Dick and Mac McDonald must be rolling in their graves. The two brothers, sons of a New Hampshire shoe factory foreman, would probably turn apoplectic if they walked into a McDonald’s today and took one look at the menu. The 145 choices on offer are the exact opposite of the business phenomenon they built 65 years ago.
The brothers originally opened a hot dog stand in Pasadena in 1937. It was a hit, but they were looking for a bigger volume of business, so they moved to the nearby boom town of San Bernardino on busy Route 66 and opened the first McDonald’s drive-in restaurant in 1940. It quickly became popular with teenagers, who came for the burgers and stayed to hit on the attractive car-hops that served them.
Like many California drive-in restaurants, McDonald’s was raking it in. Yet the brothers thought they could do more, so in 1948 they closed the place down to refit it for speed and volume. They designed new equipment to speed up cooking, fired the car-hops to discourage the sort of lazy hanging out teens are known for, and they pared the menu down from dozens of items to just 11. Read the rest of this entry »