While the Golden Arches may not have much to do with french fries, you'll certainly find them in France (and pretty much everywhere else). With more than 31,000 locations spanning the globe, the Golden Arches have become, like the Nike swoosh and the iconic Coca-Cola script, an instantly recognizable symbol of American culture throughout the world.
Although the logo remains largely unchanged wherever you go, you can find slight variants from place to place. For instance, the arches outside the McDonald's in Salzburg, Austria, are surrounded by ornate wrought iron metalwork. New York's Times Square hosts Golden Arches emblazoned with bright lights and neon, and the Golden Arches in Canada have small maple leaves placed on their centers. For the most part, however, the Golden Arches in Brazil are the same as the ones in China.
And because the Golden Arches are so easily recognizable, they've even found their way into popular culture. For instance, the band U2 incorporated an enormous 100-foot (30-meter) tall yellow arch into the stage design for its PopMart tour, though, of course, band members insist its resemblance to McDonald's Golden Arches was purely coincidental. Sure it was, Bono. The popular cartoon "Family Guy" references the logo as well, depicting Ronald McDonald as a scary clown tormenting one of the show's characters with the Golden Arches. New York Times editorialist Thomas Friedman even named a political theory, The Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention, after the logo. Not bad for a big, golden "M."
Keep reading for links to more french-fried trivia.