How McDonald's Works


McDonald's Reputation
McDonald's put out premium salads after receiving harsh criticism about its unhealthy food.
McDonald's put out premium salads after receiving harsh criticism about its unhealthy food.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Although people argue about how much McDonald's and other fast food chains are to blame for obesity problems and other issues, it's clear that the accusations have scarred its reputation. As a result, the company has worked to improve its image.

For instance, after "Super Size Me" was screened at the Sundance Film Festival, McDonald's swiftly responded. Before the film had even reached a general audience, the company pulled the "Super-size" option from its stores in an effort to make the menu more health-conscious. In addition, by 2004, it introduced an adult Happy Meal called the Go Active! Happy Meal, consisting of a premium salad, bottled water and a pedometer. This wasn't the first time the company sought the health-conscious demographic. In 1991, it introduced the McLean Deluxe. This sandwich graced the menu only briefly, however, as it failed miserably in sales.

­McDonald's also faced the challenge of improving the perception of the career opportunities it offered. By the 1980s, the term "McJob" was coined to represent a dead-end, low-paying job. Although the term represents any job of this sort, it's based on McDonalds' occupations. After it made its way into common parlance and even the Merriam-Webster and Oxford English dictionaries, McDonald's made efforts to undo this negative reputation.­

­In the 2000s, it launched an advertising campaign to tout the advantages and upward mobility of working at McDonald's. It bragged, "McProspects - over half of our executive team started in our restaurants. Not bad for a McJob" [source: BBC]. McDonald's asked Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary to change their definitions of the term "McJob" so it wouldn't offend McDonald's employees. The request cited that more than a thousand crew workers have risen through the ranks to own and operate McDonald's restaurants [source: AP].

 

 

Lately, McDonald's has earned respect for its improved animal welfare and environmental policies. The company enforces standards on its meat suppliers, ensuring humane methods for handling livestock -- such as phasing out the debeaking of chickens. It also forbids suppliers from using growth hormones on livestock [source: Capell]. In 2007, McDonald's announced that it would buy coffee only from growers who are certified by the Rainforest Alliance. On top of that, some people argue that fast food is inherently greener than other options due to its efficiency [source: Forbes].

As McDonald's deals with its share of criticism, some people would argue that the business serves up Happy Meals and more to millions of kids and kids-at-heart throughout the world.

Still craving more of a fast food knowledge fix? Explore the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links

Sources

  • AAJ. "McDonald's Scalding Coffee Case." American Association for Justice. [Oct. 9, 2008] http://www.justice.org/pressroom/FACTS/frivolous/McdonaldsCoffeecase.aspx
  • AP. "Egg McMuffin inventor Herb Peterson dies in California at 89." International Herald Tribune. March 27, 2008. [Oct. 9, 2008] http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/03/27/america/Obit-Peterson.php
  • AP. "McDonald's not lovin' 'McJob' dictionary definition." CNN.com. Nov. 10, 2003. [Oct. 9, 2008] http://www.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/books/11/08/mcjob.dictionary.ap/index.html
  • AP. "McDonald's Settles Beef Over Fries." CBS News. June 5, 2002. [Oct. 9, 2008] http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/06/05/national/main511109.shtml
  • Basic Books. "Movers and Shakers." Basic Books, 2003. [Oct. 9, 2008] http://books.google.com/books?id=iGTOLF6ffHoC
  • BBC. "Fast Food Factory." British Broadcasting Corporation. [Oct. 6, 2008] http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/specials/1616_fastfood/page2.shtml
  • BBC. "McDonald's seeks 'McJob' rewrite." BBC News. March 20, 2007. [Oct. 9, 2008] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6469707.stm
  • Business Strategy Review. "Business Heroes: Ray Kroc." Business Strategy Review. Winter 2005, Vol. 16 Issue 4, pg. 47-48.
  • Capell, Kerry. "McDonald's Offers Ethics with Those Fries." BusinessWeek. Jan. 9, 2007. [Oct. 9, 2008] http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/jan2007/gb20070109_958716.htm?chan =globalbiz_europe_today%27s+top+story
  • CBS.MW. "MHU: A tradition of hamburgerology." CBS Market Watch.com. Oct 6, 1999. [Oct. 9, 2008]
  • Clark, Paul. "No fish story: Sandwich saved his McDonald's." USA Today. Updated Feb. 20, 2007. [Oct. 9, 2008] http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2007-02-20-fish2-usat_x.htm
  • Fitzgerald, Michael. "A Drive-Through Lane to the Next Time Zone." The New York Times. July 18, 2004. [Oct. 14, 2008] http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0DE2D9153AF93BA25754C0A9629C8B63
  • Forbes­. "Decisions: 29 Green Choices: Fast Vs. 'Slow' Food." Forbes.com. [Oct. 9, 2008] http://www.forbes.com/2008/07/24/green-choices-consumer-tech-paperplastic08-cx_de_0724 paper_slide_15.html?thisSpeed=15000
  • Frisch, Carlienne A. "Careers in Starting and Building Franchises." The Rosen Publishing Group, 1998. [Oct. 7, 2008] http://books.google.com/books?id=Hx7zU0WADI4C
  • Gilpin, Kenneth N. "Richard McDonald, 89, Fast-Food Revolutionary." New York Times. July 16, 1998. [Oct. 6, 2008] http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0DE7D81630F935A25754C0A96E958260
  • Gogoi, Pallavi. "McDonald's Tricky Makeover." BusinessWeek. [Oct. 14, 2008] http://images.businessweek.com/ss/06/05/mcdonalds/index_01.htm?campaign_id=rediff
  • Haig, Matt. "Brand Failures." Kogan Page Publishers, 2003. [Oct. 8, 2008] http://books.google.com/books?id=S3mBjtBR-3wC
  • Haig, Matt. "Brand Royalty." Kogan Page Publishers, 2006. [Oct. 6, 2008] http://books.google.com/books?id=f4AJ0AU58a4C
  • Kincheloe, Joe L. "The Sign of the Burger." Temple University Press, 2002. [Oct. 6, 2008] http://books.google.com/books?id=jo88ePT5m0UC
  • Kristof, Nicholas D. "Big Macs to Go." The New York Times. March 22, 1998. [Oct. 14, 2008] http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A07E4D61F30F931A15750C0A96E958260
  • Kroc, Ray, Robert Anderson. "Grinding it Out." Macmillan, 1987. [Oct. 6, 2008] http://books.google.com/books?id=ZavI5VI33CkC
  • Love, John F. "Big Macs, Fries, and Real Estate." Financial Executive. April 1987. Issue 4, pg. 20-26.
  • McDonald's Corp.. "About McDonald's." McDonald's Corp.. [Oct. 9, 2008] http://www.mcdonalds.com/corp/about.html
  • McDonald's Corp.. "Community." McDonald's Corp.. [Oct. 14, 2008] http://www.mcdonalds.com/usa/good/community.html
  • McDonald's Corp.. "Hamburger University." McDonald's Corp.. [Oct. 9, 2008] http://www.mcdonalds.com/corp/career/hamburger_university/our_curriculum.html
  • McDonald's Corp.. "McDonald's Restaurant Development." McDonald's Corp.. [Oct. 14, 2008] http://www.mcdonalds.com/corp/franchise/realestate.html
  • McDonald's Corp.. "McDonald's USA - Real Estate FAQ's." McDonald's Corp.. [Oct. 14, 2008] http://www.mcdonalds.com/corp/franchise/realestate/real_estate_faq.html
  • McDonald's Corp.. "The McDonald's History - 1965 to 1973." McDonald's Corp.. [Oct. 14, 2008] http://www.mcdonalds.com/corp/about/mcd_history_pg1/mcd_history_pg3.html
  • McLibel Support Campaign. "What's Wrong With McDonald's?" McLibel Support Campaign. [Oct. 14, 2008] http://prernalal.com/banned%20books/Whats%20Wrong%20With%20Mcdonalds.pdf
  • Meredith, Robyn, Suzzanne Hoppough. "Why Globalization is Good." Forbes.com. April 16, 2007. [Oct. 14, 2008] http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2007/0416/064.html
  • Pepin, Jacques. "Ray Kroc." TIME. Dec. 7, 1998. [Oct. 9, 2008] http://www.time.com/time/time100/builder/profile/kroc.html
  • Quinn, James. "McDonald's 'Dollar Menu' may be headed for extinction." Telegraph. Sept., 22, 2008. [Oct. 9, 2008]
  • Reeger, Jennifer. "Young interviewer grills Big Mac inventor." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. [Oct. 9, 2008] http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_383369.html
  • Ritzer, George. "The McDonaldization of Society 5." Pine Forge Press, 2007. [Oct. 14, 2008] http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1412954304/ref=sib_dp_pt
  • RMHC. "about Ronald McDonald House Charities: How McDonald's Helps." Ronald McDonald House Charities. [Oct. 9, 2008] http://rmhc.org/about/how-mcdonalds-helps
  • Schlosser, Eric. "Fast Food Nation." Houghton Mifflin Books, 2001. [Oct. 6, 2008] http://books.google.com/books?id=yNFN1OpnkBkC
  • ­Watson, James L. "Golden Arches East." Stanford University Press, 2006. [Oct. 14, 2008] http://books.google.com/books?id=Us2SKv7RWJEC
  • Young, William H., Nancy K. Young. "The Great Depression in America." Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007. [Oct. 6, 2008] http://books.google.com/books?id=QYYMqXUyjnUC

More to Explore