McDonald's Corporation is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, serving more than 58 million customers daily. In addition to its signature restaurant chain, McDonald's Corporation held a minority interest in Pret A Manger until 2008 and was a major investor in the Chipotle Mexican Grill until 2006. They also owned the restaurant chain Boston Market until 2007.
A McDonald's restaurant is operated by either a franchisee, an affiliate, or the corporation itself. The corporation's revenues come from the rent, royalties and fees paid by the franchisees, as well as sales in company-operated restaurants. McDonald's revenues grew 27% over the three years ending in 2007 to $22.8 billion, and 9% growth in operating income to $3.9 billion.
McDonald's primarily sells hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken products, french fries, breakfast items, soft drinks, shakes and desserts. In response to changing consumer tastes, the company has expanded its menu to include salads, wraps and fruit.
The Golden Arches (a phrase of increasing usage) are the famous symbol of McDonald's. Originally, real arches that were part of the restaurant design. They were incorporated into the chain's logo in 1962, when the current Golden Arches logo resembled an "M" for "McDonald's".
The arches were introduced in 1953, when Dick and Mac McDonald were building a new outlet in Phoenix, Arizona. Architect Stanley Meston designed a walk-up hamburger stand with red and white tiles and a distinctive sloped roof, but Dick McDonald, wanting more visual appeal, sketched a pair of stylized yellow arches, one at each side. Meston accepted other changes but rejected the arches; in the end, sign-maker George Dexter was hired to construct the arches. When viewed from an angle, the design was reminiscent of the letter M. A sign out front incorporated yet a third yellow arch along with the chain's signature character, a chef named Speedee.
In 1962, seeking to upgrade its image, the company sought a new logo. Fred Turner sketched a stylized "V", but the company's head of engineering and design, Jim Schindler, extended the "V" into an "M" resembling a McDonald's store viewed from an angle, with a red isosceles trapezoid "roof" serving as background for lettering.
While McDonald's dropped the physical arches from nearly all of its restaurants in the 1960s, the Golden Arches have remained in the logo, and as a commonly understood term for the company. All McDonald's stores and commercials in Canada have a maple leaf in the middle of the Golden Arches.
They have also been seen more broadly as a symbol of capitalism or globalization, since they are one of the more prominent American corporations that have become global in their reach (along with Coca-Cola and Nike).