‘They weren’t interested!’ How milkshake seller became secret to McDonald’s revolution

‘They weren’t interested!’ How milkshake seller became secret to McDonald’s revolution

Founded in 1940 by Richard and Maurice McDonald as a restaurant in San Bernardino, California, the brothers rebranded their business as a burger stand, later turning the company into a franchise. Though McDonald’s now has almost 38,000 stores across the globe and more than 150 items, it was originally opened as a self-service fast-food restaurant with a menu of nine items which still remain core today.By the Fifties, the company was making big money and started using a milkshake machine known as a ‘multimixer’ that the brothers bought from businessman Ray Kroc, allowing them to churn out multiple drinks at once.

But, YouTube documentary “Ray Kroc and McDonald’s History” revealed that when Mr Kroc went to visit his new main customer, he was shocked to discover they were not thinking of expanding.

The series said in 2010: “In 1939, Kroc saw value in a new device one of his customers had built, a five spindled milkshake machine called the ‘multimixer’.

“Kroc knew immediately that a machine capable of making five milkshakes at a time was a big improvement over the single spindled machines that most places were using.

“At 37, he left a successful career in the paper cup business and became the multimixers exclusive distributor.

Ray Krocs was instrumental to McDonald's success

Ray Krocs was instrumental to McDonald’s success (Image: GETTY)

The first McDonald's opened in the US

The first McDonald’s opened in the US (Image: GETTY)

“But, as Ray approached his 50th birthday, his business began to slow down, by the early Fifties, suburbs began blanketing the American landscape and the exodus from the cities was on.

“Ray was losing customers by the dozen, but one small restaurant in San Bernardino, California, kept ordering more machines, Kroc had to see for himself the type of place that needed to churn out up to 40 milkshakes at a time.”

The McDonald’s brothers made their debut into the industry in 1937 through a hot dog stand after noticing one on the corner of their street that appeared to be successful.

Three years later they moved to San Bernardino and opened a larger drive-in restaurant complete with carhops called McDonald’s and, like most over drive-ins, it was an immediate success.

For eight years, the brothers ran the most successful drive-in in town, but in the late Forties, they sensed a change in their customers and closed their successful business and set out to reinvent the restaurant business.

The series went on to reveal how the first fast-food restaurant was born.

READ MORE: McDonald’s drive-thru: Why menu was stripped to 9 items in ‘speedy service gamble’

Mr Kroc's milkshake machine was a revolution

Mr Kroc’s milkshake machine was a revolution (Image: GETTY)

It added: “What they created was a kitchen that operated with the efficiency of a Henry Ford assembly line, cutting their menu from 25 to just nine items – hamburgers, cheeseburgers, milkshakes, french fries and drinks.

“They sped up service by designing new equipment like bigger grills and condiment dispensers that allowed them to prepare each and every burger the very same way.

“They were pioneering the greatest revolution in American restaurant history – fast-food – and the McDonald’s brothers cut serving time down from 20 minutes to 30 seconds.”

The documentary went on to detail how the brothers quickly shot to success, leading Mr Kroc to visit himself in 1954.

It added: “The genius revealed itself at the cash registers, sales shot up 40 percent in three years and in 1952 their small hamburger stand made the cover of American restaurant magazine.

The McDonald's brothers were unsure about franchising

The McDonald’s brothers were unsure about franchising (Image: WIKI)

Ray Kroc would eventually take over the company

Ray Kroc would eventually take over the company (Image: GETTY)

“Over the next few years, people in the food industry came from all over the country to check out the operation, but one visitor had been preparing his whole life for such an opportunity – Ray Kroc.

“He calculated the financial rewards possible with hundreds of McDonald’s across the country, each of them equipped with eight multimixers, but when he discussed the idea with Dick and Mac, they told him they weren’t interested in doing it themselves.”

Ray was impressed by the simple efficiency of the operation, which rapidly catered to its customers by focusing on a simple menu of burgers, french fries and shakes.

Grasping the potential for a chain of restaurants, Mr Kroc offered to work as a franchising agent for a cut of the profits, but the brothers weren’t so sure.

Mr Kroc revealed in the documentary: “I said to them, why don’t you get somebody to do it? They said ‘well we don’t know anybody who would want to do it’.

“I said ‘how about me? And they asked if I wanted to bother with it.

McDonald's is now famous around the world

McDonald’s is now famous around the world (Image: GETTY)

Core items on its menu remain unchanged

McDonald’s is now famous around the world (Image: GETTY)

“I thought what a cosy way to sell multimixers.”

In 1955, Mr Kroc founded McDonald’s System, Inc, and opened its first new restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois.

By 1959, McDonald’s had opened its hundredth restaurant, but Mr Kroc still was not reaping significant profits. 

Following the advice of Harry J. Sonneborn, who later became McDonald’s first president, Mr Kroc set up a system in which the company purchased and leased land to new franchises. 

Mr Sonneborn also helped secure a loan that enabled Mr Kroc to purchase the company outright from the McDonald brothers in 1961.

Under Mr Kroc’s ownership, McDonald’s retained some of its original characters while incorporating new elements. 

He kept the assembly-line approach to burger preparation that the McDonald brothers pioneered in the Forties while taking care to streamline operations across every restaurant. 

Franchise owners, chosen for their ambition and drive, went through a training course at “Hamburger University” in Elk Grove, Illinois, and the model he engineered proved extremely profitable.

In 1977, Mr Kroc reassigned himself to the role of senior chairman, a position he held until he passed away at Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego, California, on January 14, 1984.

At that point, McDonald’s had 7,500 restaurants across nearly three dozen countries and was worth £6.32billion.

Published at Thu, 11 Jun 2020 08:05:00 +0000