Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, was born 108 years ago this week. The onetime milkshake machine salesman was born on Oct. 5, 1902. Today it is almost impossible to grasp how huge the company he founded has become.
McDonald’s has some 15,000 restaurants in this country, with 85 percent of them owned by franchisees. And listen to what those outlets have accomplished: More than half of the workers in America today got their very first job at a McDonald’s somewhere. The company has made more millionaires — and especially more black and Hispanic millionaires — than any other entity ever.
Kroc died in January 1984, just 10 months before McDonald’s sold its 50 billionth hamburger. That’s eight burgers for every man, woman and child on earth today. When some genius had each order-taker ask, "Would you like fries with that?" sales (and our waistlines) increased dramatically.
Today, of the 90 meals a month we consume, the average American eats three of them at McDonald’s. Or at least they get their food there; most customers pick up their order at the drive-up window. But we’re not all dining on Big Macs. Today McDonald’s sells as much chicken as it does beef.
And here’s a fun factoid: Years ago, the Washington, D.C.-area McDonald’s sponsored a television show called "Bozo’s Circus." On it the company spokesman, Ronald McDonald, was played by a 25-year-old Willard Scott. You’ll know him better as the Today Show weatherman who celebrates centenarians’ birthdays.
— Chip Wood