When the topic of conversation turns to McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) you are sure to get a wide range of opinions. Yet no matter how you feel about the golden arches, these five things may take you by surprise.
1. McDonald's sells more than 75 hamburgers every second
In 1948, Dick and Mac McDonald founded McDonald's, using the 15 cent hamburger as the cornerstone of their nine item menu. 65 years and billions of customers later McDonald's still sells hamburgers, just not for 15 cents. To be exact, the company sells more than 75 hamburgers every second. This is roughly 4,500 burgers every minute, 270,000 every hour, 6.48 million every day, and 2.36 billion burgers every year.
2. McDonald's isn't the largest restaurant chain in the world, Subway is
If someone walked up to you on the street and asked you which restaurant chain has the most locations throughout the world, what would you say. If you were anything like me, you would say McDonald's without even thinking twice. However, you would be wrong.
With 40,695 locations in 102 countries, Subway holds the title of the largest restaurant chain in the world, trumping McDonald's 34,480 locations throughout 119 countries at 2012 year-end by a comfortable margin. Subway, which is privately owned, overtook McDonald's in the spring of 2011 as the largest restaurant chain in terms of location count.
Yet in terms of revenue, McDonald's is still king. In 2012, Subway raked in $18.1 billion in revenue, which pales in comparison to McDonald's $27.56 billion. Just to put McDonald's 2012 revenue into perspective, it was roughly six times the combined 2012 revenue of competitors Burger King and Wendy's.
3. Salads only make up 2%-3% of sales
Have you ever walked into a McDonald's with the intention of getting a salad? If you have, I congratulate you for your healthiness. For most of us, getting a salad at McDonald's just isn't a reality.
In May of this year CEO Don Thompson confirmed these suspicions, admitting that salads only account for 2%-3% of the company's U.S. restaurant sales. In recent years McDonald's has actively marketed salads in an attempt to alter consumers' prevailing view of McDonald's as an unhealthy fast food restaurant. Yet, as the 2%-3% figure shows, these efforts have not driven hordes of people to McDonald's to buy salads. Even now at 65 years after its founding McDonald's is still at heart a burger and fries restaurant.
4. McDonald's is the largest distributor of toys in the world
You read that right, McDonald's is the largest distributor of toys in the world, and by far. 20% of all sales at McDonald's include a toy, with one being passed out with each Happy Meal the company sells.
Yet, believe it or not, starting on Nov. 1 of this year McDonald's began passing out books with its Happy Meals instead of toys. This is just one in a long string of attempts by McDonald's to change the image of its Happy Meal, which has come under fire for playing a role in childhood obesity. The suffering for children will end on Nov. 14, when McDonald's plans to switch back to giving out toys.
5. McDonald's opened 10 less restaurants in 2012 than Chipotle had in total
In 2012, McDonald's opened 1,400 new restaurants. That was 10 less restaurants than Chipotle had, as of 2012 year-end, in total. Just like the hamburger stat, this truly speaks to the mammoth nature of McDonald's which, even in an environment where growth is slowing for the company, can open a fleet of new restaurants nearly equivalent to the entire location count of a major competitor.
The Foolish Takeaway
McDonald's golden arches are one of the most globally recognizable logos in the world, yet just because you have known this fast food giant since you were first learning to walk doesn't mean there aren't things to be learned, places to search. There will always be things to be learned, even about a company such as McDonald's.