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Ray Kroc Legacy More Than Food

October 7, 2009 by  

Ray Kroc, the founder of the world’s most successful fast food chain, was born 107 years ago this week. The one-time milkshake machine salesman was born on Oct. 5, 1902. He opened his first McDonald’s 52 years later. 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. 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 another 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

Chip Wood

is the geopolitical editor of He is the founder of Soundview Publications, in Atlanta, where he was also the host of an award-winning radio talk show for many years. He was the publisher of several bestselling books, including Crisis Investing by Doug Casey, None Dare Call It Conspiracy by Gary Allen and Larry Abraham and The War on Gold by Anthony Sutton. Chip is well known on the investment conference circuit where he has served as Master of Ceremonies for FreedomFest, The New Orleans Investment Conference, Sovereign Society, and The Atlanta Investment Conference.

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  • live to eat

    With all of the success McDonalds has had, also consider the damage caused by a nation that has been feeding itself on Big Macs over the past 50 years. Obesity has become an epidemic, as well as the health care costs associated with obesity (heart disease, diabetes, etc). This is the inevitable outcome of McDonals providing inexpensive, high calorie food to the masses. Consider that the next time you’re celebrating the success of the McDonals corporation.

    • renaldo

      yes, because if there wasn’t a mcdonalds we’d all be eating low carb, all veggies, and not gonig to any other fast food place. I mean it is the corporations fault that people stuff there face and not our own.

      • Marvin

        Don’t mistake simplistic thinking and plain ol’ “common sense” with an intelligent informed opinion.

    • Jean-Philippe Leighton

      I’m sorry, but pinning the blame for Obesity on retaurants and fast food chains is purely idiotic. People who eat fast food on a daily basis can only blame themselves. It’s that simple.

      • Marvin

        What you’re saying is actually what’s “idiotic.” It’s simplistic to think that way and does absolutely no good. The obesity epidemic stems from societal problems not simply from people making poor personal decisions.

        There’s no reason to think that people, in general, are now less responsible for themselves. It’s idiotic to blame a decrease in personal responsibility for the increased rates of obesity. The root problem is societal. It’s that we place the almighty dollar above all else. If a company makes billions of dollars screwing over millions of people then that’s supposed to be A-OK. But it’s not. Not in the long run.

        • cory

          fast food is not the biggest problem causing obesity. it’s laziness and the fact that no one likes to exercise. i myself might eat fast food 2 or 3 times a month (not too often) but it’s the fact that i never get off my ass which is why im fat. anyone who exercises like they are supposed to will be fine eating fast food in moderation or maybe even more if they work it off. we’re a lazy country, that’s why we are experiencing an obesity epidemic, not just because mcdonald’s is popular.

    • Istre

      You really need to read up a bit on current thinking. It was not McDonald’s that made it is our ridiculous over consumption of carbohydrates.

      On a side note, nobody, and I mean nobody has ever been forced to eat McDonalds, ever.

      This coming from a liberal.

      • Fat Kids

        No one was forced …. except for me by my ignorant parents. Now I’m a FAT KID.

  • a different perspective

    It’s ignorant to say that McDonalds itself is responsible for obesity in America. It is for that same reason that I cannot sue McDonalds if I become fat for eating it; it’s simply not their fault. The reason that McDonalds suffers so much scrutiny is that it’s the most successfull and reputable in their market. We see documentaries like Supersize Me that take a biased stance on McDonalds. The reason why so many Americans are obese are because of lack of education, ignorance, laziness and overall neglect from parental figures. It is not only McDonalds that provide inexpensive, high calorie food. In fact it shouldn’t even be viewed as such. McDonalds sell high calorie, unhealthy foods simply because there is a demand for it. If there was a higher demand for healthier alternatives, I can guarantee that they would consider changing their meals. Remember, it isn’t the companies fault. It is your own, so take action and choose a healthier lifestyle. If even a small percentage of Americans choose this stance and create a profitable market, change will occur.

    • Marvin

      It’s not “ignorant” it’s just a bit simplistic. McDonald’s is a big part of the problem, but obviously not the whole problem. I doubt that was what “live to eat” was intending to say.

      There are many reasons for obesity epidemic in our country (and around the world, thanks largely to us exporting our “culture” everywhere) but that doesn’t stop McDonalds from being a very very good example.

  • Noel Barcellos

    @live to eat : When people blame fast food for obesity is like blaming the gas companies for arson fires. You have to make a decision to eat fast food, if you are too stupid to distinguish what is healthy for you or not then it is your responsibility to research and learn.

  • Try exercising

    How about putting some of the blame on the parents and not McDonalds? It’s not like they are forcing anyone to eat their food. Blame bad parenting and lack of exercise, not the food.

  • anon

    This is awful reporting.

    “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.”

    What does this mean? Does this mean that millionaires got their first job at McD’s and then got some job somewhere else that made them millions? Or that they became millionaires by going up the corporate ladder? Or what?

    How many millionaires?

    • wooooo

      they owned stock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I hate liberals

    Live to eat: you’re the problem with America you damn liberal.

  • Nooneforcesyoutoeatmcdonalds

    Live to eat is just mad because he cant control what he eats and is fat because of it.

  • let’s hunt and eat Republicans

    That McD’s offers so much employment opportunity is obviously good; not everyone “wants” to work at McDonald’s but then again not everyone wanted to go to school either. You do what needs to be done to survive the best one can – and sometimes we get lucky.

    It is a shame, however, that this once illustrious drive-in burger joint is now the purveyor of mass produced, semi-edible, toxic garbage that is consumed by so many world-wide.

    No, no one is “forced” to eat at these places – but when you’re driving home from work and this is the only type of restaurant in your neighborhood (you don’t many Burger Kings in nice neighborhoods – if you think you live in a nice neighborhood and there’s a McDonald’s nearby – you’re wrong) and you have $17 to feed your whole family (because your salary sucks but your taxes are still higher than your boss’s) it’s not much of a choice either.

    I don’t expect any conservatives to even understand what I’m saying, it would require some level of empathy. But when liberals say “no one forced you” and there’s a fast-food joint on every corner of that poor slob’s block…well, you’re not a liberal at all, just an idiot.

    If they actually sold a decent burger at McDonald’s I’d still eat there – but we all know it is about as far from a real hamburger as you can get. Plenty of appetite suppressants, though.

    On a side note: do the world a favor and punch a Republican today (remember, things got this bad thanks to them).

    • M Simona

      I love you! Let’s hunt together. You stated everything I would say to the flimsy statements above.

      You conservatives (and one conservative in liberal’s clothing) fail to understand a very basic fact. It is frequently cheaper to feed your family McD’s than nutritious food. Further, you don’t understand what a “food desert” is, but it’s inherent to this discussion. You should google that term before bringing your malinformed arguments here.

      • libertytrain

        Gosh I didn’t see anything in this article proclaiming anything re nutrition – or people having to buy their products. Were we reading the same article?

  • robert parker

    no source for this figure? we’re supposed to take some 15 sentence op-ed’s word for it? I don’t understand the point either. how many millionaires did AIG, Lehman-Brothers, and Sallie Mae make, at what cost?


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