Since its first restaurant opened in San Bernardino, California, in 1940, it has almost become the global standard bearer of “Americana.”
The first and last word in fast food, making burgers the ultimate in convenience dining for the better part of 60 years.
The McDonald Brothers turned a simple burger joint into an instantly recognizable corporate entity that operates in over 36,500 restaurants, 119 countries and feeds 68 million people daily.
Yet more than 3/4 of a century after its inception, fervor is waning with the “I’m Lovin’ It,” ethos of the fast food franchise.
So now, the innocuous sweetness of mascot, Ronald McDonald, has evolved into a Creepy Clown, fanning concerns about fast food’s detriment to health.
Add increased knowledge of what goes on our plates and worries over genetically modified crops and other factors, the Big Mac’s appeal is now going the way of a rancid slice of gherkin.
The corporation has been on the ascendency since Ray Kroc opened his Des Plaines, Illinois franchise in 1955.
Yet recent financial reports have not been such a tasty morsel for the food giant.
As of April last year, McDonald’s suffered its 11th consecutive month drop in same-store sales with overall sales in America dipping by 4% and 1.7% worldwide.
The ignominy of parading such losses forced the restaurant chain to renege on reporting on monthly sales figures that it began to produce since 2003.
The embarrassing figures have forced McDonald’s to make concessions, such as remodelling into: “a modern, progressive restaurant.”
Some of their measures like increasing wages, adding all-day breakfasts, grainting greater power to frachisees and customized burgers, may go some way towards Hamburgling some losses back.
Although McDonald’s is far from being ruined and Ronald McDonald is a long way from lurking in the woods like his Creepy Clown peers. Yet do these losses indicate some kind of culinary paradigm shift?
There could be numerous reasons behind their drop, one of the more straightforward explanations would be a spike in greater and varied competition.
For example, in the UK in recent years, chicken restaurant Nando’s has exploded in popularity, offering swift peri-peri chicken on a plate. Another excuse could be the recent economic struggles of the last several years.
Although McDonald’s isn’t particularly expensive, it is an indulgence that can be easily avoided and perhaps sorely missed when people are penny pinching.
Frugality being the watchword recently has prompted the rise of a clutch of money conscious cooks, who take an aim at taste and price in equal mouthwatering measures.
Bloggers like Jack Monroe have made menus on a shoestring almost de rigeur when financial troubled waters are choppier than ever. Also apps and sites like Tasty, have made kitchen innovation much more simplistic in our social media saturated epoch.
With their pacy and quirky videos with equally quirky alterations to modern favourites, sites like Buzzfeed Tasty deliver something different to cooking without the tedium of lessons.
Also, GMOs are worrying people. There is somewhat of a drive to know what’s in food more than ever. The development of GMOs is a double-edged sword. In some ways, engineering crops that can withstand extremes in climate may go a long way to aiding global poverty.
However, with GMOs and advances like CRISPR Gene Editing, there are limitless possibilities to mutating crops with some very questionable variants… glow in the dark pigs, anyone?
Quick “Frankenfood” concoctions in a lab could become cheaper than fresh, organic materials and corporations are all about minimizing spending to maximize profit.
Fast food has never been a benchmark of healthy eating – despite probing documentaries like Supersize Me forcing a rethink of McDonald’s menus. So it may be all too tempting for McDonald’s and other fast food giants to become testing grounds for GMOs.
Or it could be something as simple as customers being tired of the menus. Although one can always rely on the fare at McDonald’s being consistent, it’s very unoriginal to anyone now and sometimes, the listless cooking of teenagers doesn’t whet an appetite too well.
Whatever the monetary malady that has hit this fast food chain is rooted in, it will need some TLC if they wish for customers to keep “Lovin’ It!”