McDonald's is an global fast-food chain specializing in hamburgers. It operates more than 30,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries on 6 continents. Although the first McDonald's was opened in California in 1940 by the McDonald brothers, the first franchise under the corporation as it exists today was opened by Ray Kroc in Illinois in 1955. The company is headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois.
McDonald's is the most popular fast-food restaurant, and second to Subway in number of stores.
McDonald's has been criticized for knowingly selling unhealthy food, and having a history of advertising burgers and fries to children, who consume their Happy Meals and play in their indoor playgrounds, often with parents having no other choice since cities do not have adequate playgrounds for them.
However, McDonald's has shown it can improve its menu in recent years. The chain has added fresh salads to its menu, as well as apples, parfaits, milk, and juice to lighten up its meat, potatoes, and soda menu. McDonald's has not marketed burgers and fries directly to children in several years, and has promoted healthy lifestyles. They recently have also cut the amount of French fries in half (the portion size went from 2.4 ounces to 1.1 ounces) in their Happy Meals, replacing them with apple slices without the standard caramel sauce, reducing the caloric count to well below 600.. However, critics claim the hamburgers and fries are still the biggest product at the restaurants.
Richard and Maurice McDonald opened McDonald's Bar-B-Que in San Bernardino, California. It was a typical drive-in featuring a vast menu and carhops. In 1948, the McDonald brothers shut down the restaurant for three months for alterations. They remade it into a self-service restaurant featuring only a few menu items: Hamburgers and cheeseburgers, soda, milkshakes, coffee, potato chips, and pie, with the core staple being the 15 cent hamburger.
The present corporation dates back to the opening of a franchised restaurant by Ray Kroc, in Des Plaines, Illinois, on April 15, 1955, which was overall the ninth McDonald's restaurant opened. Kroc later purchased the McDonald brothers' equity in the company. Kroc led the chain's worldwide expansion. Ronald McDonald, the company's signature mascot, was introduced in 1967. He was originally portrayed by Willard Scott, but is now portrayed by several different people. McDonald's first filed for a U.S. trademark on the name "McDonald's" on May 4, 1961. They also filed for a trademark on the original overlapping arches, but eventually went with the modern "Golden Arches" that form an "M". The company also became listed on the public stock markets in 1965.
McDonald's restaurants are found in 119 countries, with over 31,000 restaurants, employ more than 1.5 million people, and serve over 58 million people a day.
McDonald's has often been accused of knowingly selling unhealthy food. McDonald's states that health is not only an issue of food but also of a balanced active lifestyle. McDonald's sponsors many events that promote active physical behavior, such as The Olympic Games.; this is why many McDonald's restaurants have a jungle gym for the children to play in and be active. McDonald's also sells salads and water, two healthy food items, breakfast foods such as oatmeal, and several drinks that are artificially flavored to taste like fruit. The "schlockumentary" Super Size Me aimed at proving that McDonald's had no interest in healthy customers whatsoever.
In 1990, McDonald's sued for libel several members of Greenpeace London (an organization which at the time of the incident was no longer connected with Greenpeace), who had been writing and distributing leaflets criticizing McDonald's. Of the five defendants, three repented due to lack of money for legal costs. The remaining two, Helen Steel and Dave Morris, decided to take the case to court in 1994 with pro bono legal representation and public donations. This became known as the McLibel Trial. On day 102 in court - March 13, 1995 - McLibel became the longest ever UK libel trial, beating the previous record of 101 days in the Daily Mail vs The Moonies (1982). On December 11, 1995, it became the longest civil case (as opposed to criminal) in British history. On November 1, 1996 (court day 292), McLibel became the longest trial of any kind in English history.
On June 19, 1997, Mr. Justice Bell took two hours to read his summary. He ruled that Steel and Morris had not proved the allegations against McDonald's on rainforest destruction, heart disease and cancer, food poisoning, starvation in the Third World and bad working conditions. But they had proved that McDonald's "exploit children" with their advertising, falsely advertise their food as nutritious, risk the health of their most regular, long-term customers, are "culpably responsible" for cruelty to animals, are "strongly antipathetic" to unions and pay their workers low wages.
The Judge ruled that Steel and Morris had libeled McDonald's, but as they had proved many of the allegations, they would only owe half of the claimed damages: £60,000.
Support for homosexual agenda
In March of 2008, Richard Ellis, McDonald's vice president of communications, joined the board of directors of a pro gay-rights organization, the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Ellis states:
I'm thrilled to join the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce team and ready to get to work. 
A boycott by the AFA ended on October 9th, 2008 when McDonald's chose to take a neutral position on gay issues. However, in 2010, McDonald's once again demonstrated active support for homosexuality as part of their "Come As You Are" campaign, airing a commercial in France which features a young customer talking on the phone to his lover. At the end of the commercial, the young man is revealed to be homosexual. 
Super Size Me
Super Size Me is a schlockumentary by liberal filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. The film is meant to criticize the fast food industry, with a special focus on McDonald's. Spurlock decides to go on a diet in which he would eat and drink items that came from McDonald's for thirty days. He had doctors check him before the experiment, and they said he was in excellent health.
Spurlock did this because he had said that McDonald's claimed their food could be integrated into a healthy diet. Spurlock ate three full meals from McDonald's for a month, eating each menu item at least once. He was to super size his meal only when asked by the cashier. He also greatly decreased his excercise regimen, to be on par with the average McDonald's consumer. Toward the end of his experiment, his doctors urgently advised him to quit to save his health and possibly his life.
After a month, Spurlock had significant weight gain, an increase in cholesterol, and fatty liver. McDonald's took the Super Size option off their menu, though they claim it was not a result of the film.
McDonald's outlets outside of the US often have different menu items, and the formulations of some products may vary. For example, McDonald's sells rice in many Asian countries, and McDonald's Australia sells a wider range of 'healthy' foods, such as wraps with poached chicken, and has smaller portion sizes.
McDonald's original menu when the Speedy Service System was adopted was simply hamburgers, chips, soda, and milkshakes.
Today, McDonald's has a largely meat-and-potatoes diet, with sandwiches such as the McDouble (two hamburger patties with cheese, onions, seasonings, and pickle) the Big Mac (a larger burger with two patties three buns, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, and a special sauce) the Quarter Pounder and the Double Quarter Pounder available with cheese, the Big n' Tasty (a sandwich similar to Burger King's Whopper), the McChicken (fried chicken sandwich with mayonnaise and lettuce) the Filet o' Fish (fish with tartar sauce), and others. There are also various sizes of French fries, sodas, milkshakes (strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, various seasonal shakes such as Mint and egg nog), ice cream and sundaes. In recent years, healthier options have been added such as premium salads, parfaits, Snack Wraps, and apples.
McDonald's employs workers, often those who are in high school and college. Wages are minimal, and only full-time workers receive benefits of any sort. McDonald's is an easy way for many people to become employed. Many people who even have college degrees who have a hard time finding a job get a job at a McDonald's. McDonald's creates opportunities for advancement, and there is even a university called "Hamburger University" for aspiring workers. On April 19, 2011, over 50,000 people are employed at local McDonald's restaurants.
- Fast Food Nation
- McDonald's Corporate website
- Super Size Me
- "National gay chamber adds McDonald’s corporation officer to board." Out and About March 13, 2008.
- Erin Roach. "McDonald's gives support to homosexual activists' agenda." Baptist Press April 3, 2008
- "Walmart launches gay-friendly initiative" August 21, 2006