Nowadays, there are more fast food joints popping up every day, from the classics selling burgers and fries to new, healthy options that let you put together your own fresh salad or green smoothie. However, there aren’t that many that have managed to last decades on end – but McDonald’s is one of them.
Sure, many people slam the Golden Arches because their offerings aren’t that healthy, and there was even a documentary done on the fast food chain, Super Size Me. However, the fact is, the fast food giant remains a huge presence on the fast food scene for a reason – people love it. Just like Starbucks’ concept of being a third home, McDonalds offers consistency and familiarity, and you know that you’ll basically get the same cheeseburger and fries no matter which location you stop at. There are seasonal items like the Shamrock Shake that people go nuts over. And, let’s be honest – if someone puts a fresh, piping hot order of salty McDonald’s fries in front of you, you’re probably going to eat them. They’re insanely addictive.
But there’s a lot more to the famous chain than initially meets the eye. Here are 15 things you definitely didn’t know about McDonald’s.
14 They sell more than 75 hamburgers per second
McDonald’s has a relatively large menu, particularly now that they’ve been trying to add healthy options like salads and expand into the café world by offering coffee beverages and pastries. However, one of their biggest sellers has remained the good old classic hamburger. In fact, according to their own operations and training manual, the restaurants sells “more than 75 hamburgers per second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day of the year.” That’s right – 75 per second. We don’t even want to attempt to calculate how much that is per year. There are an insane amount of locations around the world, but just imagine that many burgers going out the door – it’s crazy! McDonald’s must have their burger formula down to an art, because it seems that when it comes time to indulge their fast food cravings, people are going for the classic hamburger, time and time again.
13 There are four distinct McNugget shapes
If McNuggets are more your thing, you’ve probably gotten a few orders over the course of your life, and just assumed that they were all blobby ‘McNugget’ shape. I mean, those aren’t actually distinct shapes, are they? It turns out, they definitely are. McDonalds’ Chicken McNuggets come in four distinct shapes – the Boot, the Ball, the Bow Tie, and the Bell. Sure, since they’re breaded and fried the edges are a little blurred, you won’t exactly get a razor sharp bow tie shape, but still – next time you indulge in some McNuggets, check out what shapes you’re getting. It’s going to be some combinations of those four, because McDonald’s is all about consistency. Perhaps at some point in the future they’ll craft a campaign to name the next McNugget shape and fans around the world can have their say. Which would you pick? A square? A clown head? A literal chicken?
12 Their fries are sliced at 40 mph
No, they don’t employ a factory full of insanely speedy chefs – this one is all about the machines they use in their process. McDonald’s sells an insane amount of fries every day, so they can’t exactly have people peeling them by hand – they would never be able to meet the demand for fresh, salty fries at those speeds. Instead, the machines at their supplier’s facility ‘peels’ the potatoes with high-pressure steam, and then sends them hurtling through a slicer at about 40 miles per hour. Talk about fast food! That’s also the reason that every fry you get, though it might be a slightly different length, is always the same skinny square shape – they’re going through the slots of the slicer. Next time you’re making fries at home and getting frustrated at your uneven spuds, just remember – doing something by machine is always going to offer more consistency in bulk volumes, as McDonald’s knows well.
11 They sell more toys than Hasbro or Mattel
Everyone who has ever had a Happy Meal at some stage in their life knows that it comes with an option of a toy. The toys change frequently, often to coincide with big movie releases or trends in the toy industry, and are often displayed near the counter for children to choose from. However, how many toys could McDonald’s really be selling, considering they only come with Happy Meals? Turns out, a lot. Worldwide, the fast food giant sells about 1.5 million toys — a number that is more than toy-making powerhouses Hasbro or Mattel sell. That’s right – a fast food chain sells more toys than literal toy manufacturers. It just goes to show the power of bulk – McDonald’s gets a ton of orders, and if even a small percentage of transactions are for a Happy Meal, those numbers add up. No wonder they can afford the premium toys – they’re basically a toy store!
10 “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle was performed by pop royalty
Everyone knows McDonald’s’ latest catchy jingle, the “I’m Lovin’ It” song. It made a splash when it first debuted, and even now, when you hear it you’re liking to hum along to that ‘ba-da-ba-ba-ba’ tune. However, this jingle wasn’t one performed by some random voiceover artist in a studio – the fast food giant apparently paid Justin Timberlake, who was just embarking on his solo career after leaving boy band NSYNC, $6 million to perform the jingle. And if that wasn’t enough, Pharrell Williams produced it. And if thatwasn’t enough, Williams apparently was so taken by the song in the jingle that he then produced an “I’m Lovin’ It” EP, which was a chart-topper in Belgium. Who knew? Usually, jingles are a bit of an afterthought, and just pleasantly surprise companies when they go viral. When it came time to come up with a new jingle, McDonald’s wasn’t messing around – they brought in the big guns.
9 Employees can attend Hamburger University
It doesn’t exactly take a ton of skill to learn how to flip a hamburger, right? Sure, you need to memorize all the different toppings that each sandwich gets, and you need to be quick on your feet, but most people could find themselves excelling after a certain period of time putting together Filet O’Fish sandwiches and Quarter Pounders. Some people, though, strive for an even higher level of hamburger excellence – and they go off to attend Hamburger University. Yes, it’s a real thing. Hamburger University is a global training program that McDonald’s initiated, and since it was started in 1961, it’s estimated that about 80,000 employees have graduated from the prestigious sandwich school. So, if you ever want to learn everything there is to know about McDonald’s, a trip to Hamburger U might be in order. Let’s just hope there’s a hands-on component that allows you to taste test the products.
8 The largest store is 19,000 square feet
There are so many McDonald’s locations around the world, and though most incorporate some of the familiar brand elements, each one is tweaked slightly to suit the country it’s in. However, none compare to the largest location, which is in Orlando, Florida. The largest McDonald’s is just shy of 20,000 square feet, and it doesn’t just have a run of the mill play place. In addition to enjoying a Big Mac or order of crispy fries, guests can enjoy the bowling alley and arcade games within the space. In fact, thanks to the size and location, the franchise even hosts concerts and gator shows from time to time. It’s truly a one stop entertainment spot. Now, obviously, not every franchise is that enormous – most are just the standard size of other fast food chains. Still – having a spot that huge kind of takes the McDonald’s trademark of supersizing to a whole new level!
7 Many celebs were former employees
McDonald’s is an absolutely massive employer – after all, it takes a lot of employees to man the thousands of locations worldwide. With so many individuals on the pay roll, it only makes sense that a few former employees would go on to achieve great things. Apparently, celebrities including Pink, Rachel McAdams, Shania Twain and Jay Leno have all, once upon a time, popped on a visor and worked the grill at a McDonald’s location somewhere. Some, like McAdams, have confessed that they weren’t exactly star employees. However, it just goes to show that everyone, even celebrities, gets their start somewhere. In fact, for a 60 Minutes special, comedian Jay Leno even opted to return to his roots by flipping burgers at the same McDonald’s that once employed him. Next time you’re picking up a Big Mac, pay attention if your cashier is humming to themselves – maybe they’re the next big pop star!
6 Ronald McDonald is hugely recognizable
While you may remember figures like Grimace and the Hamburglar from an earlier era in McDonald’s history, there’s one figure who is without question their most recognizable mascot — Ronald McDonald himself. The clown with the bright red hair and vibrant yellow and red outfit is iconic. However, you may not have realized just how iconic he is. Apparently, when U.S. schoolchildren were asked to identify certain characters, 96% of them knew exactly who Ronald was. In fact, he was second only to Santa Claus – and that’s pretty high praise. Considering that many fast food joints have some type of mascot, it’s pretty amazing that McDonald’s has managed to craft someone that is so identifiable. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to like the mascot – many adults find clowns downright terrifying (we blame Stephen King for that one). Still – the fact that everyone knows who he is proves that McDonald’s’ marketing department certainly knew what they were doing.
5 The first mascot was a waiter named Speedee
Given how recognizable Ronald McDonald is, you probably assume he was their first mascot, right? After all, he’s the character you immediately think of when you think of the golden arches. However, before they created the clown, McDonald’s actually had an entirely different mascot – a cheeky waiter named Speedee with a hamburger shaped head. For whatever reason, people didn’t quite seem to respond to Speedee the same way, and the chain ended up replacing him with Ronald McDonald in 1967. We’re not sure who thought that a clown would be a more identifiable figure, and how clowns relate to food, but it seems to have worked out for them, so whoever thought up the idea was clearly ahead of his or her time. RIP Speedee. He’s far less terrifying than the garish clown that is Ronald McDonald, but hey – apparently the world would disagree, as Ronald has lasted a whopping 50 years.
4 The Queen of England owns a McDonald’s near Buckingham Palace
No matter how big a fan of McDonald’s you are, you would probably agree that McDonald’s isn’t exactly fancy fare. Sure, you can add a few upgraded toppings, or swap out a regular patty for Angus beef, but at the end of the day it’s fast food, plain and simple. However, there is one particular McDonald’s franchise that has a bit of a royal connection. It turns out, the Queen of England actually owns a McDonald’s franchise near Buckingham Palace. As far as everyone knows, she hasn’t ever frequented it, but who knows – perhaps, under cover of darkness, she sends out one of the Royal staff to bring back a Quarter Pounder. Or, perhaps now that William and Kate are nearby, they’ll order a few Happy Meals for their children at some point? It seems a bit of a strange thing for the Queen to be connected to, but hey – everyone loves fries, right?
3 It’s banned in Bermuda
There are McDonald’s locations across the world, from small towns in America to major metropolitan areas in Europe. There are McDonald’s franchises in Australia, Asia and Africa – they’re absolutely everywhere. However, there is one spot where McDonald’s has yet to set up its golden arches – sunny Bermuda. They gave it their best try, but Bermuda residents were so upset at the idea of a McDonald’s setting up shop there that Bermuda actually created a law that banned all franchised restaurants. That’s right – they hated McDonald’s so much that they literally created a law preventing any and all chain restaurants from popping up. It’s great to support your local mom and pop shops, but at some point, huge international chains will expand no matter what – but Bermudans are standing strong. Now, the only question is, when they leave the island on vacations or business trips, do they ever stop by McDonald’s for a few McNuggets?
2 More people can identify the golden arches than the Christian cross
Every religion has certain symbols and icons known to believers, and of those, the Christian cross is perhaps one of the most well known. Even pop stars know what it is – who could ever forget Madonna burning the cross in the “Like A Prayer” video? However, as iconic as that symbol is, there’s one even more people know – McDonald’s’ famous golden arches. Apparently, in a survey done by Sponsorship Research International where 7,000 people in six countries around the world were surveyed, only 54% could identify the cross, while 88% could identify that the golden arches belonged to McDonald’s. That’s right – 88%. The fact that those arches are so garish and visible when you drive by is apparently a smart business strategy for brand recognition. Seriously, whoever was responsible for branding at McDonald’s should have opened their own consulting business – the fact that they’re so well-known, despite their symbols being a weird clown and a big golden M, is astounding.
1 A Sedona, Arizona McDonald’s actually has turquoise arches
McDonald’s – like most fast food restaurants and big chains – is all about consistency. While certain aspects of each franchise may be slightly different, there are a lot of features that are the exact same, no matter where in the world you’re going to McDonald’s. That is, unless you’re walking up to a McDonald’s in Sedona, Arizona. You see, when the owners of that particular franchise went to set up their typical golden arches outside the fast food joint, they were told that they needed to conform a bit better to the desert environment and distinct vibe of Sedona. So, the building itself was done in shades of red and orange in order to blend in better to the land around it, and the golden arches were given a turquoise make-over to mirror the sky. Honestly, the idea sounds kind of cool – perhaps McDonald’s will give other franchise the go-ahead to paint the arches any color they like.