You might not guess it by just grabbing a Big Mac, but McDonald's has deep roots in Illinois.

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How Did McDonald's Get Its Start?

Let's start from the beginning;

According to, McDonald's technically started as a drive-in in San Barnardino, California in 1940 by two brothers named Maurice "Mac" and Richard McDonald. These two brothers are also responsible for revamping the business into a self-service format producing mass quantities of food at cheap prices, BUT they are not the ones who turned McDonald's into a worldwide fast food giant, Ray Kroc of Illinois was.

McDonald's Restaurant
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Who Was Ray Kroc?

Ray Kroc, the name synonymous with McDonald's franchising, became enamored with the McDonald brothers' efficient operation back in the 1950s and saw the potential for a streamlined, standardized burger joint to take the country by storm.

Kroc became a franchise agent for the McDonald's brothers, and in 1955 he began the McDonald's Corporation as we know it today. In 1961 Ray Kroc bought the McDonald brothers out of the business, and set up McDonald's Headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, (which moved to Chicago in 2018 and has remained ever since). Kroc also officially opened his first franchise McDonald's in Des Plaines, Illinois.

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Modern Day McDonald's

Ray Kroc is the man who created the now-iconic red and white color scheme and those recognizable Golden Arches. Kroc is the man who developed the standards for how McDonald's restaurants throughout the world should run, and he is the man that created Hamburger University to train franchisees how to run their restaurant.

So, I guess the moral of this story is;  when you see those Golden Arches, you're not just looking at a burger joint, you're looking at a symbol of American fast food success that was cultivated right here in Illinois. Pretty cool, right?

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