reactions to societal changes, these core offerings are constantly evolving. Now that we think about it, though, a peanut butter sandwich would be delicious.
Banning Female Employees
If this were to happen today, McDonald’s would receive tremendous backlash from people all around the world. While this outdated hiring policy was clear gender discrimination, they believed it created an environment where families would feel more comfortable. They didn’t want to have teenage boys ogling female workers, so they just refused to hire female employees.
The ban persisted until the mid-to-late 1960s, when franchisees began insisting on a gender-balanced workforce. Even back when the ban was lifted, Kroc insisted that female employees be “flat-chested” and not operate the grill since they lacked the “stamina” for such hard work.
You can visit the largest McDonald’s in the world in Orlando, Florida. It is 64,000 square feet. The second-largest McDonald’s is situated in Berlin, Germany, and measures 55,000 square feet. Even compared to other massive McDonald’s, the Orlando restaurant is a monster.
You may also remember from earlier in the article that this location is the only one in the world that still serves pizza. Since it is so large, the restaurant can seat 700 people. It makes it possible to serve lots of customers quickly. It is less than three miles away from Disney World, so it gets thousands of tourists visiting daily.
Bobby Darin’s Case
McDonald’s faced a lawsuit from Bobby Darin’s family because of their character named Mac Tonight. The company failed to inform his family about it and failed to pay for rights to the song “Mack the Knife.” McDonald’s proposed a settlement of $50,000, which the family turned down.
There were conflicting reports about how Bobby Darin felt about the use of his music, but his widow says he would have been horrified at the character. In other words, there was no basis for using the work in the first place since Darin never permitted McDonald’s to use it and never would have agreed to it.
McDonald’s Is Banned in Some Countries
Some countries do not allow McDonald’s to cross their borders. The first country to ban McDonald’s was Iceland in 1996, after a dramatic increase in obesity rates. The ban lasted until 1999, when McDonald’s finally returned to Iceland after rethinking its menu and making healthier choices.
North Korea has officially banned McDonald’s since 2013. This country has a social system that only allows people to eat with their family or at restaurants with the government’s approval. They have never let foreign companies enter North Korea to do business, including McDonald’s.
The Big Mac was originally named the Aristocrat, and it was the invention of two brothers, Jim Delligatti and Michael Delligatti. They were twins, although not identical. They worked at their father’s franchise in the Pittsburgh area called Big Mac Drive-In.
Esther Glickstein, an employee at McDonald’s Corporate, suggested using Big Mac instead of The Aristocrat. The Big Mac received such a positive response from customers that it was made available nationwide in 1968. A center slice of bread is used to support the contents and avoid spilling.
The Most Expensive Flop
The Arch Deluxe burger quickly phased out after failing to gain traction despite a large marketing effort. It is regarded as one of the most costly flops of all time. However, it was covered up so well that most people don’t even know that it once existed.
Despite offering a quarter pound of beef, lettuce, tomato, American cheese, onions, ketchup, and a secret mustard and mayonnaise sauce, the Arch Deluxe Burger did not catch people’s attention. It was a tragic flop, but this incident made McDonald’s more careful about the product they planned on introducing in the future.
McDonald’s Golden Card
Many people are surprised when they hear about the Golden Card. Whoever owns a golden card is granted unlimited food from McDonald’s. Few people are known to hold a golden card, but we do know of some. Warren Buffett, who is the sixth richest man in the world, has a golden card. And though we don’t have all the details, many other people have one as well.
Rob Lowe is another one of the lucky few to have a golden card. The actor was popular for his role in the 80’s movies St. Elmo’s Fire, The Outsiders, and Porky’s. He spoke about his card during his TV guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2015.
The Legendary Donald Gorske
Donald Gorske has eaten a big mac almost every day since 1972. That’s right, for 40+ years, Donald Gorske has eaten nothing but McDonald’s. He ate one every day for over 30 years before finally quitting. When he was asked why he stopped, he said his cholesterol was too high and that the food was “a real killer.”
He had more on his mind than just health issues. Donald Gorske also claims that children who eat McDonald’s are more likely to get obese and develop diabetes later in life because they lack an appreciation of foods like kale. For this reason, Donald wanted to teach children about healthier options by quitting his 30-year Big Mac habit. However, Gorske did achieve the Guinness World Record for most Big Macs eaten in a lifetime.
The Shamrock Shake is a minty milkshake with a seductive green hue that mint lovers adore. It’s a limited-edition product sold at McDonald’s around St. Patrick’s Day. But did you know that it wasn’t supposed to be mint flavored? According to Ronald McDonald, the Shamrock Shake was supposed to taste like the green M&M’s candy. Over time, however, the mint taste became more popular, and it stuck.
Grimace’s uncle, Uncle O’Grimacey, was once used to promote Shamrock Shakes at McDonald’s, but he has since been phased out. McDonald’s first launched the Shamrock Sundae in 1980, and it was a blend of vanilla ice cream with minty green Shamrock syrup on top.
McDonald’s in India
McDonald’s has a way of embracing the culture of the country they are in, just like what they did in Japan. In India, the Big Mac is called a Maharaja Mac. They changed the name to meet the cultural needs of Indian society.
That’s not the end of the changes made by McDonald’s stores in India. They also tailored their menus to give respect to Hindu beliefs. Instead of beef patties, they serve chicken or veggie patties. They even change the spices and cooking methods used in most stores to accommodate Indian taste preferences.
Mayor McCheese Disappearance
Mayor McCheese is a well-known character from the McDonald’s mascot universe. The character, who presides as a mayor of McDonaldland, was based on H.R. Pufnstuf. He was a popular character that vanished because of a lawsuit filed against McDonald’s.
McDonald’s was sued by H.R. Pufnstuf founders Sid and Marty Krofft, who claimed that McDonaldland was a copy of H.R. Pufnstuf. On May 17, 2007, Mayor McCheese was dropped, only to return years later with many changes to his appearance.
Quarter Pounder Over Third Pounder
A&W introduced the third-pound burger to rival the quarter-pound burger. They also made their food slightly more healthy. A&W created a campaign to promote the new burger. However, all the promotions were not enough. People kept coming back to McDonald’s and ordering the quarter-pound burger.
Most people preferred the McDonald’s quarter-pound burger because it was cheaper, bigger, and more convenient. Though the third-pounder was healthier, people found it unattractive and expensive. Apparently, many didn’t understand that a third-pound patty is larger than a quarter-pound patty. So, the price difference didn’t make sense. Perhaps A&W should have offered math lessons in tandem with their ad campaign.
McDonald’s in Sedona, Arizona
The natural beauty of Sedona, Arizona, is breathtaking. The city of Sedona’s Planning and Preservation Commission has a set of goals for future developments. Maintaining the natural beauty and character of the town is a priority. They have rules on how a business can present itself, especially when it comes to exterior colors.
Businesses are not allowed to use colors that clash with nature’s elements. In most cases, companies must use neutral colors such as white or brown, along with limited earth tones. To blend in with nature, McDonald’s had to change the color of their Golden Arches to turquoise blue instead of the traditional yellow that stands out against nature during sunset or sunrise.
The first McDonald’s restaurant Ray Kroc opened is now a museum. The McDonald’s Store Museum has been flooded due to bad weather in the Midwest and increasing water levels in the Des Plaines River.
McDonald’s reconstructed the property using the same designs after the previous shop was demolished in 1984. It’s decorated with an old-school single-arch, Speedee road sign, and according to reports, original 1950s kitchen equipment as well as a slew of mannequins dressed in vintage fast-food uniforms.
McDonald’s (Almost) Went to Space
NASA’s affiliate company, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, wanted to partner with McDonald’s for a very specific reason: to land a spacecraft on an asteroid. NASA wanted to get McDonald’s on board with the project because they knew McDonald’s had a powerful impact on children. They tried to get them involved in space exploration to show all their young customers that they could do anything if they put their minds to it.
They brainstormed the idea at a very small meeting of JPL employees, discussing what an ideal partnership would be for both parties. Afterward, they presented it at a much larger meeting where all departments were present for discussion and voting. In the end, they canceled the project because it went over their budget.
US McDonald’s Store
In the United States, there are around 13,000 McDonald’s restaurants. It demonstrates how much Americans enjoy McDonald’s and how they eat. In the lower 48 states, McDonald’s is never more than 145 miles away. There is no reason for anyone to be concerned about not having a McDonald’s nearby.
The furthest location is in the Nevada Desert and South Dakota. No matter how far or near a McDonald’s store is located, people are still more likely to go there than anywhere else. It is because of the convenience, the taste, and the nostalgia. They can eat there any time they want without having to go very far.
The McDonald’s Beehive in Sweden
For years, McDonald’s has been at the top of the fast-food industry. It is a global brand with its own set of rules, and it has always been straightforward in promoting fast food. The golden arches are omnipresent in almost every country, but what about Sweden?
Instead of catering to humans, there’s a McDonald’s in Sweden that caters to bees. That’s right, the “McHive” is a miniature model of a McDonald’s restaurant that is actually a beehive on the inside. This is to show McDonald’s support for saving the bees. Over five McDonald’s locations in Sweden now include beehives on their roofs to support the movement.
McDonald’s Only Ski Store
In the North of Stockholm, you can find the only McDonald’s located at a ski resort. If you visit Lindvallen Ski Resort, you will find not only an amazing ski slope but also a McDonald’s with the distinction of sitting at the highest point in Stockholm.
The Swedish McDonald’s was not planned as an attraction to draw tourists. Rather, it was built to service the employees of Lindvallen Ski Resort, which is operational 365 days a year. It has no indoor seating and is often inaccessible by car during wintertime.
The Problem with Plastic Straws
Straws made out of plastic can harm animals and damage the environment. However, long before people started campaigning against the use of plastic straws, McDonald’s faced an entirely different form of complaint.
In 1984, they changed the color scheme of their straws, and it caused turmoil in the Gulf of Mexico. Small fishing operations there had used the previous version of the straw to catch Spanish mackerel, but a simple change in color from McDonald’s was all it took for the fish to have no interest in the lures made from their straws. It’s so wild to think about how such a small choice could have such large flow-on effects.
You may imagine that McDonald’s has a toys factory because they give out more toys than other businesses. McDonald’s is the world’s largest chain restaurant, and franchises have been giving out toys since 1979. Surely, though, companies like Walmart and Target sell more toys. Right?
The truth of the matter is that McDonald’s is indeed the largest distributor of toys in the world! They once considered handing out books instead of plastic toys, and if they’d made this move, they would have become the world’s largest book distributor. Amazing!
McDonald’s PR Problems
In the mid-1980s, McDonald’s launched the McDLT. It was a plain burger with lettuce and tomato, but it arrived in a styrofoam box that kept the lettuce and tomato separated from the beef patty, keeping the veggies cool and the meat warm.
With any business, PR can be a nightmare. Even McDonald’s isn’t immune to horrible PR problems, and they were hit with a massive one involving the McDLT. The country was growing more environmentally concerned, and the double-container did double the damage. So, McDonald’s had no choice but to ditch it.
The Bermuda Ban
Did you know there’s no McDonald’s in Bermuda? This island nation has no desire to be overrun by corporate expansion, so the government brought in the Prohibited Restaurants Act (1977) to keep chains like McDonald’s off the island.
One McDonald’s restaurant did manage to sneak onto the island in 1985, opening at a US Naval Station. However, that station closed in 1995, and the sneaky McDonald’s went along with it. Now, Bermuda is back to being free of large corporate franchises.
Satanic Cult Rumors
McDonald’s has been involved in several controversies, but this one is out of this world. McDonald’s had to defend themselves from a rumor about their franchise founder Ray Kroc being involved in a satanic cult. It was eventually dismissed because it was not true.
Since the cult rumors started circulating, they did an extensive review of all their franchises to ensure there wasn’t an underground satanic cult running away with McDonald’s secrets (a ridiculous idea). This is an excellent example of the destructive power of rumors.
Bigger McDonald’s Menu
It is a risk for McDonald’s to create large products on the menu. Why? Because of their mandated 90 second turnaround time. They would have to find ways to keep up with the same prep time for their big menu. The McWrap is an example of a product that consumes extra time that McDonald’s employees just don’t have.
Most people know that McDonald’s has begun changing its classic menus in response to growing customer demands for healthier options. Still, have you considered how this might affect your order? It may take more time to prepare some of the new menu items, which can affect your total wait time.
Ray Kroc and Walt Disney met before they became successful. They both trained to be ambulance drivers. There was a lot of work to do, so they communicated via mail. The two men finally met again when Kroc went to Disney’s office.
The meeting lasted only half an hour. However, within five years, Walt Disney had sold his company and retired while Kroc was at the top of his game, expanding McDonald’s into a multi-billion dollar enterprise with around 39,000 outlets in more than 100 countries around the world. Both men carry an incredible legacy to their name.