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Brand history: McDonald’s

Author: 30.03.2019 | brand history
What was the secret of the first French fries with hamburger’s cost being 15 cents and why a flywheel of the first and only fast-food of 1960s wouldn’t have been set in motion if it hadn’t been for… mixers seller? Maurice and Richard (Mac and Dick) McDonalds, just like us, didn’t know answers to all these questions when they moved from New England to California in 1927. And behind the Great Depression was rubbing its hands expressively, at the edge of bringing to naught all of their aspirations. And then...

“Starting up was painfully slow going, like trying to ice skate on bare concrete…”

Ray Kroc, creator of McDonald’s chain

Assemblers of shooting scaffoldings at a TV-studio, truck drivers and cinema personnel. Myth of cooks being instigators of the fast food trend is… really just a myth. Paltry income allowed brother to have one meal a day that being a gum-like hot dog from a stand on the other side of the street. As Dick himself recollects, that was as nearly as the only place where some resemblance of business glimmered.

These observations prompted them to the way towards opening an eating joint of their own. The road led through oceans of troubles, loans and, despite short-time popularity of McDonald’s Bar-B-Que, after World War II brothers were barely remaining afloat. It resulted in them transferring their business to a provincial town nearby San Bernardino railway station. And it was there, where from an ordinary eating joint, just McDonald’s then, their snack shop finally transformed into the establishment that it is easier to show than to characterize.

1954, 10 a.m. at San Bernardino. The town is dusty and languid with heat, lost in Californian desert some 60 miles away from Los Angeles. Men in snow-white and ironed shirts and in caps, equally glimmering with cleanness, fuss around a small café with an absurdly protuberating octagonal roof. At a guess, if it wasn’t for a suspiciously neat staff, a typical drive-in at a crossroad. Opening time 11 a.m. but despite a huge cushion of time, employees bustle feverishly, like starting pickpockets. Loaded shopping carts are being hastily dragged out from beneath awnings of an adjacent accommodation nearby – plain selection of potatoes, meat, milk cans and trays with buns. Meanwhile an unusually long stream of cars as for a provincial town manages to gather on the parking. Door opens simultaneously with the window meant for cars and together with them eyes of customers seemed to have widened in anticipation.

But most importantly, 52-yers old Ray Kroc was watching all of these with undivided attention. At that time he was a simple seller of multi-mixers. Not that bad given that in past he used to earn his living by dealing with even funnier good – carton cups. It was common curiosity that brought Kroc there. Establishment of McDonald brothers was the only one that was using not one but as much as eight multi-mixers at once. That, given number of attachments on each of them, allowed them cook 40 cocktails at the same time. This was incredible squandering as for restaurant business of 1960s.Photo 15minut.org

But, while watching the humming work, Kroc seemed to have forgotten mixer for an instance and froze, hardly believing prospects and most importantly potential income that such kind of eating joints open. “I felt like some latter-day Newton who’d just had an Idaho potato caromed off his skull”, - he will later tell students in one of the best business schools and colleges.

However, there was something truly unusual in San Bernardino of those times. At a closer look it became obvious that every fourth citizen relished 15-cent hamburgers from the brothers. At times even those who were simply passing by didn’t neglecting to take a turn.

In the establishment itself everyone without exception chewed and champed intensely, from local man of muscles in a joinery apron to some sort of drama-queen blonde in a yellow convertible.

Unlike not too ambitious brothers, Multi-mixer King realized at once that it was possible and necessary to spread this rush outside the town. Inexplicably, the dealer, who was getting ready for a retirement, knew and believed that the innovation in the field of cooking and serving will turn out a goldmine, so he began his actions.

After short negotiations he bought rights for franchise openings all over the country from McDonald brothers who were unwilling to expand. According to a not really fair agreement, Ray received merely 1.9% of all revenues and part of it was, again, going to brother as the authors of the idea…

But he wasn’t afraid of low income – he as nearly as became inflamed with passion for the idea of developing this business. Interestingly, when opening his first restaurant of the chain in Des Plaines, suburb of Chicago, Ray was perfectly honest and punctiliously following the technology of the fast food that the brothers chose for themselves. Without knowing it, thank to desert air of California, in adjacent accommodations they created for potatoes exact dry conditions that helped make them so “amazingly crispy”. However Kroc had to provide for similar conditions in a more humid northern climate manually. With the help of potato breeding experts he elaborated a special potato ripening system in the basement. Thank to it the “oldest” tubers were the first in line to the kitchen while younger ones were blown at by a huge electric-powered fan.Photo chicagoredcrossstories.wordpress.com

Ed McLuckie, manager of the first McDonald’s franchise, couldn’t keep his surprise and perplexity: “We lavish so much attention on potatoes, - he said, - that I even feel uncomfortable frying them.”

See also: Brand's history: Coca-Cola

Soon cooking recipe was added with blanching and after being double-fried in oil potatoes became… even tastier than at San Bernardino! Sure enough, business perked but it seemed more like sacrifice from Kroc at first. Mainstay of the whole business was a couple of enthusiasts like Harry Sonneborn who agreed to work for Kroc against 100 dollars and Kroc himself who used to dedicate almost 24 hours a day to the chain.

Because of McDonald’s restaurants not only did he lose normal sleep but also nice relationship with his spouse. But all bets were off. Gluttonous chaps of restaurant business appreciated sacrifices of this “bunch of nut-cases” as people used to call them behind their backs, and there they were: three of Ray’s franchises were sold to Los Angeles, Fresno and Reseda.mcdonalds-1024x768.jpgPhoto todaysparent.com

There was more to come. In 1961 Ray bought the company from apathetic Mac and Dick, who weren’t too interested in the chain’s development, against 2.7 million dollars that he took on a loan. Almost immediately designer Jimmy Schindler elaborated familiar M-shaped logo. And in merely 4 years over seven hundred American McDonald’s branches were operating in the M’s light and they had managed to sell… 1,000,000,000 hamburgers! By the end of the next year Kroc earned respect for himself and his stocks at New York Stock Exchange which was some sort of scene from futuristic utopian novel as for fast foods of those times.

Tentacles of Macdonald’s enmeshed the whole world and, why lie to ourselves, the world never actually stood up against. First tiny restaurant in Tokyo was erected over less than 48 sleepless hours although normally it averagely took three months to build a restaurant of the chain.

First fast food within the territory of formers USSR was opened in 1990 in Moscow and triggered an improvised “demonstration” – number of people in the queue to it reached 30 thousand persons. In Ukraine “potatoes & hamburgers” took root a little later, in 1997. Then again, it got fairly deep because later branches of our capital made it to TOP 100 most attended establishments of the chain.

Success of the Kroc’s creation is in its omnitude and availability. McDonald’s, despite common fuss around fast foods being harmful, has always tried to adjust and fit into environment. In India, Maharaja Mac is made of lamb’s meat, in Jerusalem hamburgers are kosher and in states that profess Islam, alongside specially-cooked food, there is complete absence of pictures of Ronald McDonald, who became the company’s face as far back as in 1963.Photo tbo.co

“Look for the Golden Arches” was the company’s first motto. In case you’re just a client or a consumer, you can stop there. But if you secretly want to create a business empire of your own, no matter if you start with carton cups, mixers or 15-cent hamburgers, than here is an advice quoted from Kroc.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Cover photo rau.ua

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