It seems hard to believe, but we're halfway through the month of May. I tell you, this year is just flying by. Or, maybe I'm just getting older.
Whatever the case, we're going to take a look back on a specific event that took place on May 15th. Before we do that though, let's take a look at some of the other events that also took place on this date.
For celebrity birthdays, we have quite the eclectic list. Born on May 15 are Jasper Johns, Wavy Gravy, Madeleine Albright, Trini Lopez, Lainie Kazan, K.T. Oslin, Brian Eno, Chazz Palminteri, Mike Oldfield, Lee Horsley, Dan Patrick, Emmitt Smith, David Charvet, Ahmet Zappa, David Krumholtz, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, and Alex Breckenridge. And, a very happy birthday to all of you!
And, here's a look back at some of the happenings in history on this date.
1536 – Anne Boleyn stands trial in London on charges of treason, adultery, and incest. She is eventually condemned to death
1567 – Mary, Queen of Scots, marries James Hepburn, her third husband
1648 – Treaty of Westphalia signed
1701 – The War of the Spanish Succession commences
1718 – The world's first machine gun is patented by lawyer James Puckle
1755 – The community of Laredo, Texas is founded
1800 – George III of the United Kingdom survives assassination attempt by James Hadfield
1811 – Paraguay declared independence from Spain
1817 – The Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason opens in Philadelphia, the first privatized mental hospital to open in the United States
1862 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signs a bill into law which would lead to the creation of the United States Department of Agriculture
1905 – The city of Las Vegas, Nevada is founded
1919 – The beginning of the Winnipeg General Strike, nearly the entire city population walk off the job
1928 – Mickey Mouse debuts in his first cartoon, “Plane Crazy”
1932 – In an attempted coup d'etat, Inukai Tsuyoshi, the Prime Minister of Japan, is killed
1943 – Joseph Stalin dissolves the Comintern
1958 – Soviet Union launches Sputnik 3...exactly two years later in 1960, Sputnik 4 was launched
1969 – People's Park “Bloody Thursday”; Governor Ronald Reagan fences off park from student protests which sparks a riot
1970 – Two students are killed on the campus of Jackson State University by police during student protests
1974 – Ma'alot Massacre; 31 people are killed, including 22 children
1991 – Edith Cresson becomes the first female Prime Minister in France
2008 – California becomes the second state to legalize same-sex marriage; overturned by Proposition 8 just months later
2010 – Just three days shy of her 17th birthday, Jessica Watson becomes youngest person ever to sail around the world solo and unassisted, without stopping
2011 - Wildfires in Alberta destroy part of the community of Slave Lake
2011 - Wildfires in Alberta destroy part of the community of Slave Lake
That's quite a lot of history that took place on May 15, isn't it?
So, when are we going back in time this week? Well, I'll tell you.
The date is May 15, 1940. The place is San Bernardino, California. And the legacy of the blog topic for today has admittedly been mixed, depending on who you ask. If you're looking at it through a businessman's point of view, it could be declared one of the most successful franchises of all time. But, if you look at it through the eyes of nutritionists, doctors, and Morgan Spurlock, you might have a rather negative view of the company which has boasted sales of “99 billion served and counting”.
Regardless of what your stance is, we're going to look at the history of the fast food joint known as McDonald's, which opened up its first restaurant on May 15, 1940.
Are you lovin' it so far?
To begin this tale of how this franchise grew into a multi-billion dollar company, we've got to take a look at how this story began. And to do that, we're going to go back in time a smidgen further, to the year 1937.
That year, a man by the name of Patrick McDonald opened up a restaurant known as “The Airdrome” (named for its close proximity to an airport) in Monrovia, California. Would you imagine that hamburgers were only ten cents, and all-you-can-drink orange juice was five cents? Oh, to be able to go back to those prices again!
Patrick McDonald had two sons, Maurice and Richard (or Mac and Dick, as they liked to be called). They were instrumental in relocating the restaurant to San Bernardino, California in 1940, and with the move came a name change.
And with that, the “Airdrome” was rechristened as “McDonald's Famous Barbecue”.
For eight years, the McDonald brothers did quite well with their restaurant, but came to a conclusion that the bulk of their profits came from the hamburgers. So, the brothers made the decision to change up the format in October 1948. The brothers closed up their successful car-hop restaurant format, and simplified the menu. The menu would only include hamburgers, cheeseburgers, french fries, milkshakes, soda, and apple pie. The car-hops were eliminated to make the restaurant more of a self-serve operation. The name was changed once again, simply to “McDonald's” in December 1948.
Five years later, the McDonald's brothers began to franchise McDonald's, and some of the first locations to get a McDonald's were Phoenix, Arizona, and Downey, California.
TRIVIA: The McDonald's restaurant in Downey, California is the oldest surviving McDonald's location that is still in business today.
Right around this time, the McDonald's brothers created the company's first mascot, a little man known as “Speedee”, which was used to promote the restaurant's quick service. The Speedee logo is still present at some locations, like the Downey, California one, but Speedee was replaced by the red, yellow, and white clown known as Ronald McDonald, in 1963.
TRIVIA: The first actor to play Ronald McDonald was Willard Scott, who looked NOTHING like the image that most of us would associate with Ronald McDonald.
So, the McDonald brothers were doing well with their franchise, and continued to make a lot of money with their small chain of restaurants. But in 1954, their franchise would explode with the introduction of a third business partner.
When businessman Ray Kroc received word that the McDonald brothers had used eight of his own Multimixer milkshake machines in their flagship San Bernardino location, well...their milkshakes brought Mr. Kroc to their yard, and he just had to check and see what all the fuss was about.
He was quite impressed with the McDonald brothers business model, and recognized a gold mine when he saw it. So, he gave them the suggestion to franchise their restaurant all over the country. However, the McDonald brothers weren't sure if they were ready for such a huge responsibility. It was only after Kroc stepped in and offered to do all the heavy workload that they agreed to take him on as a partner. So, on April 15, 1955, Kroc's first McDonald's opened up in Des Plaines, Illinois, and the rest as we say is history.
Today, the restaurant has over 33,000 locations in 119 different countries, serving an average of 68 million customers every day all over the world, and now makes a profit of three billion dollars a year!
And, looking at the rich history of the company, there's a lot of stuff to talk about. So much stuff that I would require a blog entry that has eighteen thousand words. And, one thing I've learned is that nobody wants to read a blog entry THAT long.
So, I thought I'd highlight a few of the more interesting things that have come out of McDonald's 72-year history and talk about them in a bullet point list. Some of these are positive achievements, but there's a few negative points as well. Either way, I hope you enjoy a brief look at McDonald's history since it began on May 15, 1940.
MCDONALD'S TIMELINE (A Brief History)
1958 – McDonald's sells its 100th million hamburger. That same year, Tampa Bay opens up the company's first location in Florida.
1959 – McDonald's opens up its 100th location in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
1960 – Boston, Massachusetts gets its first McDonald's, the first location to open up in New England.
1961 – The McDonald brothers sell Kroc business rights to their organization for $2.7 million. Initially, the brothers agreed to a “handshake agreement” with Kroc, which stated that they would get royalty payments on the gross sales. But because they failed to get the promise in writing, Kroc refused to give them anything. To add salt to the wound, while the McDonald brothers kept their original restaurant, they failed to retain the right to use the name McDonald's. They were eventually put out of business after Kroc opens up a McDonald's a block away. Nice, huh? The same year, Hamburger University opens up, with a first graduating class of 15 students.
1962 – The first McDonald's with inside seating opens up in Denver, Colorado.
1963 – The creation of Ronald McDonald. Soon after, an entire group of McDonaldland characters would arrive including Grimace, Birdie, the Hamburgler, Fry Guys, and Mayor McCheese. The same year also brought forth the creation known as the Filet-O-Fish.
1967 – Canada becomes the second country to franchise McDonald's, the first location opening up in Richmond, British Columbia.
1968 – The first Big Mac is made.
1970 – McDonald's opens up a restaurant in Costa Rica, the third country to begin franchising.
1971 – McDonald's begins its huge growth in the world, opening up its first locations in Australia, Japan, Amsterdam, Germany, and The Netherlands. France and Great Britain would also open up locations in 1972 and 1974 respectively.
1973 – The Quarter Pounder and the Egg McMuffin are introduced to the menu.
1974 – The very first Ronald McDonald house, a charity for critically ill children, is opened up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1975 – The McDonald's Drive-Thru is introduced as a method to serve soldiers at nearby Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona. Within years, almost all McDonald's locations would utilize it.
1977 – A breakfast menu is added to McDonald's
1978 – The 5000th McDonald's restaurant opens in Japan.
1979 – The first Happy Meal is produced and sold in the United States.
1980 – The launch of Chicken McNuggets proves highly successful in McDonald's locations, prompting a relaunch of a previously failed product, the McChicken.
1984 – 1984 was a rough year for the company. Ray Kroc dies on January 14, a man by the name of James Huberty killed 21 people at a McDonald's in San Diego, California, and the company lost millions in their Summer Olympics “When the US Wins, You Win” campaign...due to the Soviet Union boycotting the event and having the U.S. Team win more gold medals than the company was prepared for!
1987 – A plane crashes into a McDonald's in the Wasserburger Landstrasse, killing fourteen people inside or near the restaurant, as well as on the plane.
1990 – The first McDonald's opens up in the Soviet Union, which was the largest McDonald's to open up at the time.
1992 – McDonald's Coffee Case – Stella Liebeck sues the restaurant after receiving third degree burns from a spilled coffee at the drive-thru window.
1993 – McDonald's sells its 100 billionth hamburger. That same year, the McCafe line is launched in Australia. It would eventually be launched in other countries.
1997 – The first McFlurry is made in a Canadian McDonald's location.
2003 – Launch of the McDonald's “I'm Lovin' It” campaign.
2004 – Morgan Spurlock releases documentary “Super Size Me”, which details Spurlock surviving on nothing but McDonald's, which wreaks havoc on his health. That same year, McDonald's eliminates its supersize options from the menu.
2006 – Donald Gorske enters the Guinness Book of World Records for eating the most Big Macs in an entire lifetime, with over 25,000 consumed.
And, that's only scratching the surface! There's lots more information to be found about McDonald's online and in books. You just have to know where to look.
And, so ends our look back on May 15, 1940. Did you love it?