Today marks the 75th anniversary of the McDonald’s restaurant chain, which was founded in 1940 as a Southern California barbecue joint and has since expanded to more than 35,000 locations across the globe. Here are some highlights from the company’s history:

  • 1939: Nation’s cattle don’t know what’s about to hit them
  • 1940: Brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald open their original location in San Bernadino; first grill cook stares at paycheck in utter disbelief
  • 1948: While examining the restaurant’s monthly ledger, Maurice asks Richard just how important the purest, freshest ingredients are to the business
  • 1949: Original stockpile of ground beef runs out
  • 1952: Diners form slightest suspicion that food might be toxic for human body
  • 1963: “Ronald McDonald” narrowly beats out “Ground Beef Clown” as the official name of McDonald’s corporate mascot
  • 1971: Grimace is introduced, originally intended as way for CEO Ray Kroc to externalize his emotional distress
  • 1979: “Your Children Are Ours Now” campaign launched for unveiling of the Happy Meal
  • 1981: Eight-year-old Christopher Jenkins becomes first child to tell stepmother that taking him to McDonald’s isn’t going make him love her
  • 1990: Restaurant on Moscow’s Red Square built brick-by-brick by former president Ronald Reagan
  • 1996: Visibly distraught adult woman Debbie Howard shoves her way past dozens of customers to purchase Happy Meal containing Teenie Beanies
  • 2003: McDonald’s crosses rubicon from being an occasional treat to a grim financial necessity in the American household

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