Hate to say it but I worked there. (now I'm vegan tee hee)

Tips for the McDonald's goers amongst us who would like to "get the most for their money":

* If you find yourself in a less-than-average McD's and worry about the state of what you're buying, look into the holding bins (the metal thing with all the burger slides), there should be a little card/number standing up behind the burger you're about to buy. (If not, then complain. It's a problem and it'll throw people into hissies, since 90% of employees don't know how to use them properly) Anyway, the number refers to the numbers on a clock, but not the hour, rather the minutes. If the big hand is already past the number that shows, then the burger is not good to eat.

* To get your burger fresh, you can either point that out and make them throw them all away, or you can just special order a burger (it'll always be fresh -- ESPECIALLY if you ask for it without salt. All burgers are salted and to make a burger without salt requires cooking everything fresh from scratch). By far the best idea if you have the time.

* To get your fries fresh (this is a little more advanced -- it's for more regular McD goers) watch the vats into which the cold fries are dropped. A button will be pushed to start a time, after 30 seconds the timer will beep to say shake the fries, after another minute the beeper will ring again to take the fries out. Then in 5 minutes the beeper should ring again (as long as new fries haven't been put into the fryer) saying that the fries are too old. At that point, they must be thrown out. (Almost no one does -- hence bad fries)

* The last tip for today is: complain. You will ALWAYS get your way if you argue with a manager. They simply don't have the time to deal with it and by typing in a 4 digit number they can give you ANYTHING free and they almost certainly will.

NOTE: I tell you all this NOT necessarily because I want you to eat more burgers or fries (which by the way are ALSO covered in lard -- they are NOT vegetarian) but because in using these techniques you take money out of the pockets of McDonald's.

More tips to come.



Forgot to mention: I don't think Ray Kroc really was all was that bad. I mean, what he produced, sure. But he himself was pretty cool. From what I know, whenever he went into a McD's (after the store was bought away from him in the 60s or 70s) if the bathroom was dirty, he would clean it himself. He cared about his idea -- it's what came after that that turned evil. You know, kind of like Annakin and Darth Vader.
Mc Donald's french fries are not fried in lard anymore. Not for at least 10 years.

However, it was recently "discovered" that the natural flavoring in them is at least partially of animal origin, specifically, beef. This was discovered by Eric Schlosser while writing Fast Food Nation.

Think about this for a while. The whole cholesterol scare comes up, no one wants lard anymore, so Mickey D's replaces it with hydrogenated vegetable oil which is as saturated as lard, and a beef extract, so that the fries basically taste the same as if they were fried in lard. Sure there's less cholesterol, but now we know that saturated fat is every bit as bad. And, sorry, are you a vegetarian, or better yet, a Hindu? Oh well, we'll just not tell you.

There's currently a lawsuit being filed by vegetarians and Hindus in the United States about this very issue. In fact, many Hindus who believed they were eating cow-free fries are now very concerned, because they are not sure atonement for their actions is possible, and this will significantly affect their afterlife and attainment of nirvana. Since McDonald's didn't disclose animal ingredients in their fries, and may have insinuated they were not there by advertising no lard, they may have an issue here.

And, by the way, french fries at McDonald's in India do not have the beef flavoring in them, and are in fact vegetarian. They also have the Maharaja Mac which is made of mutton instead of beef, and do not sell any pork due to the large Muslim population there.

The original McDonald's was opened up in San Bernardino, California in 1940 by the McDonald brothers (It's been torn down but there is a plaque marking the site.). The original menu items were:

  • Hamburger (No cheeseburger, no Big Mac, nada, that's all they had.)
  • Fries
  • Soda
  • Shakes

Enter Ray Kroc. In 1954 the McDonald brothers order a large batch of milk shake makers from him, intriuged by the large order, he visited the restaurant. Interestingly enough, the McDonald's of yesteryear was strikingly similar with In-N-Out Burger! They actually made their fries from (*Gasp*) fresh potatoes and had thicker shakes. The following year Kroc had made an agreement with the brothers for a franchise with a 1% gross income share, and the first francised McDonald's opened in Des Plaines, Illinois.

By 1960 Ray had opened 200 restaurants throughout the United States. The following he bought the McDonald brothers' share of the business for $3 million and in 1965 the company went public and became the McDonald's Corporation.1 And the rest is history.


Notes

  1. Taken from http://community-2.webtv.net/CadillacJackDJ/History/ (Paragraph 7)

"We are not basically in the food business. We are in the real estate business."1
"We are in the real estate business. The only reason we sell hamburgers is because they are the greatest producer of revenue from which our tenants can pay us rent."2

Regardless of whether either variant of the quotes above, often attributed to former McDonald's CFO, Harry J. Sonneborn were actually uttered, there is little doubt that they are nonetheless true. While McDonald's does not generally outright advertise this -- although inferences to it can be found on the corporate website -- perhaps one of the most negelected points people seem to miss, when talking about McDonald's, is the fact that the corporation is a real estate powerhouse.

The largest commercial real estate landowner in the United States, McDonald's property portfolio was estimated to be valued around eight billion dollars, as of 2001. The origins of McDonald's real estate empire begin much earlier than this, however.

Although McDonald's first opened its doors in 1954, it wasn't until 1956, after courting many an investor, did Ray Kroc consider and implement an idea put forth by Sonneborn, to tap into the real estate market. Shortly after Sonnenborn made his pitch to the investors (the same audience to whom he purported made the statements above), the Franchise Realty Corporation, McDonald's real estate subsidiary, was born.

In simplified terms, McDonald's makes money on real estate via two methods. First, it buys and sells properties, as one might suspect. Often these are restaurant lots, but such is not necessarily always the case. McDonald's will buy properties that it feels are, or will be, hot locations, and it of course sells properties that are underperforming or otherwise not doing so well. Again, all of this seems pretty orthodox.

Secondly, on top of the franchise fees which McDonald's charges its franchisees to use the "McDonald's" name, it charges rent to the franchisees to use the corporately-owned properties. According to their August, 2003 10-Q, McDonald's had approximately $1.6 billion dollars in earnings available for fixed charges, for the six months prior to June 30, 2003. Of those earnings, $141.6 million -- nearly ten percent -- came from "rent charges...considered to be representative of interest factor"3.

...nope, those numbers sure ain't no small fries. In the end, while it is true that McDonald's is best known for its famous burgers and fries, it might be said that the corporation's overall focus is aimed more at construction than consumption.




Works Cited:
  • 1http://www.swarthmore.edu/bulletin/archive/96/nov96/backpages.html
  • 2http://www.campusprogram.com/reference/en/wikipedia/m/mc/mcdonald_s_corporation.html
  • 3http://eol.finsys.com/%5Cedgar_conv_html%5C2003%5C08%5C08%5C0001047469-03-026735.html

Works Referenced:
  • http://www.smartmoney.com/tradecraft/index.cfm?story=20020415
  • http://www.realestatejournal.com/reits/reits/20010711-gibson.html
  • http://mcdonalds.com/corp/franchise/realestate.html
  • http://www.bus.lsu.edu/academics/entrepreneurial/franchiseclass/pages/Knowledge/Introduction.html

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