McDonald's Corporation is a U.S.-based multinational restaurant chain that serves hamburgers, fries, chicken sandwiches and drinks. The company is the largest restaurant chain by revenue and serves more than 69 million customers daily. Total revenue topped $23 billion in 2022, with most revenue coming from its franchisees. The company operates in 100 countries and is the world's second-largest private employer, with more than 200,000 executives, managers, cooks and front-line staff.
McDonald's most iconic food items include French fries and the Big Mac. McDonald's serves hot and crispy fries. Its Big Mac is a double-decker burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato and "secret sauce," a combination of thousand island and French dressing that evokes a sharper flavor.
Richard and Maurice McDonald founded McDonald's in 1940. Its first restaurant location was in San Bernardino, California, and it quickly rebranded into a hamburger stand. The new concept met colossal success, and soon, the two were franchising their brand to other operators. The key to the brother's success was the Speedee Service System introduced in 1948. This system modeled concepts established by earlier chains.
The company introduced the golden arches in 1953 in Arizona and reached a significant turning point in 1955 when Ray Kroc entered the picture. He came aboard as the company's franchising agent and bought the company while expanding it. His first restaurant was the company's ninth total, but many agree that Kroc created the modern McDonald's Corporation. During his tenure, McDonald's expanded its footprint, enhanced its menu and grew into international territories.
The fictional character Ronald McDonald came to life in 1963. He lives in McDonaldland with his pals Mayor McCheese, Grimace, Birdie the Early Bird, the Fry Kids and the Hamburglar. He was invented as a marketing ploy to attract children and has become one of the nation's most beloved characters. At the peak of his popularity, the company employed more than 300 full-time clowns to portray Ronald McDonald.
Today, McDonald's Corporation operates and franchises McDonald's restaurants globally. The company generates revenue via sales in company-owned stores and rents, fees and royalties from its franchisees. The company's business model is to aid franchisees with real estate purchases and buildings so that it can collect on rent and other fees and brand royalties. As of 2022, the company owns about 45% of the land its restaurants sit on and 70% of the buildings. This model not only generates additional revenue and earnings but helps to insulate it from ups and downs in the consumer cycle.
As of December 31, 2023, the company operated about 38,000 restaurants, which includes the closing or divestiture of business in Russia.