Early McDonald's menus  MAR 18 2013

McDonald's started out as McDonald's Bar-B-Q in San Bernardino, CA in 1940. Here's a copy of the menu from that time:

original McDonald's menu

The drive-in BBQ restaurant was a great success:

The restaurant had carhops serving guests and would often see 125 cars crowding the lot on weekends. They quickly saw their annual sales topping $200,000 on a regular basis.

But competitors opened similar restaurants and they were selling more hamburgers than barbequed ham so the McDonald brothers closed their place for three months to retool. They reopened as plain old McDonald's, serving cheap fare (like hamburgers) quickly. This is what an early version of the menu looked like:

original McDonald's menu

The original McDonald's served potato chips and pie, which were swapped out for french fries and milkshakes after the first year; that photo must have been taken sometime after the switch. Ray Kroc got involved in 1955 and opened the first McDonald's franchise east of the Mississippi in Des Plaines, Illinois:

Kroc's first Mcdonalds

The version of the menu currently going around (on Reddit; I found it here) looks like it's from the Kroc era, the arches having been introduced in 1953, shortly before he got involved:

original McDonald's menu

It's interesting to compare these early McDonald's menus to the current menus of places like In-N-Out Burger and Five Guys, especially in comparison with the sprawling McDonald's menu of today:

In N Out Menu

After reading all these menus, you're probably getting hungry. So here's how to make a hamburger that tastes like an original McDonald's hamburger from 1948 (as well as recipes for a bunch of other McDonald's menu items, from McNuggets to the McRib to the dipping sauces). Enjoy!

Read more posts on kottke.org about:
food   McDonald's   restaurants

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