You know that McDonald’s is kind of evil, because there are more column inches and pseudo-scientific documentaries dedicated to that fact than there are as to whether or not jet fuel can burn hot enough to melt steel. But we felt that there was just a little more life left in this idea thanks to some lesser known facts about America’s “favorite” burger company.
10. They Ran the Original Owners Out of Business Just to Spite Them
Though today McDonald’s is known for being a ridiculously powerful global company with more outlets than the Nikola Tesla museum, it didn’t start out that way. The original owners, the McDonald brothers, were so adverse to the idea of franchising their restaurants that in 1961 their investor, business partner and personal friend of Satan, Raymond Kroc, raised 2.7 million dollars to buy them out.
In this incredibly favorable deal, Kroc not only bought exclusive franchising rights for the brand, but the rights to the McDonald’s name as well. The only thing the McDonald brothers got in return, other than over a million bucks each, was sole ownership of their first restaurant, which they renamed Big M. But this didn’t sit right with Kroc, who hated the idea that the McDonald brothers were still out there doing something that made them happy. So as soon as the ink had dried on their deal, he opened a brand new McDonald’s restaurant across the road from Big M just to run it out of business.
So, two of the men who started McDonald’s had the last remaining shred of their company run out of business… by McDonald’s. You see, McDonald’s? Its stuff like this that makes people assume your entire board of directors is dressed like M. Bison from Street Fighter.
9. Their Food Doesn’t Rot, Spoil or Go Bad
It’s a commonly stated fact that McDonald’s food just doesn’t go bad, and there are numerous examples of McDonald’s burgers old enough to remember the first season of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air still looking perfectly palatable. As if that wasn’t worrying enough, when McDonald’s food is left out in the open, even bugs and flies won’t attempt to eat it. It says a lot when creatures known mostly for converging around piles of horse excrement won’t touch your food.
McDonald’s has always maintained that the reason their burgers enjoy Ric Flair levels of longevity is because there’s very little moisture in them. While this is accurate, McDonald’s leavse out the reason their food contains so little moisture. Luckily, actual scientists not wearing golden arches on their labcoats have a simple answer. McDonald’s food is laden with so much fat, sugar and salt that they’re effectively immune to the effects of spoilage under normal circumstances. Meaning that under the right conditions, McDonald’s food could outlive anyone reading this and still be edible.
8. Their Fries Contain 14 Ingredients
Partly in response to stories about what we just covered, McDonald’s has made a push to convince the public that its food isn’t as bad as we all believe it is. In other words, McDonald’s would really like it if you ignored all those stories about people in its factories handling raw meat that’s been dropped on the floor without gloves.
As part of this push, McDonald’s paid Mythubusters alumni Grant Imahara the exact amount of money it takes to buy someone’s dignity to stand in front of a camera and say that McDonald’s make “real” food. But it didn’t take long for critics to note that even in what basically amounted to McDonald’s propaganda, the company still came out looking bad when they revealed that their fries contain more chemicals than the Breaking Bad opening credits. This was made worse when it was revealed that only McDonald’s fries in the United States contain this cocktail of preservatives and incredibly metal sounding ingredients, while fries being sold in the United Kingdom only contain potato, oil, salt and sugar. So if you didn’t already feel bad enough when eating McDonald’s food, now you have to live with the knowledge that some English guy is probably eating better McDonald’s at the same time.
7. McDonald’s Salad is Worse for You Than a Big Mac
It’s often said that no good story starts with someone eating a salad. And that’s true… unless you want to tell someone an amusing story about how you got super-diabetes by eating McDonald’s salad.
We’re not saying that salad is unhealthy, but the crap that McDonald’s piles onto its salads like dressing and fried chicken makes them so unhealthy that in some situations you’d be better off ordering a Big Mac. A McDonald’s Southwest Crispy Chicken Salad contains more fat and calories than a bacon double cheeseburger and fries.
In other words, thanks to McDonald’s there are people out there on diets who are better off ordering a burger coated in cheese, bacon and an entire second burger than a salad. Which is probably something we should be a little grateful for, because no other restaurant gives people on a diet that option.
6. They Fought One of the Longest Legal Cases in History
Given that McDonald’s is a terrifyingly huge and powerful company with enough money to bury any naysayers in enough legal litigation to ensure that their grandchildren are born holding court documents, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that McDonald’s was involved in one of the longest cases in English history. What may surprise you is that not only did McDonald’s lose this 10 year legal battle, but that they lost against two people. Not two companies or two lawyers representing multiple people, but two ordinary citizens who didn’t want to let a big corporation walk all over them.
The story started in 1986, when five campaigners in London began distributing pamphlets outside a London McDonald’s accusing them of destroying rain forests, targeting children with their ads and exploiting its workers. You know, standard evil corporation stuff. When McDonald’s got wind of this, they immediately slapped the group with a libel charge. Three members of the group were so afraid of facing McDonald’s in court that they immediately apologized, but Helen Steel and David Morris stuck to their guns and told the billion-dollar company to bring it.
In the ensuing legal case, in which Steel and Morris were forced to represent themselves, McDonald’s spent millions of dollars trying to force the pair to back down, and after a freaking decade in court, they scraped out a victory. Due to how bad spending millions of dollars suing two people made them look, McDonald’s refused to collect the 40,000 pounds awarded to them by the British government, which was good because Steel and Morris openly declared that they wouldn’t pay up. As if poking the dragon the first time wasn’t ballsy enough, Steel and Morris then took the case to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that it wasn’t fair that they weren’t allowed to seek legal aid while McDonald’s was free to hire an army of lawyers. The court agreed, ordering the British government to pay the pair several thousand pounds in damages for being biased towards McDonald’s.
So technically McDonald’s won the case, but they had to spend millions of dollars and a decade in court to do it. By comparison, Morris and Steel spent 30,000 pounds and ended up being awarded 57,000 pounds after appealing. Since Steel and Morris only set out to draw attention to how awful McDonald’s is, we’ll call that a win.
5. Avoiding Billions in Tax
Like any global corporation worth its heart palpation inducing salt, McDonald’s has used a multitude of loopholes to avoid paying taxes, all while denying that this is a crime or that they’re doing anything wrong at all. Amazingly, despite being accused of avoiding paying billions in tax several times over the last decade, McDonald’s has never once been found guilty. They’ve pretty much played dumb every time they’ve ever been accused of avoiding taxes, usually claiming that they’re an honest company who do pay in a timely manner. Which if true would be the most surprising item on this list.
4. Paying Rappers to Hype the Big Mac
For companies like McDonald’s a more media and tech savvy audience is a frightening thought, because that audience is slowly becoming immune to traditional advertising methods. As a result, companies are trying to force their way into people’s personal space in ever more obnoxious and cringe-worthy ways. Perhaps McDonald’s lowest moment was the time they tried paying a number of hip hop stars to namedrop the Big Mac in their songs, and every single one turned them down.
Under the terms of the deal, rappers stood to make around five dollars every time a song mentioning the Big Mac was played on the radio. Despite this being a potentially lucrative offer, no rapper was willing to take McDonald’s up on it. That becomes doubly sad when you realize that hip hop artists are the biggest sellouts in the music business, and yet not a single one was willing to admit they ate at McDonald’s for an easy couple million dollars.
3. They Haven’t Tracked Sold Burgers Since the ’90s
For years, one of the ways McDonald’s advertised its ever-growing success was the small signs that sat above their restaurants that proudly announced how many customers had been served worldwide. Over the years these signs went from one million, to a billion and eventually 99 freaking billion, at which point McDonald’s stopped keeping track because none of the signs they’d installed could count that high. As a result, all signs have simply read “billions and billions served” since 1994, because McDonald’s decided that would be easier than installing a brand new sign on every restaurant every couple of years. But maybe eventually they’ll hit the trillions mark, and we can get some ominous new signs.
2. The Fillet-O-Fish was Almost Replaced by an Awful Burger
It’s a fairly well-known fact that the Fillet-O-Fish was added to the McDonald’s menu to lure devout Roman Catholics, who traditionally don’t eat meat on Fridays, into a struggling McDonald’s located in a heavily Catholic suburb. After it proved popular enough to save that particular restaurant, McDonald’s made it a permanent menu fixture.
What’s less well known is that when the Fillet-O-Fish’s creator first pitched it to Raymond Kroc, he didn’t think it would sell and was already in the middle of introducing something called a Hula Burger, which was literally just a slice of pineapple on an uncooked bun. It was only because the Fillet-O-Fish’s creator suggested a friendly competition between the two burgers that the Fishwich was given a chance to prove that it kicked way more ass than a slice of sweaty pineapple on dry piece of bread.
1. Ronald McDonald Actors Weren’t Allowed to Tell Kids Where the Food Came From
Ronald McDonald has been relegated to a tertiary role in McDonald’s advertising ever since the company wised up to the fact that most people think clowns are creepy as hell. But a few decades ago, Ronald was one of the most recognizable and beloved food mascots on Earth. His appearance could cause 20,000 kids to descend on a restaurant for a chance to meet him.
Despite being the literal face of McDonald’s, actors playing Ronald couldn’t be seen eating McDonald’s food in case it smudged their make-up. Even worse, actors donning the red fuzzy wig weren’t allowed to tell children what McDonald’s food was made from, and were on strict orders to say that McDonald’s burgers and fries were grown whole and picked from a field if any child asked, rather than saying they were actually made of grimy cow flesh some Chinese guy scraped off the floor.
Just in case anyone reading this thinks we’ve been unfair by repeatedly calling McDonald’s an evil company, here’s a quote from Geoffrey Giuliano, one of the actors who played Ronald McDonald, to close this piece.
There’s no question that I was manipulating these children. I was a highly paid, highly trained, highly polished actor. Every show was a performance and I had a mandate to to get that message out there and yeah, it was not too hard – anybody can manipulate a child you know. I just went home one night, and I said “I cannot do this, I can’t live with myself if I continue to do this.