McDonalds celebrates 50 years

Fast-food giant McDonald’s celebrates its 50th birthday today.

The burger chain’s first restaurant was opened by Ray Kroc in Des Plaines, Illinois, when he founded the company that evolved into McDonald’s Corporation.

Today there are more than 30,000 McDonald’s restaurants in 119 countries, including more than 1,000 in the UK.

Kroc had mortgaged his home and invested his entire life savings to become the exclusive distributor of a five-spindled milkshake maker called the Multimixer.

When in 1954 he visited the hamburger stand run by Dick and Mac McDonald in San Bernardino, California, which ran eight Multimixers at a time, inspiration struck.

Impressed by the number of people being served so quickly, he pitched the idea of opening up several restaurants to the brothers, convinced that he could sell eight of his Multimixers to each and every one.

Kroc was granted exclusive US franchising rights by the brothers and McDonald’s was born.

When the first restaurants came to Britain in the 1970s, customers travelled miles to eat in them.

Ronald McDonald, the famous scarlet-haired clown made his first TV appearance in 1963, played by Willard Scott.

Two years later McDonald’s went public, with its first offering on the stock exchange.

A hundred shares of stock costing 2,250 that day would have multiplied into 74,360 shares today, which were worth over 1.8 million at the end of 2003.

Perhaps the chain’s most well-known dish, the Big Mac was the brainchild of Jim Delligatti, one of Kroc’s earliest franchisees.

It was introduced across the chain in 1968.

Another innovation was the Happy Meal, devised in 1979.

The chain will open a new restaurant in downtown Chicago to mark its 50th anniversary.

The Des Plaines restaurant is now a museum containing McDonald’s memorabilia and artifacts.

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