Close your eyes. Picture yourself biting into a delicious fast-food burger. Chances are, that savory taste that you’re picturing as your mouth starts to water is coming from the industry leader, McDonald’s, right?

McDonald’s restaurants evoke fond childhood memories for many. If you’re old enough, you may even recall the spread of the franchise. McDonald’s restaurants quickly defined how an emerging industry would make and prepare its food.

The Emergence of an Industry Leader

While fast food technically started in 1921 with White Castle, the growth and expansion of the McDonald’s franchise in the 1950s and 60s is what we think of when we think of fast food. The franchise originated with Maurice and Rich McDonald’s namesake restaurant in San Bernadino, California.

But it wasn’t until appliance salesman Ray Kroc became infatuated with their process, that the expansion of the McDonald’s franchise became a reality. Kroc looked at practices such as the self-service counter, and the use of heat lamps to keep previously cooked burgers warm as opportunities to create a high level of efficiency.

He struck a deal with the brothers to franchise the restaurant, opening a restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois, while launching the McDonald’s Corporation in Oak Brook. McDonald’s restaurants began popping up in cities all over the US, with the number topping 1,000 by the end of the 1960s.

Creating a Brand Around Recognizable Symbols 

What do you think of when you think of Mcdonald’s? If it’s not the food, it might be the golden arches. That logo began in 1962. Ronald McDonald has been the recognizable face of the franchise since 1963.

Even many of today’s menu staples have been around since the 60s and 70s, including Big Macs, Egg McMuffins, and Happy Meals.

The Popularity Continues on Today

The golden arches and Ronald McDonald continue to be the recognizable symbols of the hamburger franchise. Many of the menu staples maintain their high levels of popularity among the public.

There are 39,198 McDonald’s restaurants worldwide, in 119 markets. Think about that next time you sink your teeth into one of their delicious burgers.