95 Interesting Facts about McDonald's Food

By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published August 19, 2016Updated October 14, 2016
  • McDonald’s has sold well over 100 billion hamburgers.[9]
  • McDonald’s serves up over 30 million chickens in Great Britain alone every year. Of this total, 60% of the chicken is important frozen from Brazil, 9% comes from Thailand, and 30% from Holland. Just 1% of the McDonald’s chicken in Great Britain comes from Great Britain.[20]
  • In the United States alone, people eat over 1 billion pounds of beef at McDonald’s in a year, which is 5½ million head of cattle.[16]
  • McDonalds Corporation sells over 1 billion cups of coffee each year around the world. It sells 500 million cups a day in the U.S. alone.[17]
  • McDonald’s opens a new restaurant every four hours.[9]
  • McDonald’s is the nation’s largest purchaser of beef, pork, and potatoes. It is the second largest purchaser of chicken.[22]
  • Since 1948, McDonald’s has sold over 4 trillion fries
  • McDonald’s serves about 9 million pounds of fries globally—per day.[19]
  • McDonald’s Corporation is the largest owner of retail property in the world. The company earns most of its profits not from selling food, but by collecting rent.[22]
  • The smallest McDonald’s restaurant is only 492 square feet. It is in Tokyo, Japan.[9]
  • The largest McDonald’s restaurant is over 28,000 square feet and is located in Beijing.[9]
  • The top 10 busiest McDonald’s restaurants are all in Hong Kong.[9]
  • The original McDonald’s menu did not offer French fries.[9]
  • There are about 35,429 McDonald’s worldwide.[26]
  • The world’s largest building, the Kuala Lumpur Tower in Malaysia, houses a McDonald’s restaurant.[9]
  • Each year, McDonald’s buys 3.4 billion pounds of potatoes.[28]
  • McDonald’s (and other fast food restaurants’) chicken is composed primarily of fat, with some blood vessels and nerves present.[22]
  • McDonald’s calls people who eat a lot of their food “heavy users.”[22]
  • A McDonald's strawberry shake contains zero strawberries
  • A McDonald’s strawberry milkshake contains about 50 chemicals that are used to imitate the flavor of strawberries.[12]
  • Willard Scott was the first Ronald McDonald. He was fired for being too fat.[22]
  • Only seven items on the McDonald’s menu contain no sugar.[22]
  • The McCafe fruit smoothie has more sugar per serving than a Coke.[22]
  • McDonald’s salads make up just 2%–3% of the fast food chain’s U.S. restaurant sales.[1]
  • McDonald’s buys 54 million pounds of fresh apples a year.[9]
  • The original McDonald’s had a hickory pit and served barbecued beef, ham, and pork along with chili, tamales, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.[23]
  • More than 80, 000 students from around the globe have graduated with “Bachelor of Hamburgerology” degrees from McDonald’s “Hamburger University.”[9]
  • The most northerly McDonald’s restaurant is on the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Finland.[9]
  • The most southerly McDonald’s franchise is in Invercargill, New Zealand.[9]
  • New Zealand is also home to the world’s most easterly McDonald’s restaurant in the city of Gisborne. The most westerly restaurant is in Western Samoa, as they are the closest to either side of the International Date Line.[9]
  • McDonald’s largest market outside the U.S is Japan, with over 3,000 restaurants.[9]
  • With dressing and croutons, the salad has 425 calories and 21.4g of fat, compared with the 253 calories and 7.7g of fat in the standard burger
  • McDonald’s Caesar salad is more fattening than its hamburger.[1]
  • In Japan, Ronald McDonald is known as “Donald McDonald” to make pronunciation easier for the Japanese.[9]
  • Every day, McDonald’s feeds over 68 million people. This is more than the entire population of the U.K.[16]
  • McDonald’s fruit-and-maple oatmeal has as much sugar as a bag of M&Ms.[8]
  • A McWrap, which McDonald’s touts as a healthy menu choice, has 1,280 milligrams of sodium, more than half of what an adult should consume in an entire day.[27]
  • The McDonald’s McWrap has 121 ingredients, including trans fats, chemicals on the FDA watch list, and more.[27]
  • McDonald’s offered the first nationally available fast food breakfast sandwich when it introduced the Egg McMuffin in 1972. By 1987, a quarter of all breakfasts eaten outside of the home in the U.S. were from McDonald’s.[23]
  • McDonald’s won’t open a franchise unless it’s economically viable in a territory, which is why the presence of the food giant is sometimes used as an indicator of the country’s financial stability.[9]
  • It takes over half of a day walking to burn of a McDonald's meal
  • A person would need to walk for seven hours straight to burn off a super-sized Coke, fries, and Big Mac.[21]
  • McDonald’s tried to open a restaurant in Bermuda, but the local outcry was so widespread that a law was passed banning all franchised restaurants in the country. According to one resident, “McDonald’s cheapens wherever it goes. It is not Bermudian.”[10]
  • Countries that have banned McDonald’s include North Korea, Bolivia, Macedonia, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Iceland, Yemen, Bermuda, Montenegro, and Kazakhstan.[10]
  • The unhealthiest item on the McDonald’s menu is the “Big Breakfast with Hotcakes and Large Size Biscuit.” It has a whopping 1,150 calories, 60 grams of fat, 20 grams of saturated fat, 17 grams of sugar, 575 milligrams of cholesterol, 116 grams of carbohydrates, and 2,260 grams of sodium.[18]
  • The wealth gap between McDonald’s CEOs and its workers has doubled over the last 10 years.[22]
  • While McDonald’s originally used harvested soybeans from endangered parts of the rainforest to feed chickens, it later teamed up with Greenpeace to place a moratorium on trading soybeans that had been harvested from newly deforested areas.[22]
  • In 1992, 79-year-old customer Stella Liebeck sustained 3rd degree burns after spilling a cup of McDonald’s coffee. She was awarded just less than half of a million dollars in total damages.[16]
  • The McRib is a product of “restructured meat product”—or a mixture of tripe, heart, and scalded stomach—which is then mixed with salt and water to extract proteins from the muscle. The proteins bind all the pork trimmings together so that it can be reshaped into a fake slab of ribs.[24]
  • The McRib contains over 70 ingredients
  • McDonald’s McDLT had such wide backlash over its Styrofoam packaging that it later pulled the burger. The sandwich came in two Styrofoam containers. One contained the lettuce and tomato, and the other the burger. The aim was to keep the veggies cold and the burger hot.[22]
  • Of the 196 countries in the world, McDonald’s is in 119 (61%) of them.[10]
  • There are 179 McDonald restaurants in India—a country where most people do not eat beef or pork.[22]
  • McDonald’s sells more than 75 hamburgers per second.[17]
  • McDonald’s Big Mac has 18 separate additives, and the cheeseburger has about 17 separate additives. Additives are present in almost everything on the menu, including the grilled chicken and salads. Researchers have found that children who eat certain additives are more likely to be overactive, impulsive, and unable to concentrate.[12]
  • McDonald’s (and other fast food restaurants) uses propylene glycol in its sauces, glazes, and hotcakes. It is a “less toxic” version of ethylene glycol, which is a dangerous antifreeze. Its purpose is to prevent products from becoming too solid.[13]
  • A common additive in McDonald’s and other chains’ fast food is calcium silicate, which is a white powder often used to prevent bricks, roof tiles, and cement from caking.[13]
  • The famous arches were incorporated into the chain's logo in 1962
  • More people recognize McDonald’s golden arches than they do the Catholic cross.[16]
  • Azodicarbonamide, an odorless synthetic chemical mostly used in the production of foamed plastics, is also used in McDonald’s buns as a flour-bleaching agent.[15]
  • One economist estimates that at least 5% of McDonald’s revenue comes from soft drinks. A fast food soda (18 oz.) that sells for $1.99 costs the restaurant about $0.16, a markup of over 1,250%.[2]
  • The McDonald’s restaurants in India are the only ones in the world where a person cannot buy beef. Instead, all-lamb versions of the Big Mac, called the “Maharaja Mac,” are available.[9]
  • The Big Mac was introduced in 1968. The calories in a Big Mac depend on the way a specific McDonald’s restaurant adapts it to the regional cuisine. For example, in the United States, the Big Mac has 550 calories. In Australia it has 493 calories. In Japan, it has 557 calories.[23]
  • McDonald’s opened a Big Mac Museum Restaurant in western Pennsylvania on August 22, 2007, to celebrate the sandwich’s 40th anniversary. The museum houses the world’s largest Big Mac statue, at 14 feet tall and 12 feet wide.[23]
  • Just as Pavlov could get a dog to salivate anytime it heard a bell, McDonald’s can attract customers by its universal jingle and other consistent experiences, such as the same images, logos, and greetings.[11]
  • McDonald’s Happy Meals have been served since 1979. In the mid-1970s, a Guatemalan woman name Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño invented the happy meal (which she called the “Menu Ronald”) to make it easier for mothers to feed their children. The concept was later co-opted by Bob Bernstein, CEO of an advertising agency, who ultimately named the small meal the “happy meal” and was given credit for the idea.[23]
  • The rates of childhood diabetes and obesity have been steadily increasing
  • Approximately 9 out of 10 American children eat at a McDonald’s restaurant every month.[21]
  • McDonald’s makes burgers like Ford makes cars: with an assembly line method.[22]
  • Treating scrap meat with ammonium hydroxide creates a pink goo that is used to extend meat products, such as chicken and beef, to kill bacteria. In 2012, McDonald’s confirmed it stopped using ammonium hydroxide (which is also used in fertilizers and household cleaners) in its hamburger meat.[7][14]
  • McDonald’s spends more than $1 billion a year on direct media advertising.[22]
  • Even after three years of being sealed in a jar, McDonald’s fries show little signs of aging. McDonald’s uses a significant amount of sodium propionate to prevent bacterial or mold growth.[13]
  • Utah resident David Whipple forgot about a paper-wrapped McDonald’s hamburger in his coat pocket that he bought in 1999. When he found the burger 14 years later, it had hardly decomposed.[13]
  • After the pink goo controversy, McDonald’s maintains that only breast meat is used in their nuggets. The meat is then shredded before being mixed in with “seasoning” and chicken skin. The meat is then cut into four nugget shapes: the bell, the ball, the boot, and the bow tie. They are then battered, partially fried and then shipped. Their cooking is completed at the restaurants in deep fryers.[14]
  • A cheeseburger Happy Meal contains 520 calories, 20 grams of total fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, and a whopping 880 milligrams of sodium
  • McDonald’s is the largest distribution of toys in the world. Each year, it distributes 1.4 billion toys worldwide, which is more than Hasbro and Mattel.[16]
  • McDonald’s starts aggressive marketing toward children at a young age to develop trust and reliance. Researchers note that fast food restaurants want children to see them as a “mom and dad or grandma or grandpa.”[22]
  • McDonald’s operates more playgrounds than any other private entity in the United States.[22]
  • In 1997, McDonald’s included the tiny “Teenie Beanie Baby” toy in its Happy Meals. During that promotion, McDonald’s sold about 100 million Happy Meals—in one week.[3]
  • McDonald’s has partnered with several companies to market its Happy Meals, including the NBA, the Olympics, Nickelodeon, Barbie, Teletubbies, Transformers, Hello Kitty, Lego, and Disneyland—though, in 2006 Disney said it wanted to distance itself from fast food given the link to fast food and childhood obesity.[3]
  • In 2011, McDonald’s tried to make the Happy Meals more healthful for kids by adding apples to every package while removing the caramel sauce and reducing the French fry offering from 2.4 oz. to 1.1 oz. However, the meals still round out to about 600 calories, which experts say is still too much for small children. Additionally, researchers note that they are worried that the company is “health washing” kids by rebranding themselves as “healthy,” when they are actually just “less unhealthy.”[3]
  • Approximately 96% of American school children can identify Ronald McDonald. The only other fictional character that kids recognize more is Santa Claus.[25]
  • In Thailand, kids have the option of eating a pork burger in their happy meals, which actually has a higher calorie count and higher fat content than beef.[22]
  • In 2008, an unnamed 14-year-old girl found a piece of metal about an inch long in her McDonald’s hamburger. Health officials later determined that it was part of a veterinary needle or syringe from a packing plant in Ohio, most likely from an animal that was vaccinated before it was slaughtered.[4]
  • Max Ipinza found chewed gum inside his McDonald’s hamburger in 2007. He was concerned about contracting hepatitis after he bit into the hamburger and tasted something like peppermint.[4]
  • Since 1948, McDonald’s has sold over 4 trillion fries. If they were placed end to end, they would circle the globe 18,476 times. It would be enough fries to go to the moon and back—306 times—and to Jupiter and back 2 times.[19]
  • I went into McDonald's yesterday and said, "I'd like some fries." The girl at the counter said, "Would you like some fries with that?"

    - Jay Leno

  • In 2009, a 7-year-old girl in Switzerland found a condom in her French fries. Local police tried to determine if the condom posed a health risk. At the time of the story, McDonald’s declined to comment.[4]
  • Donald Jones, 58, is accused of trying to trade McDonald’s food for sex with a prostitute in Albuquerque, NM, in April 2013. And a woman in California allegedly offered sex to a customer in exchange for his chicken McNuggets.[6]
  • Several fast food restaurants list cellulose in their nutrition information. Cellulose is a common additive used in processed foods made of tiny indigestible plant fibers and wood pulp. McDonald’s has the most menu items containing cellulose, with the wood pulp additive found in shredded cheese, fish fillet patties, biscuits, sausage and scrambled egg mix, smoothie base, syrup, ice cream, barbeque sauce, sweet ’n’ sour sauce, and honey mustard.[5]
  • Potential concern for genetically modified organisms encouraged McDonald’s to state that it would no longer purchase genetically engineered potatoes in the U.S. In Europe, McDonald’s doesn’t use genetically modified foods due to restrictions imposed by the EU and national laws.[19]
  • McDonald’s is the 90th largest economy in the world, at $24 billion in revenue. Counting $32 billion in revenue from franchise stores, McDonald’s is the 68th biggest economy, which is larger than Ecuador.[16]
  • McDonald's centralization of the meat system has increased the risk for a large outbreak of disease
  • Eric Schlosser argues that, as a result of practices followed at McDonald’s and other fast food chains, meatpacking is the most dangerous job in the U.S. He also argues that the practices of meatpackers facilitated the introduction of deadly pathogens, such as e Coli 0157:H7, into America’s hamburger meat.[22]
  • McDonald’s employs 1 million workers in the U.S. every year, more than any other American organization, public or private. One in every eight American workers has been employed by McDonald’s.[16]
  • Famous people who worked at McDonald’s include Sharon Stone, Shania Twain, Jay Leno, Rachel McAdams, and Pink.[16]
  • McDonald’s company brand value is over US$85 billion. Starbucks is the second ranked fast food outlet, at an estimated brand value of $25 billion. Subway ($21 billion), KFC ($12 billion), Pizza Hut ($8 billion), Chipotle ($7 billion), Tim Hortons ($4 billion), Panera ($2.8 billion), Wendy’s ($2.7 billion), and Burger King ($2.6 billion) round out the top 10.[2]
  • McDonald’s sells unique menus items in every country. For example: banana pie, chicken porridge, the McLobster roll, and the McRice Burger. In Germany, McDonald’s even sells beer.[9]
  • A McDonald’s Big Mac has 550 calories. To burn off just the burger itself, without fries or soda, would take a 155-pound woman about an hour of cycling at a moderate pace of about 13 mph. Additionally, a Big Mac has half a person’s daily allowance of saturated fat.[25]
  • Iowan John Cisna lost 37 pounds after eating three meals a day at McDonald’s for 90 days straight. His typical meal plan included two egg whites delights, a bowl of maple oatmeal, and 1% milk for breakfast; a salad for lunch; and a value meal for dinner. He also increased his exercise. However, nutritionists point out that McDonald’s food is highly processed and that health is more important than weight.[8]
  • McDonald's uses an "egg blend" that includes glycerin, dimethylpolysiloxane, and calcium silicate
  • The eggs at McDonald’s are really a mixture that includes eggs and an “egg blend,” which includes a solvent found in soap and shaving cream. It also includes dimethylpolysiloxane, a silicone that can also be found in Silly Putty, and calcium silicate, a sealant used on roofs and concrete.[13]
  • McDonald’s shares fell after a Chinese broadcaster aired footage of meat workers using their bare hands at a Chinese factory to process expired meat, and even food that had fallen on the floor.[29]
  • In 2012, the purveyor of McDonald’s McRib sandwich said it would start requiring its pork suppliers to phase out confining gestation pens that are cruel to sows.[24]
  • McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets were so popular when introduced in 1979 that demand quickly outstripped chicken supply. To compensate for the chicken shortage, the pork McRib was invented.[24]
  • Paris is the only place in the world where the McDonald’s arches are white instead of golden.[9]

1 Bradford, Harry. “McDonald’s Admits Salads Only Make Up 2 to 3 Percent of Sales.” Huffington Post. Updated June 1, 2013. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

2Brand Value of the 10 Most Valuable Fast Food Brands Worldwide 2014 (in Million U.S Dollars).” Statista. 2014. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

3 Bryan, Steven. “McDonald’s Happy Meal Under Fire Once Again.” Yahoo News. November 11, 2010. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

4Chewed Gum Found in Big Xtra Burger.” CBC News. Updated May 10, 2007. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

5 DeNinno, Nadine. “McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, and More Have Wood Pulp in Food.” IB Times. July 1, 2014. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

6Donald Jones, New Mexico Man, Accused of Trading McDonald’s for Sex.” Huffington Post. Updated April 16, 2013. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

7 Flock, Elizabeth. “Pink Slime Removed from McDonald’s Burgers—but Other Food Additives Remain.” Washington Post. February 1, 2012. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

8 Friedman, Lauren F. “Here’s Why Eating McDonald’s Is a Bad Idea (Even if You Do Lose Weight.” Business Insider. January 6, 2014. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

9Fun Facts.” McDonalds. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

10 Govender, Serusha. “10 Countries that Banned McDonald’s.” The Daily Meal. April 9, 2014. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

11 Gowin, Joshua, PhD. “7 Things McDonald’s Knows about Your Brain.” Psychology Today. August 8, 2011. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

12 Hickman, Martin. “On the Menu at McDonald’s: 78 Additives (Some May Be Harmful).” The Independent. January 1, 2008 .Accessed: September 25, 2014.

13 Jacques, Renee. “These Disturbing Fast Food Truths Will Make You Reconsider Your Lunch.” Huffington Post. Updated May 12, 2014. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

14 Johnson, M. Alex. “McDonald’s Drops Use of Gooey Ammonia-Based ‘Pink Slime’ in Hamburger Meat.” NBC News. January 31, 2012. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

15 Little, Katie. “That Chemical Subway Ditched? McDonald’s, Wendy’s Use It Too.” NBC News. February 7, 2014. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

16 Lubin, Gus and Mamta Badkar. “15 Facts about McDonald’s that Will Blow Your Mind.” Business Insider. December 17, 2010. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

17McDonald’s Coffee in the U.S.” Coffee & Conservation. August 17, 2009. Accessed: October 12, 2014.

18 Myers, Dan. “The Unhealthiest Items on McDonald’s Menu.” Fox News. June 12, 2014. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

19 Patten, Leslie. “McDonald’s Pursuit of the Perfect French Fry.” Business Week. April 19, 2012. Accessed: October 12, 2014.

20 Rawstorne, Tom. “Revealed: The Very Unappetising Truth about McDonald’s Chicken Meals (Jamie Oliver, Look Away Now).” Daily Mail. Updated May 15, 2010. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

21 Robbins, John. “How Bad Is McDonald’s Food?” Huffington Post. Updated November 17, 2011. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

22 Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.

23 Smith, Andrew. Hamburger: A Global History. London, UK: Reaktion Books, Ltd, 2008.

24 Spector, Dina and Kim Bhasin. “11 Amazing Facts about the McDonald’s McRib.” Business Insider. December 17, 2012. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

25 Spurlock, Morgan, Dir. Super Size Me. Documentary. Universal City, CA: MCA Universal Home Video, 2004.

26Statistics and Facts on McDonald’s.” Statista. April 2013. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

27 Weingarten, Hemi. “McDonald’s McWraps: A Nutritious Choice?Fooducate. March 27, 2013. Accessed: October 12, 2014.

28 w Sloam, Natalia. “Things You Didn’t Know about French Fries.” Fox News. July 18, 2014. Accessed: September 25, 2014.

29 Yan, Sophia. “McDonald’s Stands By Expired Meat.” CNN Money. July 30, 2014. Accessed: September 25, 2014.