20 Surprising Facts About McDonald’s

We all know their juicy burgers, crispy fries and the friendly Ronald McDonald, but what secrets lie behind McDonald's golden arches?

MOSCOW, RUSSIA-October 6, 2014: McDonald's food. McDonald's Corporation is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, serving around 68 million customers daily in 119 countriesAndrey Armyagov/Shutterstock

McDonald’s is inescapable. They are constantly launching bigger and better locations worldwide, to join their fleet of approximately 37,000 existing locations. But there’s a lot more about McDonald’s than you might realize. Here are some fun facts you probably didn’t know about McDonald’s.

Craving a Big Mac right now? Whip up one of our McDonald’s copycat recipes.

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Des Plaines, IL - May 20, 2017: First ever location of McDonald's, located at 400 Lee St in Des Plaines, IL, at night, which is now a McDonald's Museum, is seen in state of despair. ; Shutterstock ID 644462128; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of Home
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Its roots are in barbecue

The first McDonald’s opened way back in 1940 in San Bernadino, California, but they weren’t flipping burgers—they were serving up barbecue! That first McDonald’s location is now a museum. The first franchised McDonald’s location you’ll recognize designed in the traditional McDonald’s style wasn’t opened until 1955 in Des Plaines, Illinois.

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BANGKOK,THAILAND - MARCH 10,2018 :little Asian girl holding happy meal box at McDonald's restaurant; Shutterstock ID 1047090799; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of Home
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You’re really never that far from your next Happy Meal

Doesn’t it feel like there’s a McDonald’s on every corner? Even in the remotest places in the United States, you’re never more than 115 miles away from the restaurant chain. It’s no wonder they top the list of the biggest franchises. They also rank number one as the top distributor of toys in the world, giving away 1.5 billion toys annually in their Happy Meals.

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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 17 2012: Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II visits Liverpool Albert Dock during her Diamond Jubilee tour of Great Britain, Liverpool, England. May 17 2012; Shutterstock ID 114857485
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The Queen owned one

The Queen of England owned approximately $11 billion of real estate in the United Kingdom, including a McDonald’s near Buckingham Palace. We wonder what the Queen used to order from the menu. We do know she loved these foods when she was at home!

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Sedona, AZ - May 13, 2017: McDonald's in Sedona, AZ is the only one in the world with turquoise arches. City officials said to feel the yellow would contrasting too much against the scenic red rock.; Shutterstock ID 643234660
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Not all arches are gold

Taking a trip abroad? Or to the Grand Canyon? You might spot arches that aren’t golden. On the Champs-Elysees in Paris, one of the top shopping destinations in the world, the arches are neon white. And in Sedona, Arizona the arches are a shade of turquoise, to blend with the blue sky and desert surroundings.

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Minsk, Belarus, January 8, 2018: Man is eating at McDonald's restaurant. ; Shutterstock ID 790873426
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“I’m Lovin’ It” isn’t as old as you think

The “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign was the first global ad campaign from McDonald’s, launching in September 2003 out of Munich, Germany as “Ich Liebe Es,” and has now appeared in over 120 countries in 20 languages. The first TV commercials in the United States feature Justin Timberlake singing the iconic “ba-da-ba-ba-bah” jingle, for which he was paid approximately $6 million.

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BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA - CIRCA MAY, 2017: worker at McDonald's. McDonald's is an American hamburger and fast food restaurant chain.; Shutterstock ID 692595700; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of Home
Sorbis/Shutterstock

There are international menu offerings

International McDonald’s locations typically have menus that stray from the usual quarter-pounder. Germany locations offer a nurnburger, three bratwursts on a bun. And in India, you can try a McAloo Tikki burger, which is a spiced-potato burger. There are even regional options in the United States, like a McLobster Roll in New England.

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Nonthaburi, Bang Yai 29, there is a 2017 logo McDonald's. On the sky background Famous in Thailand; Shutterstock ID 773094754; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of Home
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Hamburger University exists

There are now seven Hamburger University campuses worldwide, with the first opening in 1961. Providing education and training to company-owned restaurant employees, franchisees and eligible employees, attendees are taught leadership and management skills, with college credit even available to students for their taken courses.

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Gdansk, Poland - November 4, 2017: McDonald Filet-O-Fish in a McDonald's restaurant.; Shutterstock ID 754611985
Robson90/Shutterstock

Why a Filet-O-Fish?

Lou Groen, a franchise owner in Monfort Heights, Ohio, a predominantly Catholic area, noticed that he was not selling as many hamburgers and cheeseburgers during Lent. So in 1962 the Filet-O-Fish graced the menu. The rest is history.

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McDonald's Second Quarter Sales Up 57 Percent From Previous Year
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McDonald’s has a secret menu

Can you keep a secret? McDonald’s secret menu options include triple decker burgers like the Land, Air & Sea. But there’s also fun treats like the Apple Pie McFlurry or even a McAffogato. There’s something for everyone, even a grilled cheese for vegetarians.

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McDonalds To Offer Its Breakfast Menu All Day Long
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The best-selling menu item is…

The fries! Are you surprised? The Big Mac is the number two best-selling menu item while the Egg McMuffin falls at number five. There’s just something about McDonald’s fries where you can’t leave without them.

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McDonald's At Made In America Festival In Philadelphia
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The fries have a secret ingredient

Did you know McDonald’s fries aren’t vegan or vegetarian? Initially, McDonald’s fries were fried in beef tallow while other restaurants used vegetable oil. But now to ensure the great-tasting and recognizable flavor we all love, McDonald’s uses a canola oil blend that contains beef flavoring.

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McDonald's At Made In America Festival In Philadelphia
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McDonald’s fries have 19 ingredients

Technically, they only have 14; some ingredients are repeated throughout different stages of the fries-making process. Ingredients include potatoes (of course), canola oil, soybean oil, hydrolyzed milk and citric acid.

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McDonalds To Offer Its Breakfast Menu All Day Long
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All-day breakfast isn’t coming back

In 2015, McDonald’s extended its breakfast hours instead of cutting the morning foods off at 10:30 a.m. But behind the scenes, all-day breakfast was causing breakfast orders to clog up the kitchen workflow. This slowed down the line and made work harder for employees. Getting rid of all-day breakfast was meant to be a temporary fix when COVID struck, however it has yet to return.

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Mcdonalds Soda Fountain
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You can buy ice

McDonald’s offers cubed ice for just $0.99-$1.50 per bag. What a steal! You can either go into the restaurant and order the ice at the register, or you can get it from the comfort of your car in the drive-thru.

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Mcdonalds Chicken Mcnuggets
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McNuggets only come in four shapes

The four shapes are boot, bell, bone and ball. Boot is shaped like a, well, boot. It’s easily the most distinguishable of the nugget shapes. The bell has more of a diamond shape while the bone more resembles a tombstone with a rounded top and bottom. Finally, the ball is the lumpy circle of the bunch. Which is your favorite to dip?

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Hands holding a wallet with a small amount of US dollars, close up
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Bring cash

Craving McDonald’s at 2 a.m.? Make sure you have cash on hand. Because the 24-hour locations restart their cash register systems every night, there is always a certain time period when they can only accept cash.

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A tray with Big Mac, french fries and Coca-Cola is seen on a table in this illustration photo taken in McDonald's restaurant in Krakow, Poland
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The Big Mac was created for steel workers

The mastermind behind the Big Mac was Jim Delligatti. In the 1960s, many of his regular customers were workers returning from a long day at the steel mills. They would arrive at McDonald’s ready to eat, and Delligatti realized that the simple single-patty cheeseburger wasn’t filling them up. So he started experimenting, and soon came up with the first draft of the Big Mac.

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McDonald's meal
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There’s a Big Mac museum

In North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, Big Mac enthusiasts can visit the world’s only Big Mac Museum. Jim Delligatti, the Big Mac’s original creator, and his son Mike developed the museum in 2007. It features attractions like a 14-foot Big Mac statue and historical memorabilia like a bun-toaster from the 1970s.

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McDonald's
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Tyson created a custom chicken breed for McNuggets

McDonald’s enlisted Tyson Foods to supply chicken for the very first McDonald’s chicken nuggets. Tyson actually made a custom breed of larger-breasted chicken known as the “Mr. McDonald” for the job.

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The Snack Wrap may never come back

The McDonald’s Snack Wrap was either crispy or grilled white meat chicken breast, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, lettuce and your choice of sauce (ranch, honey mustard or salsa), wrapped in a soft tortilla. Because of how different the menu item was, kitchen production was slowed down due to the abnormal prep (like steaming tortillas). They soon had no choice but to discontinue the fan-favorite.

Alyssa Asaro
Alyssa has been with Taste of Home for just over a year, but has been in food and lifestyle publishing since 2018. As an associate editor, she writes and edits recipe collections and runs several newsletters, including Top 10, Slow Cooker & Casseroles, Quick Dinners and Balanced Plate. When she's not planning her next trip overseas, you can find Alyssa trying out new Chicago restaurants or watching a movie.