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5 Things You Don't Know About McDonald's
McDonald's is the world's most popular hamburger fast-food chain, with over 31,000 restaurants worldwide. The corporation pulled in over 22 billion last year and is beloved by french fry eaters everywhere. Even people who don't eat at McDonald's know their ubiquitous golden arches and have heard about the Big Mac's special sauce. However, few people know the company's quirky history.
In this article I'll summarize 5 of McDonald's strangest moments. Everything from a grudge against Walt Disney, to the company itself running the original restaurant out of business. I'll have links to more in depth articles on particular subjects for those who are interested, and a few extra facts sprinkled throughout for all the trivia junkies. With that, lets get started...
5) For A Few Years, McDonald's Themselves Didn't Know The Recipe For Their Special Sauce
In the late-1960s McDonald's created its famed special sauce for its Big Mac. By 2004, cost cutting measures had changed the sauce to a pale imitation of itself. The then new CEO and his associates weren't happy when they found out, but when they went looking for the original recipe, they discovered that no one had it. The company had lost its famous recipe. It took contacting the original California supplier who had helped develop the sauce to get the recipe back. Luckily they had kept a copy.
McDonald's finds missing ingredient
4) McDonald's Almost Got Rid Of Its Golden Arches
In the 1960s McDonald's was looking to update its image and its restaurants. This included getting rid of the golden arches and coming up with a new logo. However, the company wasn't about to risk upsetting their business so they hired a design consultant and psychologist to help assist them in their transition. The Consultant vigorously argued against getting rid of the arches, saying they had a certain Freudian effect, and represented "mother McDonald’s breasts." The company ended up taking their consultant's advice and the now famous arches stayed put.
Book: Fast Food Nation
3) The Theme Park That Never Was And Former CEO Ray Kroc's Grudge Against Walt Disney
Ray Kroc was the man most responsible for spreading McDonald's restaurants all over the world. In 1954 he convinced the McDonald brothers to let him franchise McDonald's restaurants. In 1961, Kroc bought the corporation.
As young men, Ray Kroc and Walt Disney knew each other and both severed in the same World War I ambulance corps. Disney would find fame only a few short years after his time in the war, while Kroc would toil on until the 1950s before he found great success.
It's uncertain if they were friends, but when Kroc was first trying to start his McDonald's franchising empire, he wrote to Disney about "a lot of pleasant memories" he had and then pleaded his case for opening up a McDonald's in Disneyland. Disney was intrigued by the idea, but things fell apart shortly afterward. It’s uncertain what Disney's side of the story was, but Kroc claimed Disney wanted to gouge the customers and he simply could not stand for that. As he grew older he would maintain a grudge against the company.
Kroc was an intensely competitive businessman, who once said of his competitors "If they were drowning to death, I would put a hose in their mouth." In the late-1960s, as Disney was declining and McDonald’s was growing. Kroc decided to try to give Disney a run for its money. He put forth plans to build an amusement park called "Western World" and presented them to McDonald's board of directors. They didn't like the idea, but Kroc soldiered on and even got so far as find a location for the park, just northeast of Los Angeles. However, McDonald's other executes fought the idea. Eventually their calls were heard, and plans for the park were ditched.
2) McDonald's Ran Its Original Restaurant Out of Business
You'd think McDonald's would want to preserve its first restaurant, for historical reasons at least. That unfortunately wasn't so. In 1961, Ray Kroc, who had spent the past 6 years opening up McDonald's restaurants around the county, bought the company from the McDonald's brothers.
The brothers weren't easily separated from their company though, and wanted a million tax-free dollars each (which amounted to Kroc having to give them 2.7 million total) and to be able to retain control of their original restaurant. Kroc reluctantly agreed, but wouldn't let them call their restaurant McDonald's. The brothers took the offer and changed their restaurant’s name to "The Big M".
Six months after the deal, "The Big M" went out of business. To pay them back the high terms of the deal, Kroc opened up a McDonald's right across the street from "The Big M".
1) So What's In The Special Sauce?
The Big Mac was conceived of in 1965 by Jim Delligatti, a McDonald’s franchise owner in the Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Delligatti got the idea for the Big Mac after seeing double decker hamburgers being sold at Big Boy restaurants. Not wanting to get behind the times, Delligatti lobbied McDonald’s headquarters to allow him to sell his own version of the double decker. After two years, the upper management finally relented and Delligatti started selling his creation at his hometown McDonald’s. The sandwich took off, and after a year it was being sold all over the country.
The basic ingredients for the sandwich came to rather quickly Delligatti, with the exception of the sauce. The sauce took many tries to get right, which is why it’s called the special sauce. According to various sources online, the recipe was printed in the 1969 McDonald's Managers Handbook, but then quickly removed the next year to keep other restaurants from stealing it. The supposed recipe is:
- 1/4 cup KRAFT Miracle Whip
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons, heaping, WISHBONE deluxe French salad dressing (the orange stuff)
- 1/2 Tablespoon HEINZ sweet relish
- 2 teaspoons, heaping, VLASIC dill pickle relish (Heinz dill relish also works)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried, minced onion
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ketchup
- Mix everything very well in a small container.
- Microwave 25 seconds, and stir well again.
- Cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.
- Makes nearly 1 cup, enough for about 8 Big Macs