Nowadays, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a McDonald’s. There’s probably not a town in America with 5000 or more residents that doesn’t have one.
But they were much less commonplace when we grew up. You might have had to drive a hundred miles to find one.
The original McDonald’s drive-ins were easy to recognize. They had those amazing Golden Arches that you could spot a mile away. And they also proudly proclaimed how many hamburgers they had foisted upon the hungry public to that point.
Maybe you remember the scene from Woody Allen’s classic flick Sleeper, when he awoke in the future and saw a McDonald’s that stated that it had sold 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 hamburgers.
Anyhow, McDonald’s did some serious expansion under Ray Kroc, who bought the chain of four southern California restaurants from brothers Dick and Mac McDonald in 1954.
By 1977, they finally made it to nearby Rogers, Arkansas. I must have eaten a couple hundred Quarter Pounders there as a teenager.
The oldest McDonald’s is in Downey, California. It opened in 1953, and I am proud to say that I have eaten there.
It was a real trip back in time to sit at the outdoor table and stare at those beautiful arches. The restaurant was locked in time, with the original sign, decorations, and everything (except the prices).
But the franchise had changed by the 70’s, then an indoor eating facility. I rarely go there nowadays, having adopted a low-fat diet which in direct contrast with the McDonald’s menu. But I have fond memories of when the big yellow M finally showed up in my neighborhood.