What is also astounding is the company started with a single hamburger stand owned and operated by Dick and Mac McDonald in San Bernardino, California. The brothers opened their establishment in 1940, and it was “revolutionary” (Kroc’s words) in its time as the food was prepared in an efficient assembly line manner. In addition, there wasn‘t an interior dining area or wait staff – orders were taken and customers received their food at the front counter. "Orders ready in thirty seconds, not thirty minutes," Dick says proudly in the movie.
When the film begins in 1954, Kroc is a traveling milkshake blender salesman who happens across the restaurant. He immediately sees the franchise potential, and he persuades Dick and Mac to enter into an business agreement to franchise McDonald's restaurants. The brothers sold the McDonald’s Company to Kroc in 1961, and there were already 500 locations in the U.S. by 1963.
From a marketing standpoint, I was struck by a few items in the film that have played a pivotal role in the chain’s success:
impede his progress. “That glorious name, McDonald’s – I had to have it,” Kroc confesses. Kroc said the name had a very American sound to it and people could pour their aspirations into it. In comparison, he said “Kroc” wouldn’t have worked nearly as well. It was, by his own admission, too harsh and blunt.
jukeboxes, and drive-in service, and this drew teens prone to loitering and littering. By removing these elements, as well as focusing their menu on simple "all-American" food like burgers, fries and milkshakes, they were able to attract parents and their children. One of the most memorable scenes has Kroc laying out his vision. “McDonald’s can be the new American church!” he declares. “There should be (one) everywhere - coast to coast, sea to shining sea.”
In closing, "The Founder" is an intriguing slice of American history and culture. I was enthralled to watch someone build on the concepts of others and, in doing so, fundamentally change the dining experience both in the U.S. and abroad. There was a McDonald's near my childhood home in suburban Detroit, and I went there fairly often when I was young. So, while I already had a certain attachment to the restaurant chain, the company's legacy truly resonates now that I know the larger story.
I'm Eli Natinsky and I'm a communication professional. This blog explores my work and professional interests. I also delve into other topics, including media, marketing, pop culture, and technology.