On April 15 1955, a businessman by the name of Ray Kroc founded the first McDonald’s franchise after approaching two brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald (the pioneers of assembly line burgers), who owned a burger restaurant in San Bernardino, California. Kroc admired the extraordinary capacity of the restaurant so much that he soon began setting up new ones all across America and eventually bought the business rights from the McDonald brothers. Fifty years later, 250 million people dine at Maccas every day.
Good on ’em I say. Kroc’s formula for setting up the McDonald’s Global Empire was simple. Cook burgers quicker, cheaper, more efficiently than anyone else on earth. McDonald’s has fed families who can’t afford to eat out elsewhere. It has provided employment and lifelong skills for countless young people who would be hard pressed finding employment elsewhere. Not to mention the incredible amount of charity work they provide the community through Ronald McDonald House. When Kroc’s widow died last year, she left $US1.5 billion to the Salvation Army.
Yet, as this article rightly points out, in the eyes of McDonald’s vast army of enemies, none of this adds up to a hill of gherkins. Why? Because the ubiquitous golden M has come to symbolise something far more sinister than a burger chain. To liberal Europe, it stands for American cultural imperialism at its most coercive. To anti-capitalists, it epitomises the frightful power of the multinationals. To trade unionists, it represents autocratic managers riding roughshod over cowed workers. To environmentalists, it means the wanton destruction of natural resources and reckless production of more garbage. To animal-welfare campaigners, it signifies all that is vilest about slaughterhouse farming. And to nutritionists, their prescriptive tendencies encouraged by the media panic about obesity, it offers an irresistible target for wrath and heavy-handed satires such as Super Size Me.
Come on people. Grow up. If you want to change the world, there are bigger fish in the sea of ‘why the world is shit’ than burger chains. In the end, it’s about consumer choice. People like burgers that are fast, cheap, and don’t taste too bad. If no one bought Maccas, then they wouldn’t exist. Simple.
As for the (lack of) nutritional values of a Big Mac, so be it. It’s no secret that McDonald’s isn’t exactly part of a healthy diet. But neither is beer. To blame it for our obesity epidemic is irresponsible and ironically, lazy. The real cause of obesity is our lifestyle, not McDonald’s. We won’t be so fat if we stopped spending hours upon hours sitting in front of the TV, walked to the shops instead of driving, and maybe even exercise now and again. But that will require effort, using McDonald’s as a scapegoat is far easier.
Have a nice day.