A brief McHistory

The Daily Telegraph, October 2, 1994

  • 1954 Ray Kroc meets the McDonald brothers in San Bernardino, California, and buys a franchise for their hamburger restaurant. He opens in Des Plaines, Illinois, the following year.
  • 1963 The birth of Ronald McDonald and the opening of the 500th McDonald's.
  • 1968 The Big Mac is introduced and the 1,000th restaurant opened.
  • 1974 The first McDonald's in Britain, and the 3,000th worldwide, opens in Woolwich, south-east London. Ironically, the head office is in Hampstead.
  • 1980 Hampstead becomes only the second place in the world to block McDonald's, after Martha's Vineyard, the exclusive Massachusetts seaside resort.
  • 1982 Egon Ronay calls their burgers "uninspiring" in Just a Bite. Later that year an Industrial Tribunal learns of milkshakes laced with mustard and cigarette ends served to old tramp named "Nutty Nora" in McDonald's in Twickenham.
  • 1983 McDonald's opens 100th British restaurant in Manchester.
  • 1984 Ray Kroc dies of a heart complaint in January, aged 81. The business he bought from Dick and "Mac" McDonald in 1961 for $ 2.7 million is now worth $ 5.7 billion.
  • 1984 James Huberty shoots 22 people dead at a McDonald's in San Diego.
  • 1986 The Italian designer Valentino attempts in a Rome Court to stop McDonald's opening near the Piazza di Spagna, complaining of "noise and disgusting odours".
  • 1987 A survey for the Illustrated London News claims to find fewer bacteria in a Big Mac than in a salmon salad at the Dorchester, foie gras at Simply Nico or fish pate at the Connaught.
  • 1989 A manager of McDonald's in Oxford is sacked for swapping his free lunchtime burgers for pizzas from the girl at Pizzaland next door.
  • 1989 The company issues a statement in June to: "quell the persistent rumours" that beef for burgers is grazed on land from cleared South American rain forests.
  • 1990 Thousands of Muscovites queue in the snow as McDonald's opens in Russia. In July the company switches from cooking chips in beef tallow to vegetable oil for health reasons. McDonald's opens in China in October and again seeks planning permission to open a branch in Hampstead.
  • 1991 The low-fat McLean is introduced in the USA using a new additive from seaweed to bind the beef.
  • 1991 The publication of the Big Mac Index in December reveals that it takes 10.5 mins to earn the burger in Japan, 18.2 mins in the UK, 55 mins in Portugal, 124 mins in Yugoslavia and 988 mins in Russia. The 400th McDonald's opens in Britain.
  • 1992 A manageress at McDonald's in Newcastle upon Tyne is jailed for six months after forcing a waitress to make a hoax bomb call to rival Burger King. Top French chef Paul Bocuse claims 1.7 million in damages after an advert portrays him dreaming of a Big Mac. "How can I be seen promoting this tasteless boneless food in which everything is soft?" He admits his grandchildren eat them. In August, visitors to Salisbury Cathedral are offered two burgers for the price of one if they buy a commemorative parchment scroll. The idea is dropped when the bishop gets back from holiday.
  • 1993 The Paris planning authorities refuse permission for a McDonald's under Eiffel Tower. McDonald's opens in Hampstead to the regret of local celebrities including the Labour MP Glenda Jackson and actor Tom Conti. The 500th British restaurant opens in Notting Hill.
  • 1993 In December the Big Mac celebrates its 25th anniversary. Enough have been sold to go round the world thirty-five and a half times.
  • 1994 A lengthy libel action opens at the High Court in London against claims by environmental campaigners Helen Steel and Dave Morris, first made in 1985, that McDonald's is promoting unhealthy food and exploiting animals, workers and the environment. McDonald's denies all the allegations. The company also threatens legal action against a topless restaurant in Australia called McTits. In August an 82-year-old woman is awarded $ 1.9 million after burning herself on McDonald's hot coffee in Albuquerque.
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