In Missing Boy. Spencer talks about the first McDonald’s, in Des Plaines, IL. He relates an incident that happened to him when he was a kid – and did actually happen to me. The history of the McDonald’s brothers is unknown to most people ordering a Big Mac.
In the grips of the Great Depression, Richard and Maurice left New Hampshire and headed to California with dreams of becoming millionaires as Hollywood producers. Having no success, they opened a drive-in restaurant, McDonald’s BBQ, in San Bernardino in 1940, just a few blocks from Route 66. The featured item was slow-cooked BBQ with fries for 35 cents. They expanded to a rather eclectic menu that included hamburgers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Female carhops served food and the business took off with sales soon hitting $200,000 a year. The brothers soon realized that, though they were pushing BBQ, their biggest sales item was burgers.
Deciding to streamline, they fired the carhops, switched to plastic utensils and cups so they didn’t need a dishwasher, and changed the menu to just burgers, with drinks and potato chips and pie. Copying Henry Ford’s assembly line, they developed the “Speedee Service System.” Each employee had a task, and customers were not given choices. Burgers, with a lowered price of 15 cents, came with ketchup, mustard, onions, and two pickles. Anyone who wanted something different would have to wait. [Read more…]