McDonald’s is amongst the largest fast food corporations in the world. On April 17, the company announced that the revenue in the first quarter this year was $5.68 billion and the earnings per share reached $1.47. Despite the expected decline of 0.8 percent in domestic sales, the global fast food chain managed to generate a growth of 1.7 percent. As fascinating as it is to read about its strong restaurant sales, plenty of facts about this fast food enterprise will shock you.
From its history, ingredients, to business processes, there are some mind-blowing facts that you may find shocking, facts the company simply doesn’t want you to know. For instance, when you order a hamburger, have you ever thought about the fact that you’re eating a mixture of 100 cattle? Or that sometime you are not eating beef at all? Their McWraps may seem rather heathy—but their sodium level hits half of an adult’s daily max! Did you know that McDonald’s is banned in certain countries? Or that such a thing as a McDonald’s University exists? Here are 15 disturbing facts that will leave you with a whole new understanding of the world’s most popular fast food chain.
15. THE WORLD’S BIGGEST TOY DISTRIBUTOR
You think Toys “R” Us distributes the most toys in the world? Nope, you’re wrong. Since the restaurant debuted Happy Meals in June 1979, McDonald’s has successfully stolen the title of ‘number one toy distributor’ from many of the leading toy retailers. Twenty percent of its sales go to Happy Meals, which have a signature practice of including a free toy. Every year, it is reported that McDonald’s delivers around 1.5 million toys. The Happy Meals alone represents about $3 billion in annual sales for McDonalds, that is even more than the total sales revenues than Wendy’s and Burger King.
14. HAMBURGER CONTAINs PARTS FROM 100 DIFFERENT COWS
Given the scale and prosperity of McDonald’s, it’s not surprising to learn that the beef that you are eating is from different cows. But if you think it’s just a combination of 3 or 4 cattle, then you underestimate the ability of McDonald’s. In the United Kingdom, the beef of the burgers comes from more than 16,000 British and Irish farmers. After the delivery of fore-quarters and flanks, McDonald’s will combine beef from different delivery batches by blending them together. It is possible for the minced beef to have more than 100 different cattle in it because of the scale needed. So when you grab a hamburger at McDonald’s next time, just be aware that you may be tasting a variety of different cows.
13. BEEF PARTIES – OR PINK SLIME PATTIES?
Let’s say you are a meat lover, you really don’t care about the number of cattle in your beloved patty. However, what if the beef in your McDonald’s burger is not the fresh one you expect? Instead, it is ‘pink slime’, or shall we call it in a better name— lean and finely textured beef. Pink Slime is the processed lean beef trimmings, and it is used as a filler to cut down the overall fat content of ground beef, which may contain harmful pathogens. McDonald’s admitted that the company used this low-grade meat in the burger. Luckily, thanks to Jamie Oliver’s persuasion, McDonald’s has abandoned the filler from its hamburgers.
12. IT OPENS A NEW RESTAURANT EVERY 4 HOUR
McDonald’s is very, very popular. We can’t stress enough how successful this franchise is in sheer wealth and size. It has around 36,900 shops around the globe. About every 4 hours there is a new McDonald’s restaurant somewhere in the world. Even statistics experts are amazed by the incredible business of McDonald’s. Just don’t be too surprised, the restaurant giant sells more than 75 hamburgers in a second, it serves about 9 million pounds of fries worldwide in a day, and has sold over a total of 4 trillion fries since 1948. Also, it sells over 1 billion cups of coffee each year and sells 500 million cups a day in the United States. No wonder there are new McDonald’s popping up everywhere.
11. 1 IN EVERY 8 AMERICAN HAS BEEN HIRED BY MCDONALD’S
Well, McDonald has 1.9 million employees worldwide, which is more people than the total population of Latvia and Luxembourg. The company has made it into the fourth position of ‘The World’s Biggest Employer,’ especially since the total number of staff can build a country itself. More surprisingly, McDonald’s hires around 1 million workers in the United States every year. When you walk on the streets, 1 in every 8 Americans you pass is currently or a former worker of McDonald’s. Some American and Canadian celebrities have also worked at McDonald’s before they were famous, including Sharon Stone, Shania Twain, Jay Leno, Rachel McAdams and Pink.
10. INHUMANE TREATMENT OF ANIMALS
McDonald’s has long been criticized for its cruel practices towards the animals. In recent years, several undercover investigations into McDonald’s slaughterhouses have revealed the abominable cruelty to the animals. The chickens were dumped out of their transport carriers and hung upside down in metal shackles. This can lead to serious bruising, hemorrhaging and broken bones. The birds were also beaten, immersed in tanks of scalding-hot water while alive and stabbed to death. The animals clearly undergo extreme suffering. As a world-leading company, McDonald’s is still reluctant to ask its suppliers to phrase out these inhumane practices and adopt other less cruel methods of slaughter, such as ‘Controlled-Atmosphere Killing’, which is known as CAK.
9. IT IS AS ADDICTIVE AS COCAINE
This fact is terribly true. Research shows that McDonald’s products cause cocaine like addiction. It’s closely linked to the amount of sugar found in the food and how addicting that can be. Almost all items on McDonald’s menu contain sugar; the fruit smoothies, for example, has more sugar than a Coke. Sugar and carbohydrates lights up the same part of the brain that cocaine does. Besides, when you consume high-calorie foods at McDonald’s, it will overload the ‘pleasure centers’ in the brain in the same way as cocaine does. Once the pleasure centers ‘crash,’ the brain will require more junk food. So let’s be honest, if you go to McDonald’s often, it’s not because you love the food, but because you are literally addicted.
8. SUSPICIOUS ‘VEGETARIAN FOOD’
If you are a vegan, you may find it hard to have a suitable meal at McDonald’s. And, the vegetarian claims by the company are never reliable. In 2001, the company was sued for cooking their french fries in beef broth, despite claiming they solely used vegetable oil. After a year, McDonald’s alleged its failure for not disclosing the use of flavoring in its fries and paid $10 million to Hindu, vegetarian and other groups. You would think that at least the hash brows are vegan-friendly. But please remember that in certain stores milk is used in cooking the hash brown. We recommend that you communicate with a McDonald’s employee if you are unsure about the ingredients being used.
7. FILET-O-FISH VS HULA BURGER
Filet-O-Fish was introduced to the menu to attract Roman Catholics, who have a tradition of not eating meat on Friday. By now it is one of the most popular items in McDonald’s, especially among the vegetarians. But you never know, Fillet-O-Fish was almost replaced by an awful burger. When the fast-food chain decided to have its first meatless burger, it led to the battle between Filet-O-Fish (invented by Lou Groen) and Hula Burger (owned by Ray Kroc, McDonald’s company owner), which was a cold bun with a grilled pineapple and cheese in it. Fortunately, Filet-O-Fish was a sure-fire winner as reflected in its immediate popularity and sales, and was soon added to the permanent menu.
6. ITS ‘HEALTHY FOODS’ IS THE WORST THING FOR YOUR HEALTH
Consumers are becoming more and more conscious about their health now, and they tend to prefer having food with natural ingredients. McDonald’s saw this trend and introduced different lines of ‘healthy foods.’ Ironically, they are even more harmful for you than the fries and hamburgers. McWrap, which is promoted as healthy menu choice at McDonald’s, contains 1130 milligrams of sodium. That is the amount that is more than half the amount that is recommended for an adult. It is the same case for the company’s salad. Its Kale salad contains 730 calories, 53 grams of fat, and 1,400 milligrams of salt, whereas a Double Big Mac contains 680 calories, 38 grams of fat, and 1,340 milligrams of salt. So just remember that if you are looking for a healthy item at McDonald’s, a burger is a better choice than a salad.
5. ‘McDonald’s’ University
Have you heard of such an institution? Indeed, McDonald’s has its own university named Hamburger University. It was founded in 1961 and has 8 campuses around the globe, including Tokyo, London, Sydney and Shanghai. You may be thinking that a typical curriculum includes lessons on how to fry fries and flip burgers. As fun and funny as that would be, you’re actually wrong. The curriculum focuses on leadership development and management. There are about 16 full-time college professors in each campus and the courses can be taught in 28 different languages. The university is no joke! It’s not easy to be admitted by a McDonald’s Hamburger University. The selection rate at its Shanghai campus is just 1%. By far, more than 80,000 students around the world have graduated with a Bachelor of Hamburgerology degree.
4. ITS FRENCH FRIES CONTAINS over 15 INGREDIENTS
How do you cook fries at home? Potatoes. Salt. Canola Oil. These three basics should be all it takes to make good fries. Well McDonald’s would laugh at such a puny list of ingredients! McDonald’s use 12 more ingredients besides the three ingredients we mentioned earlier. One of them is the controversial natural beef flavour (replacing beef oil), and let’s check out the other 11 ingredients: soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, hydrolysed wheat, hydrolysed milk, citric acid, dimethylpolysiloxane, dextrose, corn oil, sodium acid pyrophosphate, tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ).
3. MORE THAN 10 COUNTRIES HAVE BANNED McDonald’s
Here comes the most shocking fact for the die-hard fan of McDonald’s. The fast-food giant does not always find it easy to set up a shop everywhere. And the reasons behind this is interesting to note. When McDonald’s attempted to expand to Bermuda in 1999, the local government prevented its entry because it would cheapen the culture. In Ghana, the reason was more confusing, McDonald’s received the message that ‘it is not wanted in Ghana’ because the residents believe that having McDonald’s would only ‘sully the progress of their country.’ Politics is the major cause of not inviting McDonald’s to North Korea and Zimbabwe. On top of that, McDonald’s is also banned from Iceland, Yemen, Macedonia, Bolivia and Iran.
2. IT EARNS MORE FROM RENT THAN FOOD
Many believe that the iconic food is the reason behind McDonald’s enormous success in the fast food industry. Surprisingly, as its former CFO Harry J. Sonneborn stated, McDonald’s was not technically in the food business, but in the real estate business. McDonalds’s corporation is the largest owner of retail property in the world, and the profit from rent is much greaert than what they receive from the food. According to statistics, nearly 85 percent of the company was represented by franchisee-run locations. In such cases, McDonald’s buys the properties and then leases them to its franchisees. In 2016, 82 percent of the revenue came from franchisee rent and fee, compared with only 16 percent generated from the sales of its company-operated locations.
1. THE ORIGINAL OWNERS WERE FORCED OUT OF THE BUSINESS
The very first McDonald’s was set up in 1940 by Dick and Mac McDonald, known as the MacDonald Brothers, in San Bernardino, California. The brothers had seen success in burger sales in 1953 and they were noticed by Ray Kroc, who was a milkshake machine salesman at the time. Kroc saw a great opportunity in the concept and decided to partner with the MacDonald brothers, serving as a franchising agent. In 1961, Kroc cut the brothers out of percentage deal because he felt their ambition falling short of his own. Since then, Kroc became the owner of McDonald’s Corporation, and McDonald Brothers were driven out of the business, as well as the company history. For a brand promoting happiness and harmony, McDonald’s definitely doesn’t want you to know this part of their disgraceful past.
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