You can go anywhere in the world and still recognize those two golden arches silhouetted against a solid red background. McDonald‘s is not only a name, it’s a brand. It’s one of the most renowned brands in the history of America, and by extension, the world. Despite the fact that we live in a post-Supersize Me society, McDonald’s is still one of the most daily-visited restaurants globally. In fact, McDonald’s has been around for so long that its name and label are now simply embedded in the American conscious. This weekend, however, fans of the fast-food-fav can see how it all began. Director John Lee Hancock’s The Founder is now playing in theaters nationwide. Starring Michael Keaton (Beetlejuice, Birdman), Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation, 22 Jump Street), John Carroll Lynch (Gran Torino, Crazy Stupid Love), Linda Cardellini (Grandma’s Boy, Avengers: Age of Ultron), BJ Novak (The Office, Inglorious Basterds), and Laura Dern (Jurassic Park, The Master), The Founder tells the tale of Ray Kroc, the passionate salesman who took the McDonald brothers’ small burger shack and turned it into the internationally known conglomerate we know today.
Although Ray Kroc is credited as the founder of the McDonald’s we know today, the origin story of the world-famous fast food conglomerate is one of the American Dream. The McDonald brothers, Mac and Dick, grew up in New Hampshire and, having watched their father dismissed from the work force after 40 years because of his age, set out to California in search of fortune to secure their futures. They started out like many, working in movie studios in LA hauling equipment here and there and scrapping by on measly salaries. Their first endeavor outside of Hollywood was a movie theater in Glendora, California, but they again scraped on by with the weight of the Great Depression and after seven years, sold the movie theater to go into the food service industry. Their small food stands surrounding Foothill Flying Field proved to be their first success. After a number of years, however, the entrepreneurs closed the stands and moved to the up-and-coming town of San Bernadino, where they opened McDonald’s Barbeque, a roadside drive-in diner that brought hot meals right to your window.
Having made it through the rationed war years, the brothers soon found themselves with plenty of competition following the boom in automotive sales, the construction of the American highway system, and the birth of Suburbia. They decided to temporarily close down in order to reassess a way to distinguish themselves from other drive-in diners. The goal was to create a profitable business that was more efficient than any other. The brothers decided to apply an assembly-line approach to their business model, cutting unpopular menu items and utilizing equipment like mechanized dispensers, Multimixers®, and a press for shaping beef into patties. They reshaped their business so that customers would have to walk up to the window to order, and cut down on variety in order to deliver hot meals from their revolutionary kitchen in just 20 seconds.