In the 1930s, brothers Dick and Mac McDonald were struggling to make a living running a movie theater in California when they noticed that a nearby hot dog stand always seemed to do a lot of business. With a $5,000 loan, the McDonald brothers started the Airdrome hot dog stand in 1937. By 1940, they moved it from Arcadia to San Bernardino and changed the name to McDonald’s Barbeque.
Their simple menu and assembly-line efficiency soon attracted the attention of milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc. He asked Dick and Mac to hire him as their franchise agent in 1955: in exchange for licensing the name to him, the brothers would get a percentage of sales.
It was a massively profitable arrangement all around. With Ray Kroc opening franchises across the country, McDonalds became the most successful fast food operation in the world.
In 1961, Ray Kroc bought the company and exclusive rights to the McDonalds name from the McDonald brothers, who asked for $2.7 million and the right to control their original restaurant, which they renamed “The Big M”, having sold “McDonalds” to Kroc.
Perhaps smarting from the high price, Kroc opened up a McDonalds right across the street from The Big M and ran the McDonald brothers out of business in six months.
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McDonald’s stores number more than 30,000 and are located in more than 100 countries. They collectively serve 52 million people every day.