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McDonald's Corporation more commonly known as just McDonald's or Maccas, is an American fast food company, founded in 1940 as a restaurant operated by Richard and Maurice McDonald, in San Bernardino, California, United States. They rechristened their business as a hamburger stand, and later turned the company into a franchise, with the Golden Arches logo being introduced in 1953 at a location in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1955, Ray Kroc, a businessman, joined the company as a franchise agent and proceeded to purchase the chain from the McDonald brothers. McDonald's had its original headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, but moved its global headquarters to Chicago in early 2018.

McDonald's is the world's largest restaurant chain by revenue, serving over 69 million customers daily in over 100 countries across 37,855 outlets as of 2018. Although McDonald's is best known for its hamburgers, cheeseburgers and french fries, they also feature chicken products, breakfast items, soft drinks, milkshakes, wraps, and desserts. In response to changing consumer tastes and a negative backlash because of the unhealthiness of their food, the company has added to its menu salads, fish, smoothies, and fruit. The McDonald's Corporation revenues come from the rent, royalties, and fees paid by the franchisees, as well as sales in company-operated restaurants. According to two reports published in 2018, McDonald's is the world's second-largest private employer with 1.7 million employees (behind Walmart with 2.3 million employees).

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History

The siblings Richard and Maurice McDonald opened the first McDonald's at 1398 North E Street at West 14th Street in San Bernardino, California (at 34.1255°N 117.2946°W) on May 15, 1940, but it was not the McDonald's recognizable today; Ray Kroc made changes to the brothers' business to modernize it. The brothers introduced the "Speedee Service System" in 1948, putting into expanded use the principles of the modern fast-food restaurant that their predecessor White Castle had put into practice more than two decades earlier. The original mascot of McDonald's was a chef hat on top of a hamburger who was referred to as "Speedee". In 1962, the Golden Arches replaced Speedee as the universal mascot. The symbol, Ronald McDonald, was introduced in 1965. The clown, Ronald McDonald, appeared in advertising to target their audience of children.

Corporate Overview

McDonald's restaurants are found in 120 countries and territories around the world and serve 68 million customers each day. McDonald's operates 37,855 restaurants worldwide, employing more than 210,000 people as of the end of 2018. There are currently a total of 2,770 company-owned locations and 35,085 franchised locations, which includes 21,685 locations franchised to conventional franchisees, 7,225 locations licensed to developmental licensees, and 6,175 locations licensed to foreign affiliates.

Focusing on its core brand, McDonald's began divesting itself of other chains it had acquired during the 1990s. The company owned a majority stake in Chipotle Mexican Grill until October 2006, when McDonald's fully divested from Chipotle through a stock exchange. Until December 2003, it also owned Donatos Pizza, and it owned a small share of Aroma Café from 1999 to 2001. On August 27, 2007, McDonald's sold Boston Market to Sun Capital Partners.

Notably, McDonald's has increased shareholder dividends for 25 consecutive years, making it one of the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats. The company is ranked 131st on the Fortune 500 of the largest United States corporations by revenue. In October 2012, its monthly sales fell for the first time in nine years. In 2014, its quarterly sales fell for the first time in seventeen years, when its sales dropped for the entirety of 1997.

In the United States, it is reported that drive-throughs account for 70 percent of sales. McDonald's closed down 184 restaurants in the United States in 2015, which was 59 more than what they planned to open. This move was also the first time McDonald's had a net decrease in the number of locations in the United States since 1970.

The McDonalds on-demand delivery concept, which began in 2017 with a partnership with Uber Eats and added DoorDash in 2019, now accounts for up to 3% of all business as of 2019.

Products

McDonald's predominantly sells hamburgers, various types of chicken, chicken sandwiches, French fries, soft drinks, breakfast items, and desserts. In most markets, McDonald's offers salads and vegetarian items, wraps and other localized fare. On a seasonal basis, McDonald's offers the McRib sandwich. Some speculate the seasonality of the McRib adds to its appeal.

Products are offered as either "dine-in" (where the customer opts to eat in the restaurant) or "take-out" (where the customer opts to take the food off the premises). "Dine-in" meals are provided on a plastic tray with a paper insert on the floor of the tray. "Take-out" meals are usually delivered with the contents enclosed in a distinctive McDonald's-branded brown paper bag. In both cases, the individual items are wrapped or boxed as appropriate.

Since Steve Easterbrook became CEO of the company, McDonald's has streamlined the menu which in the United States contained nearly 200 items. The company has also looked to introduce healthier options, and removed high-fructose corn syrup from hamburger buns. The company has also removed artificial preservatives from Chicken McNuggets, replacing chicken skin, safflower oil and citric acid found in Chicken McNuggets with pea starch, rice starch and powdered lemon juice.

In September 2018, McDonald's USA announced that they no longer use artificial preservatives, flavors and colors entirely from seven classic burgers sold in the U.S., including the hamburger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger, McDouble, Quarter Pounder with Cheese, double Quarter Pounder with Cheese and the Big Mac. Nevertheless, the pickles will still be made with an artificial preservative, although customers can choose to opt out of getting pickles with their burgers.

Criticism

In 1990, activists from a small group known as London Greenpeace (no connection to the international group Greenpeace) distributed leaflets entitled What's wrong with McDonald's?, criticizing its environmental, health, and labor record. The corporation wrote to the group demanding they desist and apologize, and, when two of the activists refused to back down, sued them for libel in one of the longest cases in British civil law. A documentary film of the McLibel Trial has been shown in several countries.

In the late 1980s, Phil Sokolof, a millionaire businessman who had suffered a heart attack at the age of 43, took out full-page newspaper ads in New York, Chicago, and other large cities accusing McDonald's menu of being a threat to American health, and asking them to stop using beef tallow to cook their french fries.

Though the company objected, the term "McJob" was added to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary in 2003. The term was defined as "a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement".

In 2001, Eric Schlosser's book Fast Food Nation included criticism of the business practices of McDonald's. Among the critiques were allegations that McDonald's (along with other companies within the fast food industry) uses its political influence to increase its profits at the expense of people's health and the social conditions of its workers. The book also brought into question McDonald's advertisement techniques in which it targets children. While the book did mention other fast-food chains, it focused primarily on McDonald's.

In 2002, vegetarian groups, largely Hindu and Buddhist, successfully sued McDonald's for misrepresenting its French fries as vegetarian, when they contained beef broth.

Morgan Spurlock's 2004 documentary film Super Size Me claimed that McDonald's food was contributing to the increase of obesity in society and that the company was failing to provide nutritional information about its food for its customers. Six weeks after the film premiered, McDonald's announced that it was eliminating the super size option, and was creating the adult Happy Meal. There was also a documentary called Fat Head which pointed out inconsistencies in Super Size Me.

In 2006, an unsanctioned McDonald's Video Game by Italian group Molleindustria was released online. It is parody of the business practices of the corporate giant, taking the guise of a tycoon style business simulation game. In the game, the player plays the role of a McDonald's CEO, choosing whether or not to use controversial practices like genetically altered cow feed, plowing over rainforests, and corrupting public officials. McDonald's issued a statement distancing itself from the game.

In January 2014, it was reported that McDonald's was accused of having used a series of tax maneuvers to avoid taxes in France. The company confirmed that tax authorities had visited McDonald's French headquarters in Paris but insisted that it had not done anything wrong, saying, "McDonald's firmly denies the accusation made by L'Express according to which McDonald's supposedly hid part of its revenue from taxes in France."

Response

In response to public pressure, McDonald's has sought to include more healthy choices in its menu and has introduced a new slogan to its recruitment posters: "Not bad for a McJob". The word McJob, first attested in the mid-1980s and later popularized by Canadian novelist Douglas Coupland in his book Generation X, has become a buzz word for low-paid, unskilled work with few prospects or benefits and little security. McDonald's disputes this definition of McJob. In 2007, the company launched an advertising campaign with the slogan "Would you like a career with that?" on Irish television, asserting that its jobs have good prospects.

In an effort to respond to growing consumer awareness of food provenance, the fast-food chain changed its supplier of both coffee beans and milk. UK chief executive Steve Easterbrook said: "British consumers are increasingly interested in the quality, sourcing, and ethics of the food and drink they buy". In a bid to tap into the ethical consumer market, McDonald's switched to using coffee beans taken from stocks that are certified by the Rainforest Alliance, a conservation group. Additionally, in response to pressure, McDonald's UK started using organic milk supplies for its bottled milk and hot drinks, although it still uses conventional milk in its milkshakes, and in all of its dairy products in the United States. According to a report published by Farmers Weekly in 2007, the quantity of milk used by McDonald's could have accounted for as much as 5 percent of the UK's organic milk output.

McDonald's announced on May 22, 2008, that, in the United States and Canada, it would switch to using cooking oil that contains no trans fats for its french fries, and canola-based oil with corn and soy oils, for its baked items, pies and cookies, by year's end.

With regard to acquiring chickens from suppliers who use CAK/CAS methods of slaughter, McDonald's says that it needs to see more research "to help determine whether any CAS system in current use is optimal from an animal welfare perspective."

Enviromental Record

After McDonald's received criticism for its environmental policies in the 1970s, it began to make substantial progress in reducing its use of materials. For instance, an "average meal" in the 1970s—a Big Mac, fries, and a drink—required 46 grams (1.6 oz) of packaging; today, it requires only 25 grams (0.88 oz), a 46 percent reduction. In addition, McDonald's eliminated the need for intermediate containers for cola by having a delivery system that pumps syrup directly from the delivery truck into storage containers, saving two million pounds (910 tonnes) of packaging annually. Overall, weight reductions in packaging and products, as well as increased usage of bulk packaging, ultimately decreased packaging by twenty-four million pounds (11,000 tonnes) annually. McDonald's effort to reduce solid waste by using less packaging and by promoting the use of recycled-content materials has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In 1990, McDonald's worked with the Environmental Defense Fund to stop using "clam shell"-shaped styrofoam food containers to house its food products. Twenty years later, McDonald's announced they would try replacing styrofoam coffee cups with an alternative material.

In April 2008, McDonald's announced that 11 of its Sheffield, England restaurants have been engaged in a biomass trial program that cut its waste and carbon footprint by half in the area. In this trial, wastes from the restaurants were collected by Veolia Environmental Services and were used to produce energy at a power plant. McDonald's plans to expand this project, although the lack of biomass power plants in the United States will prevent this plan from becoming a national standard there anytime soon. In addition, in Europe, McDonald's has been recycling vegetable grease by converting it to fuel for its diesel trucks.

McDonald's uses a corn-based bioplastic to produce containers for some of its products. The environmental benefits of this technology are controversial, with critics noting that biodegradation is slow, produces greenhouse gases, and that contamination of traditional plastic waste streams with bioplastics can complicate recycling efforts.

In an effort to reduce energy usage by 25 percent in its restaurants, McDonald's opened a prototype restaurant in Chicago in 2009 with the intention of using the model in its other restaurants throughout the world. Building on past efforts, specifically a restaurant it opened in Sweden in 2000 that was the first to intentionally incorporate green ideas, McDonald's designed the Chicago site to save energy by incorporating old and new ideas such as managing storm water, using skylights for more natural lighting, and installing some partitions and tabletops made from recycled goods.

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