Ray Kroc, at 52 years old, invested his entire life savings to become the exclusive distributor of a milk shake maker called the Multimixer. Hearing about the McDonald's hamburger stand in California owned by Dick & Mac McDonald running eight Multimixers at a time, he packed up his car and headed West. It was 1954. Ray Kroc had never seen so many people served so quickly. He pitched the idea of opening up several restaurants to the McDonald brothers, convinced that he could sell eight of his Multimixers to each and every one. "Who could we get to open them for us?" Dick McDonald said. Well," Kroc answered, "what about me?" Ray Kroc opened the Des Plaines, Illinois restaurant in 1955 and never looked back. In 1965 McDonald's went public with the company's first offering on the stock exchange. In 1967, the first McDonald's restaurant outside the United States opened in Richmond, British Columbia. In 1968, the Big Mac® sandwich was introduced, followed by the Egg McMuffin® breakfast sandwich in 1973. Milestones and accomplishments have followed ever since. Today, there are tens of thousands of McDonald's restaurants serving millions of people daily around the world. The incredible growth and success of McDonald's can be summed up with the first thought that went through Ray Kroc's mind when he first saw McDonald's: "This will go anyplace."
1937: Brothers Dick and Mac McDonald open a hot dog stand called The Airdrome at the airport in Monrovia, California.
1940: The brothers move The Airdrome building to Downe, California, where they open the first McDonald's restaurant, on U.S. Route 66, at 14th and E St., on May 15. Its menu consists of 25 items, mostly barbecue. As was common at the time, they employed around 20 carhops. It became a popular and highly profitable teen hangout.
1948: After noting that almost all of their profits came from hamburgers, the brothers closed the restaurant for several months to implement their innovative "Speedee Service System", a streamlined assembly line for hamburgers. The carhops are fired, and when the restaurant reopens it sells only hamburgers, milkshakes, and french fries. At 15 cents, the burgers are about half as expensive as at standard diners, and they are served immediately. The restaurant is extremely successful, and its fame is spread by word of mouth.
1953: The McDonald brothers begin to franchise their restaurant, with Neil Fox the first franchisee. The second McDonald's opens in Phoenix, Arizona at N.Central Ave and Indian School Road. It is the first to feature the Golden Arches design; later this year the original restaurant is rebuilt in the same style.
1953: Third McDonald's restaurant opens in Saginaw, Michigan at the corner of State Street and N. Center Road, it is rebuilt in 2006 but stays at that location since opening.
1953: Fourth McDonald's restaurant opens, in Downey, California at the corner of Lakewood Blvd and Florence Avenue, and is the oldest McDonald's restaurant still in operation.
1954: Entrepreneur and milkshake-mixer salesman Ray Kroc becomes fascinated by the McDonald's restaurant during a sales visit, when he learns of its extraordinary capacity and popularity. Others who had visited the restaurant and come away inspired were James McLamore, founder of Burger King, and Glen Bell, founder of Taco Bell. After seeing the restaurant in operation, Kroc approaches the McDonald brothers, who have already begun franchising, with a proposition to let him franchise McDonald's restaurants outside the company's homebase of California and Arizona, with himself as the first franchisee. Kroc works hard to sell McDonald's. He even attempts to prevail on his wartime acquaintance with Walt Disney, in the failed hope of opening a McDonald's at the soon-to-be-opened Disneyland.
1955: Ray Kroc founds "McDonald's Systems, Inc." on March 2, as a legal structure for his planned franchises. Kroc opens the ninth McDonald's restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois, in suburban Chicago on April 15. The first day's revenues are $366.12. The company's literature usually refers to this date as the "beginning" of the company, then already 15 years old, writing the McDonald brothers out of its history in favor of "Founder" Kroc. The company still refers to this restaurant as "McDonald's #1". In July, Ray Kroc opens his second McDonald's restaurant in Fresno, California, operated by Art Bender, Kroc's first subfranchisee. The Fresno site is referred to as "first McDonald's restaurant franchised by Ray Kroc" on a plaque on the site, which is later rebuilt to resemble the 1950s-style restaurants.
1955: Ray Kroc hires Harry J. Sonneborn as his Chief Financial Officer. Sonneborn remained a key influence in the McDonald's corporation till his resignation in 1967.1955: Ray Kroc hires Fred Turner (later CEO and Chairman) as a grillman in his store in Des Plaines.
1958: McDonald's worldwide sells its 100 millionth hamburger.
1959: The 100th McDonald's restaurant opens in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
1959: McDonald's begins billboard advertising.
1960: Kroc's company is renamed "McDonald's Corporation".
1961: The McDonald brothers agree to sell Kroc business rights to their operation for $2.7 million, a sum that Kroc borrows from a number of investors, including Princeton University; Kroc considers the sum extreme, and it strains his relationship with the brothers. In a handshake agreement, the brothers would also receive an overriding royalty of 1% on the gross sales. At the closing table the brothers told Ray that they were giving the real estate and rights to the original unit to the founding employees. Ray closed the transaction, then refused to acknowledge the royalty portion of the agreement because it wasn't in writing. The brothers keep their original restaurant, but in an oversight they fail to retain the right to remain a McDonald's franchise. Renamed "The Big M", Kroc drives it out of business by opening a McDonald's just one block north; he attends the opening. Had the brothers maintained their original agreement, which granted them 0.5% of the chain's annual revenues, they or their heirs would have been collecting in excess of $100 million per year today. Had the brothers closed their handshake agreement with Ray, these royalties would have doubled.
1961: Hamburger University opens in the basement of the Elk Grove Village, Illinois, McDonald's restaurant Bachelor of Hamburgology degrees went to graduating class of 15.1962: McDonald's first national magazine ad appears in Life magazine.
1962: The first McDonald's restaurant with seating opens in Denver, Colorado.
1963: One of Kroc's marketing insights is his decision to advertise McDonald's hamburgers to families and children. Washington, D.C. franchisees John Gibson and Oscar Goldstein (Gee Gee Distributing Corporation) sponsor a children's show on WRC-TV called Bozo the Clown, a franchised character played by Willard Scott from 1959 until 1962. After the show was cancelled, Goldstein hires Scott to portray McDonald's new mascot, named Ronald McDonald. According to Scott, they wanted to pay him in stock, but Scott decided to take the money. Scott, looking nothing like the familiar appearance of any McDonaldland character as is known today, appeared in the first three television advertisements featuring the character. After changing the character's first name to "Ronald" and replacing Scott with a new actor, and giving him the more familiar red, white, and yellow clown features, the character eventually spreads to the rest of the country via an advertising campaign. Years later, an entire cast of "McDonaldland" characters is developed.
1963: The Filet-O-Fish is introduced in Cincinnati, Ohio, in a restaurant located in a neighborhood dominated by Roman Catholics who practiced abstinence (the avoidance of meat) on Fridays. It is the first new addition to the original menu, and goes national the following year, with fish supplied by Gorton's of Gloucester. See also Lou Groen1963: McDonald's sells its one billionth hamburger.
1963: The 500th McDonald's restaurant opens in Toledo, Ohio.
1964: McDonald's issues its first annual report.
1967: The first McDonald's restaurant outside the United States opens in Richmond, Britis Columbia.
1967: The chain's stand-alone restaurant design which is still most common today, with mansard roof and indoor seating, is introduced.
1968: The Big Mac (similar to the Big Boy hamburger), the brainchild of Jim Delligatti, one of Ray Kroc's earliest franchisees, who by the late 1960s operated a dozen stores in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania is first introduced in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania market in 1967, before going system/nationwide a year later, following its great local success. The Hot Apple Pie is also introduced this year.1968: The 1000th McDonald's restaurant opens in Des Plaines, Illinois.
1970: McDonald's opens in Costa Rica, its third country after the United States and Canada, and its first restaurant in Latin America.
1970: Having changed hands in 1968, the original "Big M" restaurant closes. It is demolished two years later, with only part of the sign remaining; this has since been restored.1971: The first Asian McDonald's opens in July in Japan, in Tokyo's Ginza district.
1971: On August 21, the first European McDonald's outlet opens, in Zaandam (near Amsterdam) in the Netherlands. The franchisee is Ahold.
1971: The first McDonald's in Germany (Munich) opens in December. It is the first McDonald's to sell alcohol, as it offers beer. Other European countries follow in the early 1970s.1971: The first Australian McDonald's opens in the Sydney suburb of Yagoona in December.
1971: The first McDonald's Playland opens in Chula Vista, California.
1972: The McDonald's system generates $1 billion in sales through 2200 restaurants.
1972: The 2000th McDonald's restaurant opens in Des Plaines, Illinois.
1973: The Quarter Pounder is introduced.
1973: The Egg McMuffin, invented by Herb Peterson, owner and operator of a Santa Barbara franchise is introduced to the menu.
1974: On October 12, the first McDonald's in the United Kingdom opens in Woolwich, southeast London. It is the company's 3000th restaurant.1 974:The first Ronald McDonald House opens in Philadelphi, Pennsylvania.
1975: Drive-Thru is introduced in January in Sierra Vista, Arizona in order to serve meals to soldiers from nearby Fort Huachuca who were not allowed to wear BDUs while off post except while in a vehicle. The Drive-Thru is later known as "McDrive" in some countries.1976: McDonald's pays its first cash dividend.
1977: McDonald's adds a breakfast line to the U.S. menu.
1978: The 5000th McDonald's restaurant opens in Kanagawa, Japan.
1978: Hamburger University celebrates the graduation of its 15,000th student.
1979: The Happy Meal is introduced in the U.S.
1979: The first McDonald's in France opens, in Strasbourg.
1979: The first McDonald's in Southeast Asia opens, in Singapore.
1980: McDonald's introduces the McChicken sandwich, its first poultry item. It flops, and is removed from the menu, but is later reintroduced after Chicken McNuggets prove successful.1980: The 6000th McDonald's restaurant opens in Munich, Germany.
1981: The first Ronald McDonald House outside the U.S. opens in Toronto, Canada.
1982: The first McDonald's in Malaysia opens, at Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.
1983: The Chicken McNuggets are introduced to the menu and instantly become a success.
1984: Ray Kroc dies on January 14.
1984: The company is a main sponsor of the 1984 Summer Olympics. Its U.S. restaurants lose money on the game "When The US Wins, You Win" after the Soviet bloc nations boycott the Games, leading to a high number of medals won by the U.S (this is later parodied in an episode of The Simpsons, with Krusty the Klown's Krusty Burger chain suffering a similar fate).
1984: On 18 July, James Huberty committed the worst mass murder (at the time) in the US, when he opened fire at the San Ysidro branch, killing 21 people before he was gunned down by a SWAT team sniper.
1985: McDonald's opens its first restaurant in Italy, Bolzano.
1988: McDonald's opens its first restaurant in a communist country, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). Budapest, Hungary follows in the same year.
1990: On January 31, the first Soviet McDonald's opens, in Moscow. At the time it is the largest McDonald's in the world . For political reasons, McDonald's Canada is responsible for this opening, with little input from the U.S. parent company; a wall display within the restaurant shows the Canadian and Soviet flags. To overcome Soviet supply problems, the company creates its own supply chain, including farms, within the USSR. Unlike other foreign investments, the restaurant accepts rubles, not dollars, and is extremely popular, with waiting lines of several hours common in its early days.
In this year many other McDonald's restaurants opened in Eastern Europe.
1990: In October, the first McDonald's opens in mainland China, in the city and Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of Shenzhen, Guangdong province.1992: The first McDonald's opens in Africa, in Casablanca, Morocco.
1992: Stella Liebeck receives third-degree burns from coffee purchased at a McDonald's drive-through. She sued in what became known as the McDonald's coffee case.
1992: Derek Wood, an employee, and two friends rob a McDonald's in Sydney River, Nova Scotia, killing three and severely injuring another. Wood is serving a life sentence for his role in the Sydney River McDonald's Murders.
1992: On April 23, the world's largest McDonald's opens in Beijing, China (over 700 seats). Along with adjacent buildings, it is later demolished.
1992: The fried apple pie is replaced with a baked apple pie (fried pies can still be found today in some locations, see the Fried Apple Pie Locator).
1993: The company launches its first sea-going restaurant aboard the Finnish cruiseferry Silja Europa, sailing between Helsinki and Stockholm.
1994: The Catalyst Award is given to McDonald's in honour of their program to foster leadership development in women.
1995: McDonald's receives complaints from franchisees that too many franchises are being granted, leading to competition among franchisees. McDonald's starts conducting market impact studies before granting further franchises.
1995: In an effort to cultivate a more "adult" image, McDonald's launches the Arch Deluxe sandwich with a massive ad campaign. Both the campaign and sandwich fail miserably and are quickly discontinued.1996: Following the end of apartheid, the first McDonald's in South Africa opens.
1996: First McDonald's opens in Belarus, marking the chain's 100th country (by its own calculation; however, this total included many non-sovereign territories). At the opening ceremony, the Belarusian militia are accused of brutality toward members of the public hoping to enter the restaurant in Minsk.1996: The first Indian McDonald's opens.
1997: McDonald's wins the "McLibel" case, in what many consider to be a Pyrrhic victory in terms of the company's image. Only about half of the counts are in McDonald's favour despite enormous legal resources deployed against self-representing defendants.1997: The McFlurry is invented by a Canadian franchisee.
1998: Jack M. Greenberg succeeds Michael R. Quinlan as CEO.
1999: First McDonald's Restaurant opens in Tbilisi, Georgia. Jack Greenberg is elevated to Chairman and CEO.
1999: French leftist activist José Bové and others gain worldwide attention when they destroy a half-built McDonald's franchise in Millau (Aveyron). The incident follows a European Union ban on American meat imports, on the grounds that they use hormone treatments; in response the U.S. had increased import duties on French Roquefort cheese and other European Union products. Bové was sentenced to three months in prison for his role in the incident.2000: Eric Schlosser publishes Fast Food Nation, a book critical of fast food in general and McDonald's in particular.
2000: The company opens its 1000th British store, inside the Millennium Dome.
2001: The FBI reports that employees of Simon Worldwide, a company hired by McDonald's to provide promotion marketing services for Happy Meals and the 'Millionaire'/'Monopoly' contest, stole winning game pieces worth more than $20 million.
2002: A survey in Restaurants and Institutions magazine ranks McDonald's 15th in food quality among hamburger chains, highlighting the company's failure to enforce standards across its franchise network.
2002: McDonald's posts its first quarterly loss ($344m), for the last quarter. It responds to the stiff competition from other fast-food restaurants, offering higher quality burgers and more variety, by attempting to move more upmarket by expanding its menu and refitting restaurants. It announces it is withdrawing from three countries (including Bolivia) and closing 175 underperforming restaurants.
2002: In October of this year, McDonald's opens the first of 2 corporate stores in Lincoln, Nebraska to test concept restaurant called "3N1". the concept incorporated a "Sandwich & Platter" casual dining area, a "bakery and ice cream" area featuring gourmet coffees, and a traditional McDonald's into one building. The second store is launched approximately six months later . The concept is spearheaded by Tom Ryan, who was Executive Vice President and Chief Concept Officer at the time. The concept is abandoned in less than a year, and Ryan leaves McDonald's to join Quiznos Sub.
2003: James Richard Cantalupo is elected Chairman and Chief Operating Officer, succeeding Jack M. Greenberg. Just prior to assuming his post Cantalupo shuts down Project Innovate, a global consulting project that had already spent $170 million of a projected 5-year budget of $1.2 billion.
2003: McDonald's starts a global marketing campaign which promotes a new healthier and higher-quality image. The campaign was labeled "i'm lovin' it" and begins simultaneously in more than 100 countries around the world.
2003: According to Technomic, a market research firm, McDonald's share of the U.S. market had fallen three percentage points in five years and was at 15.2%.2003: The firm reports a $126M USD loss for the fourth quarter.
2003: McDonald's introduces their premium salads, the McGriddles and the chicken selects.
2004: Morgan Spurlock directs and stars in Super Size Me documentary film in which he eats nothing but McDonald's food for 30 days to the great detriment of his health.2004: After the release of Super Size Me, McDonald's does away with their Supersize options.
2004: Chairman and CEO Jim Cantalupo dies suddenly at the age of 60 in his hotel room of an apparent heart attack while attending the annual franchisee convention in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 19. A 30-year veteran of the organization, Cantalupo had previously served as President and CEO of McDonald's International. He is credited with introducing the premium salad line and reformulating Chicken McNuggets to include leaner, all-white meat. Andrew J. McKenna, Sr., a prominent Chicago businessman and a McDonald's director, is elected Nonexecutive Chairman and Charlie Bell of Sydney, Australia is elected President and CEO of McDonald's Corporation. A month later Bell is diagnosed with colorectal cancer during a physical exam required for his new post and passes away in January of the next year. Like retired chairman and former CEO Fred L. Turner, Bell began his McDonald's career as a crew member. He was promoted frequently, serving as the corporation's Chief Operating Officer and as President of both McDonald's Europe and of the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa Group.
2005: Jim Skinner is elected President and CEO. Skinner began his McDonald's career as a trainee restaurant manager at a McDonald's in Carpentersville, Illinois in 1971 after serving nearly ten years with the US Navy.
2005: McDonald's experiments with call centers for drive-through orders. The center, located in Fargo, North Dakota takes orders from more than a dozen stores in Oregon and Washington. The experiment is in part motivated by labor costs, since the minimum wage in North Dakota is over 40% lower than that in Oregon or Washington.
2005: Owing in part to competitive pressure, McDonald's Australia adopts "Made for you" cooking platform in which the food is prepared from pre-cooked meat after the customer orders (as opposed to the firm's normal procedure since 1948, in which the food is cooked then sold as needed). It should become standard practice in all Australian restaurants by 2007. Some restaurants in New Zealand also follow suit. The practice had earlier been tested, and abandoned, in the U.S.
2005: McDonald's in Singapore began their McDelivery service: customers place their food orders over the phone, and it is delivered to wherever they are. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.2005: McDonald's opens a Wi-Fi service in selected restaurants with Nintendo for Nintendo DS.
2005: A fired employee, who was terminated for hitting a female customer, murdered his former manager at a McDonald's outlet in West Sussex, England. Shane Freer stabbed Jackie Marshall (57) to death during a children's party at the fast food restaurant she was supervising. Freer was convicted and sentenced to life in prison by Lewes Crown Court.2005: Ronald McDonald gets a leaner, sportier look.
2006: McDonald's announces that it will include nutritional information on the packaging for all products beginning in March and that its upcoming menu changes will emphasize chicken, salads, and other "fresh foods" rather than hamburgers.
2006: McDonald's and Disney end their 10 year promotional partnership. Split allegedly mutual although the generally accepted reasons were that McDonald's no longer sees benefit from sticking with one studio; due to the increased competition from other studios, as well as having to promote flop films, and Disney no longer wants to be associated with a company so strongly tied to childhood obesity.2006: McDonald's begins their "forever young" branding by redesigning their restaurants.
2006: Anna Svidersky was murdered by David Sullivan while working in an Anderson Road McDonald's in Vancouver, Washington.2007: McDonald's reintroduces its 42-ounce super-size soda under the name Hugo.
2008: Mcdonald's introduces the McSkillet burrito. This larger breakfast constants of scramble eggs, red & green bell peppers, onions, potatoes, salsa and sausage wrapped in a flour tortilla. Later in the year, Chicken was added.2008: McDonald's introduces the Chicken Biscuit and the Southern Style Chicken Sandwich.
2008: In November, McDonald's starts phasing in new designs for their containers. They also introduced a new menu board design that featured warmer, darker colors, more realistic photos with the food on plates and drinks in glasses. The design should hit nation wide come 2009.2009: McDonald's begins serving cappuccinos, mochas, & lattes.