15 Things You Never Knew About McDonald's (in Honor of Ray Kroc's 110th Birthday)
The Late Mickey D's Owner Didn't Achieve His Big Success Until He Was 52 Years Old
If he were still alive, today would be McDonald's daddy Ray Kroc's 110th birthday. In honor of the man who gave us Big Macs, Shamrock Shakes and, we maintain, the all-time best fast food French fries, here are 15 fascinating facts about Kroc and McDonald's:
1 -- Kroc is on Time magazine's Most Important People of the Century list for his amazing success with McDonald's. As he once told an interviewer, he was diabetic, had arthritis, had his gallbladder and most of his thyroid removed by the time he was 52 in 1954, but that's the year he joined the McDonald brothers in running their eateries and, after buying the restaurants from the brothers (for $2.7 million) in 1961, he turned them into the most successful fast food business in the world. "I was an overnight success all right, but 30 years is a long, long night," Kroc said.
2 -- By 1963, McDonald's had already sold 1 billion hamburgers.
3 -- Kroc also founded Ronald McDonald House Charities, a non-profit organization that supports sick children and their families. RMHC operates in 57 countries and regions and helps 8,000 families around the world each day.
4 -- Ronald McDonald was created in 1963, and former Today Show weatherman Willard Scott -- then a Washington, D.C. radio personality -- was among the first to play Ronald, who is now officially known as the Chief Happiness Officer of McDonald's.
5 -- Ronald McDonald has a dog named Sundae. Austin Powers actor Verne Troyer portrayed Sundae in the 1998 direct-to-video movie The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: Scared Silly:
6 -- The Big Mac, one of McDonald's signature menu items, was invented in 1967 in a Pittsburgh-area Mickey D's. It cost 45 cents and was so popular it was launched nationally the next year.
7 -- The company sells more than 75 hamburgers ... every second.
8 -- McDonald's serves 68 million customers a day in 119 countries.
9 -- Ray Kroc owned the San Diego Padres baseball team from 1974 until 1984, the year he died.
10 -- McDonald's has its own university. Hamburger University is an 80-acre campus in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook, where employees and owners go for management training. More than 80,000 people have graduated with "Bachelor of Hamburgerology" degrees.
11 -- Celebrities who were once McDonald's employees: Pink, Fred Durst, Rachel McAdams, Shania Twain, Seal, Jay Leno, Olympian Carl Lewis, Sharon Stone, NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, Macy Gray and Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. One out of every eight Americans has worked at McDonald's at some point in their lives.
12 -- Thanks to the Happy Meal, which cost just a dollar when it was introduced in 1979, McDonald's is the world's largest toy distributor.
13 -- The world's oldest McDonald's was opened in 1953 in Downey, California and is still operating. In Dallas, there's a McDonald's franchise that's shaped like a Happy Meal (pictured in the photo above).
14 -- The Queen of England owns her own McDonald's, near Windsor Castle, reports the U.K. Daily Mail.
15 -- Even McDonald's has had some failures throughout the company's history. Among the not-so-happy meals that failed to secure a permanent spot on the McDonald's menu: McLobster sandwiches, the Hula Burger (grilled pineapple and cheese on a bun) and Shamrock Sundaes, a Shamrock Shake spin-off that featured vanilla ice cream topped with a minty, bright green syrup (which, yes, looked like cough syrup). Check out a vintage commercial for the Shamrock Sundae below: