6 Mar
2009
Posted in: Brands
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History of Mcdonald’s


McDonald’s pioneered the concept of fast food and are best known for their hamburgers and strong branding which is known in 119 nations around the planet. The Golden Arches are their most recognizable brand closely followed by the Ronald McDonald clown character.

Two brothers Dick and Mac Mcdonald started the McDonald’s brand in California in 1940 after moving their hotdog stand known as Airdrome from Monrovia Airport to a section of Route 66 at San Bernadino.

Mcdonalds Logo

Noticing the hamburgers were their most popular product, the brothers reinvented their restaurant in 1948 using their Speedee Service System, a concept that pioneered the fast food industry by creating a production line of hamburgers that were prepared before being ordered, in complete contrast to most diners that only prepared food after the customer had placed their order.

The McDonald’s system created history and allowed them to undercut competitors by as much as 50%. Increasing volumes allowed the brothers to further reduce costs from economies of scale, an advantage that continues to work for McDonald’s today.

A significant development in the history of McDonald’s was the entry of Ray Kroc into the business who bought the rights to expand the McDonald’s concept outside of California and Arizona, and quickly built the restaurant chain and by 1959 over 100 restaurants were in operation.

In 1961 Ray Kroc buys out the McDonald brothers, but the negotiation doesn’t go well and the McDonald brothers lose all rights and royalties to the brand they started. The parting of ways between Kroc and the McDonald brothers was acrimonious, leading to Kroc building and then officiating at the opening of a new McDonald’s diner very close to the last remaining store owned by the McDonald brothers.

Ronald Mcdonald

This move has been perceived by historians and biographers as incredibly petty, and likened to kicking a man when he’s down. The McDonald’s Corporation denies any vindictive behavior on the part of Kroc, preferring to write the McDonald brothers out of the corporate history. McDonald family members have written about the brothers deal with Kroc and appeared on talk shows to promote their side of the story.

Sometime in 1961 McDonald’s Corporation pioneers the training of it’s franchise owners with the opening of Hamburger University, an innovation that is credited with maintaining manager and franchisee loyalty despite a highly competitive market.

The rest of the 1960s saw the introduction of Ronald McDonald as the face of the McDonald’s brand, and the release of the Big Mac burger which has grown to become McDonald’s most popular burger. By the 1970s McDonald’s Corporation had begun giving back to the community with the founding of the Ronald McDonald House charity.




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