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37 Surprising Facts to Know About McDonald's History

On January 20, 2017, The Founder premiered in theaters nationwide, telling the story of the McDonald's history. With Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc (more on him in a second) and Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch as the McDonald's brothers, it seems that America has finally realized the (slightly exaggerated, fit-to-movie) history of the beloved fast food restaurant chain.

While we all know how tasty this McDonald's ice cream milkshakes and cheeseburgers are and how convenient the drive-thru and McCafe are, there's a lot more to the story of this fast-food chain.

Let's get on to some trivia facts so you can finally win Trivia Night.

History of McDonald's

1. The first McDonald's restaurant opened in San Bernardino, California in 1940 and was a drive-up hamburger stand, created by the McDonald brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald.

2. This McDonald's restaurant didn't have an interior dining area and was designed to fit curbside dining.

3. The McDonald brothers were first-generation Americans born to Irish immigrants living in New Hampshire. The brothers moved to California in 1920.

4. In 1948, the brothers introduced the "Speedee Service System", which would become the basis of the modern fast-food industry and was slightly altered from the White Castle burger chain's idea that was introduced about twenty years before.

5. Speedee was the original mascot of the hamburger chain, but was replaced with Ronald McDonald in 1967.

6. Ray Kroc joined the McDonald brothers in 1954, one year after the McDonald brothers launched the first franchise location. What ensued was a bitter battle of ownership between the McDonald brothers and Kroc himself. Spoiler: Kroc ended up winning.

7. The first McDonald's franchise location was in Phoenix, Arizona and featured the Golden Arches, which were later trademarked in 1961. The Golden Arches as an 'M' wasn't trademarked until 1968.

8. Ray Kroc encouraged the brothers to expand aggressively and though the McDonald brothers were not particularly gung-ho, Kroc won out and became the foundation of the McDonald's Corporation.

9. Kroc's franchisee location in Des Plaines, Illinois was the first restaurant under McDonald's, Inc.

10. In 1961, Kroc purchased the company from the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million - each brother received $1 million after taxes along with an annual royalty of 1.9 percent.

11. It was under Kroc's strict guidelines for each franchise that the success of McDonald's bloomed with extremely detailed cleaning guidelines and burger production rules. Every single menu item (Every McFlurry, every Quarter Pounder) was to be made the exact same in any single location, from Australia to Moscow to Chicago.

12. In 1974, Kroc retired as the CEO of McDonald's, 20 years after joining the McDonald brothers.

13. The headquarters of McDonald's is located in Oak Brook, Illinois, partly because Kroc kept such a close eye over the Des Plaines location.

Money Matters

14. McDonald's serves about 68 million customers each day, though some forecasters believe Starbucks will soon outpace McDonald's as the world's most valuable restaurant company, according to Bloomberg. That's 1 percent of the world's population enjoying Egg McMuffins.

15. Nearly one in eight workers in the U.S. have at one time been employed by McDonald's.

16. McDonald's is the largest private operator of playgrounds in the U.S. and is the largest purchase of potatoes, apples, beef, and pork.

17. McDonald's sells about 75 hamburgers per second.

18. It is the 90th largest economy in the world and is richer than Mongolia, according to the SEC. If you included its franchise revenue, McDonald's is then the 68th largest economy in the world.

19. McDonald's employs about 761,000 people worldwide, which is more than the population of Luxembourg.

20. In 1979, the Chicken McNuggets became so popular, McDonald's outpaced the chicken supply. The pork McRib was invented in response.

21. McDonald's focuses on aggressive marketing to young children with Happy Meals and the toy production so that the consumers develop trust and reliance early on from the McDonald's menu.

22. At least 5 percent of McDonald's revenue comes from soft drinks, especially relevant when you consider the scientific reasons that Coca-Cola tastes better at McDonald's.

23. There is a McDonald's in 119 countries in the world. There are only 196 countries overall.

24. The largest market for McDonald's outside of the U.S. is Japan, and the smallest location is in Japan at 492 square feet.

25. Every year, McDonald's buys more than 3.4 billion pounds of potatoes. Its best-selling product is its French fries, delicious dipped in ketchup.

26. In 2013, the Ronald McDonald House Charities raised about $450 million. There are almost 300 local chapters in 58 countries.

27. McDonald's was an early believer in Chipotle and invested in 1998. In 2006, the company owned 90 percent of Chipotle but sold its stake.

28. The Filet-o-Fish was how McDonald's kept customers visiting the chain during Lent in 1962. It's become a standby classic and 23 percent of all sales occur during Lent.

Pop Culture

29. McDonald's and NASA were once in talks to launch a planned mission to the asteroid known as 449 Hamburga, though it never panned out.

30. Celebrity spokespeople for McDonald's have included Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Jamie McMurray, Venus Williams, Yao Ming, Destiny's Child, Justin Timberlake, Ashanti, Cecil and Prince Fielder, Samuel L. Jackson, Prince, and Woody Allen. Oh, and Jason Alexander.

31. Every four hours, a new McDonald's opens around the world. I'm lovin' it.

32. The world's largest Big Mac is in Pennsylvania at the Big Mac Museum Restaurant. It is 14 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

33. Paris is the only location in the world where the arches are white and not golden. Special treatment, eh?

34. McDonald's has adapted its franchises to each specific location. For example, banana pie, chicken porridge, the McLobster roll, and the McRice burger are all at unique locations. In Germany, McDonald's even sells beer to wash down that Big Mac. In India, a lamb version of the Big Mac is available, known as the Maharaja Mac, as no beef products are sold there. And in Canada, they sell heart-shaped cookies.

35. The only other fictional character more universally recognized than Ronald McDonald is Santa Claus. Except in Japan, where Ronald McDonald is Donald McDonald.

36. The golden arches are the most recognized symbol in the world, even more so than the religious cross.

37. The Caesar salad at McDonald's is more fattening than the hamburger. Go figure.

This post was originally published on October 29, 2018.