|Quotes • Headscratchers • Playing With • Useful Notes • Analysis • Image Links • Haiku • Laconic|
"Billions and billions served."
Did somebody say Nyami?
That's probably how you got to this page -- it's probably the most common "not-a-wiki-word" that appears on the TV Tropes Wiki, since their wiki parser automatically converts CamelCase into article links -- and All The Tropes faithfully carried over all those links when we converted the tropebase to MediaWiki.
But since McDonald's is such a big part of modern culture, we may as well make the visit worth your while. (Would you like fries with that?)
It all started in 1954 when Ray Kroc, a milkshake mixer salesmen, found out that one of his customers brought many more mixers then usual for a business. He traveled to San Bernardino, California, to find that two brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald, ran their diner at an amazing rate, serving way more customers then a usual restaurant should. He pitched them the idea of creating McDonald's restaurants all over the U.S. The McDonald's corporation was founded the next year. By 1958, McDonald's had sold 100 million hamburgers. By 1960, Kroc bought exclusive rights to the McDonald's name.
Since then, McDonald's has added more than the original burgers, fries and sodas to its menu. Breakfast items are sold from opening until 10 A.M. (11 A.M on Sundays), unlike most independent restaurants in their price range who'll serve their breakfast menu all day if they have one. The Filet-O-Fish was created to cater to the Catholic communities that ate no meat on Fridays during Lent (fish doesn't count). The Happy Meal and corporate Mascot Ronald McDonald were created to appeal to children. McCafé items (after the café section offered in a few countries) were recently added to compete with Starbucks and other coffee vendors.
The original San Bernardino restaurant has since been re-designed into a museum dedicated to the company. The oldest McDonald's still in operation is the 4th location in Downey, California, which sports an image of Speedee the Hamburger-Head Mascot and a sign proudly proclaiming that the chain has sold 500 million hamburgers.
The quality and nutritional value of the food served is debatable - if nothing else, it sets the floor that everyone else has to do better than to be in the restaurant business - but no one can deny that the ubiquity of this fast food restaurant (over 30,000 in 119 countries) has a significant impact on human culture.
Until the mid-2000s, McDonald's also owned Donatos Pizza, Boston Market (a "fast casual" chain specializing in rotisserie chicken) and Chipotle Mexican Grill.
- Animated Adaptation: The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald
- There is also the obscure shorts, Ronald and the Adventure Machine along with The Adventures of Ronald McDonald: McTreasure Island from the 80's.
- Live Action Adaptation: The McKids Adventures videos. Ronald's segments in McDonald's Family Theater could arguably qualify.
- Art Shift: McDonald's Family Theater has the live-action McDonaldland gang introduce the 2D animated story.
- In The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald, Ronald and his dog, Sundae are seen in live action when at home but are cartoons when outside.
- Burger Fool: But of course.
- McDonald's is the Trope Codifier. In fact, Fast Food Nation accuses them of trying to make their jobs so simple that a new person could be trained in 15 minutes, making everyone wholly expendable.
- Needless to say, the company is not exactly a fan of the "McJob" slang for a fast food job that a traind chimp could do. In the UK (where the term is particularity popular) their recruiting department even ran an advertising campaign with the tagline "Not bad for a McJob" in an attempt to neutralize the negative image associated with working at McDonald's has. It didn't work.
- Captain Ersatz: MaDonal in Northern Iraq, as well as Matbax.
- Ronald McDonald himself. In the Washington DC area Bozo the Clown made appearances at local McDonald's bringing in massive crowds. When the show was cancelled, actor Willard Scott (yes, the weatherman) created a new costume and name while keeping the Bozo act.
- The other McDonaldland characters were blatantly ripped off from H.R. Pufnstuf after Sid and Marty Krofft Productions refused to license the original characters. The company sued and McDonald's ended up paying a large settlement.
- Catch Phrase:
- The Hamburglar's was "Robble Robble!".
- "RAN RAN RUU!" for Ronald in Japan.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The McDonaldland characters outside of Ronald haven't been seen in years. Even Ronald himself hasn't been seen in commercials lately.
- Mayor McCheese has almost disappeared entirely after lawsuits from the owners of H.R. Pufnstuf.
- Dub Name Change: In Japan Ronald McDonald is called Donald McDonald, in deference to the lack of a clear "r" sound in Japanese.
- It’s quite interesting to note that the first English teacher in Japan was an American named Ranald McDonald.
- Dumb Is Good: The Grimace. Though he wasn't exactly a genius when he was evil either.
- Face Heel Turn (Or Heel Face Turn depending on your opinion): Canada's first Ronald McDonald, Geoffrey Giuliano, became a vegetarian activist and submitted testimony against the company during the McLibel case.
- Feather Fingers: Birdie.
- Flawed Prototype: Before releasing the Filet-O-Fish, the company test-marketed the "Hulaburger" - basically a hamburger with a slice of pineapple in place of the meat.
- Several concepts have attempted to compete with Burger King's Whopper:
- The McDLT (1984), which came in a box that had the hot burger patty on one side and the toppings on the other (the idea being that the toppings would stay cool and fresh while the burger itself was hot). A chicken variation was also available. It was retired due to concerns over its styrofoam packaging.
- The McLean Deluxe (1991), a low-fat burger which replaced most of the fat with carrageenan but otherwise identical to the McDLT. Quietly dropped in 1996.
- Their "adult" menu (1996) included the Arch Deluxe (a "premium" burger with higher-quality toppings), a grilled chicken sandwich, a fried chicken sandwich (replacing the McChicken) and a larger fish sandwich. This whole line was intentionally targeted at adults, with ads featuring children repulsed over the food. While this burger line was one of the biggest flops in fast food history, the Filet o' Fish permanently adopted the larger size; the grilled and fried chicken sandwiches were simply renamed; and the McChicken came back. Some of the "adult" menu concepts were Re Tooled into the Big N' Tasty (2000-2011), which was also nearly identical to the McDLT, and the Angus line of burgers introduced in 2006.
- Another concept that never took off was pizza, which was tried in only a few markets in the late 80s-early 90s.
- Despite CEO Ray Kroc insisting that McDonald's never sell hot dogs (he viewed them as unhygenic), some McDonald's stores nevertheless have sold hot dogs in the past. One summer during the 2000s, for instance, they briefly sold half-smokes as part of a summer-themed line of foods; they were dropped not long after.
- They have also tried concept restaurants to varying degrees of success. Among these were:
- McDonald's Express (small locations with limited menus, often found in convenience stores, airports, malls, and Walmart stores). A few are still around.
- Various takes on drive-thru-only locations, including some built in a Retraux 1950s style. Likewise, a few still exist.
- Five "Mini Mac" locations with drive-thru and walk-up windows akin to Rally's/Checkers. Surprisingly for such a failed concept, two (West Los Angeles, California and Bay City, Michigan) are still open.
- McDiner, which was obviously a diner-style restaurant. These existed in Indiana and Kentucky from 2001 to 2004, when they were converted to standard McDonald's restaurants.
- Several concepts have attempted to compete with Burger King's Whopper:
- Follow the Leader: If McDonald's has done it (fish sandwich, chicken nuggets, play places, Happy Meals, salads, Angus burgers), chances are that many fast food chains have copied.
- Going the other way, the Big Mac is a clone of Big Boy's "Big Boy" burger (two patties, extra bun in the middle, secret sauce).
- Food Porn: McDonald's certainly pushes it hard in the commercials.
- Fun fact: When you see the burgers on TV, the pickles stick out the side so the viewer can see them. If you're actually working at McDonald's, the pickle goes in the center of the burger so that it can get bitten into from any direction.
- Goggles Do Nothing: Birdie is rarely, if ever, seen with her aviator goggles over her eyes.
- Iconic Logo: In fact, the Golden Arches are included in that Trope's image.
- Let's Meet the Meat: Played straight in many ads. Subverted by the singing fish, who isn't very happy about being made into a sandwich and the rest of his remains mounted on a wall.
- Limited Wardrobe: Ronald McDonald and the rest of the McDonaldland characters almost always wear the same outfits.
- Lint Value: This Dollar Menu commercial.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Evil Grimace before he was retconned into the lovable two-armed good guy we know now.
- Ms. Fanservice: Japan also has a female mascot, who has bright red hair and wears basically a dress version of Ronald's outfit. Head-Tiltingly Kinky to some...
- Non-Ironic Clown: The lovable Ronald McDonald.
- Out of Focus: All of the mascots save for Ronald McDonald. Though even he is starting to appear less and less.
- Retraux: Many restaurants in the 1980s and 1990s were built in a faux-fifties style. Some of them were even built to have only drive-thru and walk-up service, like the earliest ones.
- Too Smart for Strangers: The second commercial seemed to be trying for this, but instead, it just comes off as incredibly creepy.
Boy: My mother told me never to talk to strangers.
Ronald: Well your mother's right as always, but, I'm Ronald McDonald! Here, give me a McDonald's shake!
- Repurposed Pop Song:
- The '60s Lovin' Spoonful hit "Do You Believe in Magic?" was used in a few commercials featuring Ronald.
- Donna Summer's "She Works Hard For the Money" was remade into "She gets more for her money, 'Cause McDonald's treats her right."
- Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" was rewritten as "Mac Tonight" to advertise that McDonald's was staying open at later hours.
- A campaign which was accompanied by this animated mascot.
- (Buh-duh bah-bah-bah!) "I'm Lovin' It" (the current slogan) was originally a Justin Timberlake song.
- Trademark Favorite Food:
- The Hamburglar has McDonald's burgers.
- The Grimace has McDonald's shakes.
- The Fry-guys. Guess what theirs is.
- What Could Have Been: Many attempts to introduce new McMenu items via "pilot programs" in test markets failed to catch on. If these items had caught on, McDonald's might be a different place today.
- As mentioned in the Flawed Prototype entry above, one of these failed attempts involved McBEMANI.
- In the late 1970s, they attempted to draw in an adult demographic by instituting "The Big Mac Supper Club" -- after 5 PM, they put checkered tablecloths over the plastic tables, dimmed the lights in the dining area somewhat, and played jazz music. When this attempt failed, they tried the same thing again some years later with their "Mac Tonight" campaign. When that failed, they tried introducing the Arch Deluxe, which was advertised as being revolting to young children (!). To this day, they've never succeeded in attracting the "sophisticated adult dining" audience.
- The Angus Third Pounder line, introduced in 2009, and the Premium Chicken Sandwich line, introduced in 2006, have a more focused marketing campaign and are more subdued on the whole of their menu. These seem to be working out.
Pop culture references to McDonald's:
- The Simpsons: Lots with respect to Krusty Burger, the "premiere"(?) fast-food chain in Springfield. It all starts with the restaurant's proprieter-founder, Krusty the Klown.
- Episodes featuring specific references to McDonald's -- both at Krusty Burger and elsewhere:
- "Lisa's First Word": The 1993 episode features the Simpson family flashing back to 1983-1984. With pop culture references abounding (including one for rival chain Wendy's), the major one relating to McDonald's is a spoof of the chain's "scratch-and-win" promotion for the 1984 Olympics, where customers could win a Big Mac, french fries, a soft drink, or even a cash prize of up to $10,000 if Team USA won a medal in the visitor's listed event. Krusty Burger customers could also win food prizes or cash, but (like McDonald's in Real Life), the promotion was created and the tickets printed before the Soviet Union announced it was backing out of the Summer Games. Many of the tickets were printed to reflect events in which the USSR or another Eastern Bloc country was favored to win; with their withdrawal, the United States won many of those events, causing Krusty Burger to lose millions of dollars because they awarded more food than they had budgeted for.
- "22 Short Films About Springfield": Chief Wiggum and Springfield's "finest" are discussing the merits of Krusty Burger vs. McDonald's, much like the "Royale with Cheese" scene in Pulp Fiction. The other Springfield officers have never heard of McDonald's, though it's stated to have thousands of locations around the world.
- "Missionary: Impossible": Mr. Burns yells at Bart -- thinking him to be Homer -- for "taking the Hamburglar's birthday off as a holiday" in one scene. (Bart had taken Homer's place at the plant when his father went on a last-minute mission trip ... to avoid persecution by angry PBS celebrities for making a hasty pledge to get their fundraising campaign off his TV, thinking they wouldn't be able to track him down and actually make him pay it.)
- "I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can": Krusty Burger has a national "Ribwich Tour" to taste-test the Ribwich sandwich (a pork ribette sandwich similar to the McRib) in different markets. The "Ribwich Tour" drew its inspiration from the same campaign put on by McDonald's, and when Krusty Burger pulled the Ribwich from its menu, it caused the same kind of uproar.
- "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer": It is revealed that Krusty pays local mob boss Fat Tony to keep rival Mc Donald's restaurants out of Springfield.
- Episodes featuring specific references to McDonald's -- both at Krusty Burger and elsewhere:
- In Pulp Fiction, Jules and Vincent discuss what a Quarter Pounder with cheese is called in France. It's apparently called a "Royale with Cheese" and a Big Mac is called "Le Big Mac". 
- The Onion did a spoof article stating that a new mascot called the Hammurderer had been pulled from the McDonaldland cast.
"Stabble stabble stabble!"
- In Coming to America, Akeem finds work at a fast food restaurant called McDowell's. Since McDonald's actually exists in the film's universe, the similarity is heavily Lampshaded.
- In Beavis and Butthead, the boys work at Burger World. The establishment's logo is an upside down version of the Golden Arches, a common way to parody the franchise.
- The restaurant itself meanwhile is a parody of Whataburger, a regional chain with locations in Mike Judge's native Texas.
- "Weenie Burgers" in Tiny Toon Adventures and countless Anime productions.
- "WacArnold's" on a skit from Chappelle's Show.
- "McWuncler's" in The Boondocks.
- Super Size Me is a documentary where director Morgan Spurlock spends thirty days eating exclusively at McDonald's to demonstrate the effects of fast food on American diet, interspersed with segments from fans and critics of the company.
- One of the kids in Space Camp talks about building a McDonald's on the moon in case an astronaut gets a "Big Mac Attack". Same kid later mentions a guy he knew who could hold his breath for a long time by thinking about eating french fries.
- The 1988 film Mac and Me is an ET the Extraterrestrial-like movie that features lots of Product Placement for McDonald's. In fact, one big scene takes place in one during a birthday party!
- Guest starring Ronald McDonald As Himself.
- Mark Knopfler's song "Boom, Like That", is all about Ray Kroc's turning McDonald's into a franchise, and his less than nice techniques. (After he bought them out, the original McDonald brothers started a new restaurant. Kroc put a McDonald's across the street and ran them out of business.)
The competition, send them south; they're gonna drown, put a hose in their mouth.
- An odd reference in Scotland, PA, a Black Comedy Setting Update of Macbeth in a rural fast-food restaurant in the 70's. After Joe and Pat murder Duncan and take over his restaurant, they rename it after themselves: McBeth's. They even use a giant letter M as their logo.
- Mooby's of the View Askewniverse is an obvious parody. Clerks II is set almost entirely inside one.
- In one of his songs, Doctor Steel sings that he has a "Ronald McRaygun".
- "MacMeaties" from Invader Zim.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja begins with the "McBonald's" fast food restaurant chain.