The Birth of McDonald’s

McDonald’s was born 115 years ago today. Sort of. Actually, Ray Kroc was born October 5, 1902. But it was Kroc who made hamburger history.

At age 15, eager to be an ambulance corpsman in World War I, Kroc joined the Red Cross, lying about his age. Before he completed his training, however, the war ended, whereupon he worked for decades in various jobs. In 1954, as a salesman for a milk-shake machine company, the middle-aged Kroc visited a California restaurant that used an assembly-line approach to the preparation of food and offered just a few menu items.

The Multimixer salesman then sat down with the owners of the hamburger joint – the McDonald brothers – and hammered out a franchise agreement. The next year, he founded McDonald’s System, Inc., which by 1958 had sold its hundred-millionth hamburger. When Kroc died in 1984, there were more than 7,500 McDonald’s restaurants around the world.

Ray Kroc is a testament to what one man can do. So remember him the next time you order a quarter-pounder with cheese. One man. One franchise. World history.

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