5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About McDonald's

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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.    

Read/Post Comments (22) | Recommend This Article (22)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 10:28 AM, Mad4jes wrote:

    It's good to hear nice things about McDonalds for a change.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 11:00 AM, joeythethrifty wrote:

    That should be "10 fewer restaurants", not "10 less restaurants".

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 11:26 AM, tomhunt wrote:

    McD's profits from beverage sales alone cover the entirety of their payroll obligations. Their deal with coca cola provides them Cup, Ice, & Drink for 8 cents cost. Yet they have no problem bogging down states and taxpayers with low-paid, low-taxed income earners who have to cover monthly shortfalls with assistance. Why should states prop up and subsidize McDonald's profits. McD's own employee budget advice necessitates a 2nd full-time job. They are obviously very profitable and should've increased hourly employee wages by a few dollars years ago. Not to mention they sell poison.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 12:20 PM, warhorse03826 wrote:


    mcdonalds isn't supposed to be a lifetime job. those "low paid low taxed" workers are supposed to be high school kids with their first job, or a second job for people who have needs greater than their primary job can support.

    mcdonalds, like every other company, is about making money and perpetuating the business. and if they "sold poison" why would anyone eat there?

    how many jobs have you created? if mcdonalds is such a burr under your saddle perhaps you can start a company and do what they do. use your higher wages and costs in your advertizing, and see how far that gets you. I'm sure pretentious socialist jerks would go there, but they're cheap as a rule..they'll go, but they won't spend much money..just want to be "seen" there before you close from lack of profits.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 12:54 PM, chrismireya wrote:

    @ tomhunt:

    A job at McDonald's is not a career. It is primarily filled with students, dropouts and supplemental income earners. It is an unskilled job filled by unskilled workers who typically do not last more than a year at each location. For each individual who leaves the local McDonald's, there are dozens more than apply for that job opening.

    There is a correct for this article as well. McDonald's -- the corporation -- didn't "open" (as in ownership sense) 1400 restaurants. Most of those were small business owners who purchased franchises from McDonald's.

    In fact, the vast majority of McDonald's restaurants are independently owned franchises. Most of them pay McDonald's the franchise fees and many have a difficult time searching for profitability.

    The claim that McDonald's workers are bogging down the entitlement industry created by Liberals is simply unfounded. Since most are students and supplemental income workers, they either do not seek or are ineligible for such entitlements.

    In no universe is anunskilled burger flipper worth $15/hour -- about the same as an entry-level college graduate. If the fast food employee wants to earn more, then he should prove to an employer that he is worth the investment. He/she can do this through education or job training.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 12:55 PM, chrismireya wrote:

    *There is a correction for this article as well.

    Please excuse my previous typo.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 1:48 PM, rssnunya wrote:

    My comment would be, Why in the world would you eat there if not force by gun to head ?

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 1:52 PM, tomhunt wrote:

    The avg. age of fast food employees has risen to 28. It is unskilled but they still toil at a very profitable company. Do you? There are fewer and fewer employers that even want to keep someone for a "lifetime." I'm not saying raise the pay to $15/hour but I think $7.25 is outdated. And if your against entitlements you can always return your social security checks to the sender.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 1:55 PM, koolkountrygrl wrote:

    None of the articles mentioned how McDonalds supports cruelty to animals. I saw a documentary of undercover cameras at their beef farms last year and the images will always haunt me. I will never walk into one of their restaurants again.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 3:57 PM, MikeG17 wrote:


    Social Security IS NOT an entitlement !!

    I receive SS and my employers and I paid into it for over 40 years. It's MY money and I deserve it for the remainder of my life, This is NOT a handout.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 4:02 PM, willy1514 wrote:

    I know a lot about McDonald's because I grew up in Des Plaines, Illinois which was the home to Ray Kroc's first store, now reproduced as a museum. BTW, the museum is NOT authentically reproduced. In the museum, there is clear glass in the back so visitors can see the kitchen. In the original, the glass in back was frosted so that customers couldn't see the kitchen unless they stood on the little tile shelf on the south side of the building. When you're a kid, as I was then, you do dumb things like climbing where you shouldn't climb.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 5:13 PM, tomhunt wrote:


    Sir, I didn't call SS a handout. If you paid into it for 40 years you are entitled to it. It IS an entitlement. I am a taxpayer, if I needed assistance at some point I would use it. And if I got back on my feet again, I would pay it back through taxes.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 5:17 PM, GYMil89 wrote:

    Now before everybody jumps on this and calls me all kinds of names let me say: THIS IS MY OPINION and opinions are like butts they all stink! It's called capitalism folks! for those of you that want $15.00 an hour for an entry level job, wake up, the minute McDonald's, Burger King, or Subway starts paying a student(high school or college) this kind of money to serve fast food you are going to see $6-$10 burgers and sandwiches cause guess what? These places aren't going to give up even 1% of their profit margin to pay that kind of minimum wages. Don't believe me look at the history of the automobile industry, every time the union demanded and got a raise, what happen to the price of automobiles the following years? The prices increased! Yea I know some think tank math wiz supposedly said McDonald's could do it by adding 63 cents to the price of a big Mac! and increasing the price of their dollar items 25 cents. However you and I know that prices will go more than that and on top of it these places will reduce their work forces as they have done in the past when forced to increase minimum wages!

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 5:37 PM, tomhunt wrote:

    The low cost of McD's burgers is costing us elsewhere. All I'm saying.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 9:05 PM, PaulCain wrote:

    I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but a name change is in order here. tomhunt will now be referred to as mikehunt for all future postings. Thank you and sorry, again, for the inconvenience.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 9:33 PM, GREENMM31 wrote:

    @tomhunt You are misinformed, the money you paid into SS was not your money, it was used to pay current retirees at the time, it was not for you future retirement. When you retired there may have be sufficient workers to pay your portion, but that could change, such is the nature of an aging population. The fact you paid into the system does not insure that funds will be available to you for the rest of your life, sounds like you are saying you are sir you DON'T DESERVE ANYTHING.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2013, at 9:58 PM, tomhunt wrote:


    I understand that SS won't be around in the same form when I reach my 60s. I understand, I'm not funding my own retirement with it. I was responding to MikeG who said I called it a handout. It is an entitlement by definition. The future of SS is part of the entitlement reform discussion. Current SS recipients are eligible because they paid into it during their lifetime or they receive survivor benefits of a spouse that did or are on long term disability. Sorry for the confusion. Read a book.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2013, at 12:15 AM, ogo wrote:

    Half the people posting comments on here are a bunch of conservative republicans who do not even realize that they are being beaten over the heads with that narrowminded ideology. So, just get off the board. Republicans need not reply. You're just a pack of barstool idiots. All you can do is harp about entitlements and the flaws of Social Security. I have not seen anyone on this posting board who knows crap from applebutter. You're boring me out of my skull.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2013, at 1:44 AM, sissyh2o wrote:

    better to be thought a fool

    than to open your mouths

    and prove it so

    just saying

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2013, at 9:18 AM, CrazyDocAl wrote:

    For all those who think that McDonalds (and others) are sucking off of taxpayer money when they pay so little that their workers qualify for subsidies like medicaid and food stamps need to understand this. If not for McDonalds hiring these people they most likely wouldn't have a job and the amount of taxpayer money they would be getting would be even higher.

    In fact if McDonalds was forced to pay $15 an hour they could just turn around the POS registers and let the customers choice what they want and pay with credit. That move alone would allow them to cut 50% of the jobs.

    McDonalds is that quintessential job that fills a void. One where the skill level need not be high allowing people with little actual job experience to work. If you are still there after a year and are not well on your way to management they you need help.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2013, at 3:42 PM, Meradura wrote:

    And exactly who ever said that SS was going to be a retirement fund for life? The same goes for the minimum wage,neither of these two were meant to extend beyond the economic crisis of the 1930's. However FDR saw them as a means to ensure votes from the poor and the ignorant which are normally one and the same, years later LBJ gave us the war on poverty which now supports third generation if not fourth generation of poor and ignorant who have never worked a day in their ENTITLED lives. Not even at McD's for minimum wages.

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 10:27 PM, redwooddancer wrote:

    "The suffering for children will end on Nov. 14, when McDonald's plans to switch back to giving out toys."

    Since when is a child "suffering" with a book? At least a book could be recycled, as opposed to the huge piles of trashed broken plastic toys in the landfill. I know, it was supposed to be snarky...

    A lot of emotion on the replies and precious few facts.

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