The first McDonald’s opened 77 years ago today


The first McDonald’s opened on May 15, 1940 as a small hamburger stand called McDonald’s Bar-B-Q.

Brothers Dick and Mac McDonald opened the San Bernardino, California stand before a fateful milkshake order set the burger joint on a course for worldwide domination. As McDonald’s tells it now, Ray Kroc, an Illinois milkshake mixer salesman, came to visit the brothers after they placed a substantial order for eight milkshake makers. Impressed with the “small but successful restaurant” and the “effectiveness of their operation,” Kroc wanted in. He would ultimately make McDonald’s what it is today, acquiring franchise rights from the brothers in 1955 and exclusive naming rights by 1960.

Part of what attracted Kroc to McDonald’s was the small menu, which allowed the burger joint to offer fast, high-quality food. As Business Insider reports, when the stand re-opened after a brief break in 1948, the menu included just nine items. Hamburgers and cheeseburgers were $0.15 and $0.19 cents respectively and coffee or Coca-Cola for $0.10.

Since then, McDonald’s has gotten a lot of miles out of innovating their menu items. Most recently, they’ve turned their attention to “signature crafted recipes.” Things like “pico guacamole” and “maple bacon dijon” garnish their burgers and sandwiches and they’re masters of the limited or regional release. The flurry is real for every McRib release – or most recently, curly fries.

The locations themselves are a far cry from the stands and drive-ins of yesteryear. From landmark locations like the Rock N Roll McDonald in Chicago to the near-luxurious locations around the world, “you have to check out the McDonald’s” is not an unusual thing to hear in, say, Rome. Just last week, McDonald’s announced that it would fund upgrades to restaurants that have been falling into disrepair.

McDonald’s serves 70 million customers every day and is the biggest fast-food chain in the world. They’ve been doing what they do for 77 years now and as tempting as the new stuff is, we have to recommend you order something totally original for their birthday: a burger and a coke.