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If you really want to understand Americana Icons see the movie "The Founder", the true story of Ray Kroc founder of McDonalds, without a doubt one of the most financial success stories in capitalism history.


McDonalds like Kroc's personal story is one of magic and good but yet dark and evil.  The nutritional value of most McDonalds food, particularly its legacy menu is garbage.  Of course there is the debate about the pay of McDonalds workers.


First, a little history of Kroc. He was a 50 year old struggling near washed up functional alcoholic selling milk shake machines to then drive through restaurants.  His business was near bankrupt when he got a call from a single restaurant wanting eight of his machines.  He personally visited the restaurant in San Bernardino, CA named McDonalds, named after the two owner brothers by the same name.  The place was built upon factory production efficiency and a limited menu that facilitated an assembly line quick turnaround of food orders and to encouraged a "family atmosphere" by requiring customers to get out of their cars to order at a window and benches to then consume the food.  Paper plates were used to reduce labor costs.  Not to mention food that children found addicting albeit little nutritional value.  The original menu was solely hamburgers (15 cents), a small order of French fries (10 cents) and orange like cola (5 cents).


Upon seeing this unique restaurant in action Kroc immediately envisioned the opportunities for franchising.  However, the McDonald brothers had tried expansion only to find they couldn't control operations and quality from afar and instead settled on returning to their one very successful restaurant.  Kroc on the other hand believes that with the proper management franchising would be possible and financially rewarding.  He has a vision of a McDonalds in every US city.


Eventually the McDonald brothers agree to allow Kroc to expand the theme to more locations.  While Kroc sees the future of McDonalds nationally and eventually worldwide the McDonald brothers are less sanguine with very little appetite for wide expansion and huge profits.  Eventually the never ending infighting leads Kroc to find ways of severing the legal agreement with the McDonalds, not in the most honorable way.  The McDonald brothers do end up getting over $2 million (although Kroc reneges on a verbal promise to pay royalties of 1% of all sales) but are forced to abandon the McDonalds name. Kroc has the ability to see how "Americana" the McDonalds names would become.  Eventually a McDonalds in San Bernardino puts the original McDonalds out of business.


Ultimately this is a story of the American Dream and the dark side of capitalism.   Only in America 1950s could a failing alcoholic build one of the most successful global businesses of all times.  At the same time Kroc represented the evil side that often results from large conglomerates.  A fervor for sales and profits that forces people to engage in unsavory business practices.  Its truly a story of good and evil on many levels.  Watching the movie will bring that point home.


Kroc died in 1984.  Today Kroc would find little in common with the McDonalds of today compared to the McDonalds of years gone by, even when he was still alive.  McDonalds only began to experiment with breakfast in the late 1970s and expanding its menu to multiple offerings.  Those of us old enough remember when there was no in store dining and the menu was still close to the original offerings from the 1950s. 


I walked away from the movie with mixed emotions.  A simple man with a wild imagination realizes success beyond his most glorious dreams.   At the same time, he does it in an unethical way and builds a business that has helped to build an obesity epidemic worldwide.  Back in the early 1980s he goes on public record to make the claim that McDonalds food is wholesome and good for your health.  Truly a con man on some level.


Skip Stein Added Jul 11, 2017 - 8:39am
Well said.  Truly this is a story of how capitalism can work but shouldn't.  McDonalds is built upon a dynasty of sickness and disease and as you mentioned the root of much of the obesity, diabetes 2, heart disease and cancer (and more) epidemic that has spread across America and, yes, the entire Planet by companies emulating the McDonalds method of selling cheap, unhealthy (one might say deadly) fare to unsuspecting customers.  The 'Fast Food' industry is supported by cheap sources by government subsidies that few recognize.  The grain and other subsidies to support meat/dairy agribusiness makes fast food cheap; but few realize that they are paying for it with their tax dollars and their devastated health.
This industrial disease model also created the processed/package 'food' industry.  Fast, cheap but unhealthy.  Again, subsidies support much of the supply chain of these 'foods' that work with fast food to make people sick and the medical industry rich beyond imagination.
The fast food industry found a companion/partner in the current medical industry.  Fast food makes people sick, pharmaceuticals, surgeons and pill pushing doctors treat people do death. They ALL make Billion$ while the customers suffer and die.
I do NOT believe these industries should be 'regulated' like some idiot politicians trying to legislate to 'protect' (enslave) Americans. No, it is only EDUCATION of the devastating consequences of doing business with these deadly industries that must be communicated.  Americans and others MUST realize that they are eating themselves to DEATH and it is a gruesome, ugly, painful demise.
The job done by the medical industry is truly amazing.  They have, like McDonalds, convinced people that eating crap is good but when you get sick there is a magic pill that will fix you.  Then there are the pills to fix the devastating side effects of the previous prescription.  When that fails, there is open heart surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and ultimately the mortuary.  This promotion of sickness/disease as 'NORMAL' is insane but has been sold to Americans and peoples around the planet who emulate the disgusting Standard American Deadly Diet.
Sickness is NOT NORMAL.  Stop doing business with these death merchants.  Re-set your lifestyle and focus on health & wellness as we were designed to be.  There truly IS a Better Way to Health!
Autumn Cote Added Jul 11, 2017 - 8:52am
Please note, it's against the rules to post more than one article within a 48-hour period.  Normally I would delete this article but because Skip Stein already wrote such a great comment I'm leaving it up.  As always, many thanks for your participation with Writer Beat.  
Autumn Cote Added Jul 11, 2017 - 9:10am
That sounded harsher than I intended.  Normally I would copy this article and email it back to you.  I would also request you post it again, because it is a good article.  The point I was trying to make is that I can't delete it now because if I did I would also delete Skip Stein's comment.  
George N Romey Added Jul 11, 2017 - 10:19am
Will keep that in mind Autumn.
Skip, as I said its a story of good and evil.  The good that a 52 year old nobody struggling in life builds one of the most global brands known to man.  Evil in the type of product that is delivered.
Jeff Jackson Added Jul 11, 2017 - 11:30am
I haven't seen the movie, but it sounds like everything I have read. McDs started a revolution in food that the rest of the world has gobbled up (pun intended). There are variants because of cultures, but McDs Levis, Coke, baseball, and a few other things represent America to the world. Bill Gates, by the way, bought the software for the mouse, because the inventors had no idea what it might be used for, and man were they screwed out of royalties. Even the best of pharmaceuticals have bad side effects. Kroc found a need and filled it. My marketing profs all said "find a need, and fill it." I hardly eat there myself but my family members love the food and I bring it to them. There have been many imitators, but there is only one McDs.
Phil's Personal Perspectives Added Jul 11, 2017 - 12:09pm
Haven't seen the movie but read about it previously.  I didn't know much about McD's ownership history before that.  The Kroc name I've seen over the years and assumed him to be the originator of the fast food chain.  Now we know the story and his story.  The Kroc name today is seen attached to various charitable/social organizations such as the Salvation Army.  These agencies can certainly use the help.  I don't know that the Kroc name on a building offers Ray any redemption.  His is probably a quest for immortality in concrete not seeking forgiveness.
Skip Stein Added Jul 11, 2017 - 4:58pm
Thanks Autumn, you flatter me!
Katharine Otto Added Jul 11, 2017 - 9:20pm
You put the information together just as I do.  I think of the Ronald McDonalds houses on hospital grounds, and the fact that hospital cafeterias are now fast food cesspools.  And the single-use packaging . . . I suspect they spend more on packaging than on the food.
George, I'm not sure about finding a need and filling it. I think more of creating an artificial market and destroying potential competition.  I have never understood the appeal of fast food.  It tastes like bland paste to me.
George N Romey Added Jul 12, 2017 - 7:35am
Katharine fast food is addicting to kids and that is where the market starts. Like a lot of financially successful business their impact on society is indeed evil.
Stone-Eater Added Jul 12, 2017 - 8:27am
Good one. Fortunately that crap hasn't arrived in French West Africa yet. People there don't want to poison their kids and they have realized that not everything coming out of the US is good.
Not to talk of the exploitation of the workers.
Stone-Eater Added Jul 12, 2017 - 8:30am
McDonalds in hospitals ??!!
Dino Manalis Added Jul 12, 2017 - 8:35am
There are many Americana icons, but the first on the list is Melania Trump herself!  Our First Lady!
Bill Kamps Added Jul 12, 2017 - 12:24pm
The story, like most things related to humans is not black and white.  Like many things, eating at McDonalds is not dangerous if done in moderation, just like drinking whiskey isnt dangerous if done in moderation.  Almost everything we eat or drink is not great if done to excess. 
There is a legitimate quandary here.  Chipotle started out serving only fresh  ingredients, cooked and put together in the local restaurant.  Of course once they started feeding millions of people a day, they discovered it is extremely difficult to do so, without making a few of them sick from the  handling of fresh food.  It takes only minor mistakes to contaminate fresh food, especially fresh meat.  When I say a few, I mean like one person in 10-20 million.  However, people and the media decided that one in 10-20 million is too many, and they clobbered the company.  As a result  Chipotle has had to rethink how  they handle their food, and  some of their food is now par cooked elsewhere, and frozen before sending to the store.  The irony here is that they have consulted with McDonalds about food handling, cooking at central kitchens, etc.  That is because these methods are safer, and easier to control on a mass scale.
My point. We trash McDonalds for the quality of their food, but what they given us is food that is generally safe from contaminants and disease.  That was not generally true in the 1950s. 
A diet of hamburgers and french fries, even if made from the best ingredients, is not really healthy. 
Stone-Eater Added Jul 12, 2017 - 1:58pm
We trash McDonalds for the quality of their food, but what they given us is food that is generally safe from contaminants and disease
When you eat that stuff you don't need vaccinations anymore. But a simple foreign bug will kill you LOL
Bill Kamps Added Jul 12, 2017 - 2:09pm
Im not a backer of McDonalds, I was just saying it isnt that  easy to cook and distribute fresh food as Chipotle found out.  To be  honest, I would take the one in ten million chance of getting sick at Chipotle, a person doesnt eat ten million  meals in a lifetime. I think people and the media went overboard trashing Chipotle, without understanding that serving fresh  food will always be more dangerous in the very short term,  than serving the McDonalds style of food.
With McDonalds you are trading short term risk of food poisoning for long term health. 
George N Romey Added Jul 12, 2017 - 2:37pm
Back in the 1950s health care professionals did not understand the risk of fast food. Hell, some doctors thought smoking was good for the throat and cigarette ads on tv said as much.  However I remember as a kid from the late 70s Kroc being interviewed by Johnny Carson about the nutritional value of McDonalds food and Kroc claiming it was wholesome family dinning.  As the movie clearly showed Kroc was a huckster. 
Stone-Eater Added Jul 12, 2017 - 4:47pm
Tell you what:
During my last stay in Senegal for a month in April I gained 8 pounds. I never succeeded to put on weight in Europe like that, now I'm back at my 120 pounds at 1m 75 as I was since I was 18.
But I guess it was the easy African lifestyle and the natural food I took in ;-)
I'll make 140 next year I'm sure LOL
Patrick Writes Added Jul 12, 2017 - 4:54pm
It's a paradox. Most middle class people eat at McDonald's occasionally, thus engage in responsible behavior. 

But the poor, they often don't have time, energy, or the money to buy fresh vegetables and whip themselves a gourmet dinner at home. What's cheaper and easier than all those ingredients, having pots and pans, a working stove, and a pile of dishes when it's all done.... McDonald's. 
Thus, fast food does become a staple to pockets of people out there (ignorant, lazy, and/or poor). So it does have a detrimental effect. 

But what's the alternative, the government outlawing any food it deems unhealthy? 
Patrick Writes Added Jul 12, 2017 - 4:57pm
Soda is horribly bad for you as well (unless you're thin, exercise regularly, and have no health problems--then having one on occasion is okay). 

But to the overweight, sedentary, aging person with health problems (that probably include oncoming diabetes), don't touch the stuff. It's really bad for you. 
mark henry smith Added Jul 12, 2017 - 5:02pm
George, well said.
The industrialization of the food supply chain has led to industrial food and a PR system meant to placate the public as the risks of consuming vast quantities of fat, sugar, salt. Let's not forget that the studies done on heart disease in the 60's found sugar to be the main culprit, but the data was skewed to redirect the finger at saturated fat. Then the finger was moved to poly-saturated fat.
See, fat isn't a product, it's a naturally occurring thing, so if you say, cut bad fat out of your diet, you're basically saying it's not a product problem, but a consumer problem. But if you say sugar is bad, then you have a product relations issue, with some of the biggest companies of the time, like Coke, Pepsi, Dunkin Donuts.
And then, those clever dogs, come up with new kinds of sugar that are even worse for health and start getting them into everything. That's high-fructose corn syrup, and the artificial sugars like aspertame and the like.
I know they portrayed Kroc as some evil monster, but if that's the case we have to indict Coke, the first addictive food product recommended for children. And what they know about children is that if you can addict them to something early, you've got them for life, even if it's a short life. And perhaps the whole point of fast food was an attempt to kill off the least healthy in our population, and make money doing it. Isn't that the American way?   
George N Romey Added Jul 12, 2017 - 5:52pm
First I don't think Kroc was a genius.  Like a lot of very successful business people he lucked out at the right place at the right time. In this case it was the original McDonalds restaurant (owned by the McDonald brothers) that called for a product he was selling door to door restaurant.   In Kroc's case he saw an opportunity and ran with it, again not always in the most kind manner.
Second, many junk food providers got their start when the long term health effects of their offerings were not well known or understood. During WW2 when the GIs drank Cokes nothing was said of the sugar content.  Also think of portion sizes.  The original 6 oz coke in a glass bottle compared to the now traditional 64 ounce big gulp or the small hamburger now some kind of monster burger.  Since this all translated into high demand and big profits the money was too good to pass up.
Third, these food companies do offer healthier fares, like the McDonalds salads or the PowerAide Zero (not the regular).  So its not like there are not alternatives but people have proven over history to be as big as gluttons as their lower level intelligence counterparts.  
Katharine Otto Added Jul 12, 2017 - 10:08pm
Patrick, Who can say what "most people" do?  So-called "soul food" is probably the most nutritious food we have in this country, made with low cost vegetables, beans, rice, potatoes, and a minimum of meat.  People in the South still cook that way.
On the other hand, it bugs me that people can buy Coke and other soft drinks with food stamps.  Bottled water, which has no nutritional value.  You can buy almost anything except deli items and pharmaceuticals with food stamps, so that can't be good for health.  Look at what people buy in the grocery store.  Heavy, heavy sugar loads.
I wonder if all these fast and processed foods starve people of micronutrients, so they eat more to satisfy cravings for nutrients they're not getting.
At least you can't buy McDonalds' with food stamps, not yet, anyway.
And George, you're right that it takes a long time to become aware of adverse effects, both with foods and with medications.  Also, there are so many other factors contributing to bad health that it's hard to tease out the most significant contributors.
Stone-Eater Added Jul 13, 2017 - 6:58am
Looks like Kroc was like Gates. Take someone's idea and get rich with it.
Bill Kamps Added Jul 14, 2017 - 7:21am
Patrick it is a myth that buying fresh food costs more than eating at a fast food place.  You can buy a whole chicken for the  cost of a combo meal.  Granted it takes more time, but a lot of people with time on their hands still eat at fast food places. 
People like french fries because fat tastes good, to most people at least. BTW the fries often have more calories than the burger does unless you are eating at Carl's Jr, which I dont even know how people eat that whole burger.
Tubularsock Added Jul 15, 2017 - 10:39pm
George, great post! It just goes to show you that an "old struggling near washed up functional alcoholic" is more a danger to society than anyone previously thought!
Tubularsock believes that McDonald's is the ultimate in "gateway drugs" and leads those that eat there to NEVER amount to anything.
Tubularsock has attempted to get the Big Mac listed as a Schedule 1 drug but all that has done was increased its popularity!
That is the great thing about capitalism, profit over people is the name of the game. Why change it now. And just think the only meat in a burger at McDonald's is the "meat-head" eating it!