on March 4, 2013
Having eaten my fair share of McDonald's over the years, I soon naturally became curious about the company's origins and how it went from a simple curiosity of two brothers at a quaint hamburger stand to the unholy multinational corporate behemoth it is today.
Essentially these brothers sold their business to Ray Kroc, a hard nosed opportunistic businessman with a desire to make it a profitable venture. Kroc was not a visionary, but more an experimentalist. Along the way, other like minded people enter the business and they slowly grow it into a profitable machine whilst simultaneously alienating workers, unions, and customers in the process.
The book fervently explores these details and the characters involved come to life as a result. The writers rightly show both the good and bad sides of these people. Because this book was written in the 1970's, it gives the reader a deeper understanding of the fast food golden eras, and has more real dimension than any books written in the hipster laden 90's and 2000's ever could aspire to achieve. Books written after this golden age unconsciously pander to the insidious politically correct ideal-foolhardiness of their time, and unwittingly miss out in the subtleties of the 1950's, 60's and 70's mindsets. Other interesting side stories include Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken as a competitive force and the entrance of the Lotte Group - a Japanese-Korean company, whose Lotteria chain is the McDonald's equivalent in those aforementioned countries.
Reading the book cover to cover actually reveals where Wal-Mart obtained their entire modern business model from. They've copied McDonald's business tactics bit for bit but have overtaken them in the greater evils of executing these tactics. It's no coincidence that there's a McDonald's in every Wal-Mart. It's also plenty safe to say that Sam Walton and Donald and Richard McDonald are forever turning over in their graves even as you read this.
This book is a fascinating look into how the fast food industry slowly lost it's 1950's era innocence and became something analogous to a cancer that got out of control and remains that way - an uncontrollable disease even for the corporate entities that operate within it today.