8 facts about McDonald's hamburgers that might surprise you

8 facts about McDonald's hamburgers that might surprise you
mcdonald's hamburger, fries, and drink on a tray
McDonald's hamburgers are famous, but you might not know these interesting facts about them.Patcharaporn Puttipon2465/Shutterstock
  • The first McDonald's restaurant wasn't primarily a burger restaurant.

  • The first "Big Mac" sold for 45 cents and was named by a 21-year-old secretary.

  • The first Happy Meal was called a "Menu Ronald."

The first McDonald's franchise opened its doors in 1955, and the chain has since become one of the most iconic food brands ever.

However, from who invented the Big Mac to how many McDonald's burgers are sold every second, these facts about McDonald's burgers might surprise you.

The first McDonald's restaurant, before it became the chain it is today, wasn't primarily a burger restaurant.

ray kroc
Founder and chairman of McDonald's Corporation, Ray Kroc, stands outside one of his franchises, holding a hamburger and a drink.Bettman/Getty Images

According to McDonald's, in 1954, a Multimixer milkshake machine salesman by the name of Ray Kroc came across a small restaurant in San Bernardino, California, run by the McDonald brothers.

They opened the location in 1940, according to McDonald's. The very first McDonald's Bar-B-Q menu was large and its most famous offering was hot dogs. However, in 1948, the McDonald brothers switched the concept to become a burger restaurant and reduced the restaurant's offerings to just nine items: hamburgers, cheeseburgers, soft drinks, milk, coffee, potato chips, and a slice of pie.

In 1949, potato chips were swapped with french fries and McDonald's began selling milkshakes.

Due to the restaurant's self-service counter, there was no need for waiters or waitresses. Burgers were cooked ahead of time, wrapped in paper, and kept warm under a heat lamp, which meant customers received their food in record time.

Amazed by the efficiency of the restaurant, Kroc wanted in. He went on to become the first McDonald's franchise agent and the founder of the McDonald's Corporation, according to McDonald's.

In 1948, you could get a McDonald's burger for just 15 cents.

mcdonalds old
On the sign is "Speedee" McDonald's original chef logo.David McNew/Getty Images

At the original McDonald's locations, before Ray Kroc revolutionized the company and founded what we know as McDonald's today in 1955, a burger cost just 15 cents, according to McDonald's.

McDonald's has reportedly sold hundreds of billions of burgers during its years in operation.

mcdonald's employee burgers
A McDonald's employee preparing burgers.Nir Elias / Reuters

From the beginning, McDonald's has touted its burger sales in its advertising. Mother Jones reported that in 1955, McDonald's claimed that it had sold over 15 million burgers — this was just seven years after the McDonald brothers closed their barbecue stand and reopened it as a burger joint.

Today, it's estimated that McDonald's has served billions and billions of burgers, with the Wall Street Journal estimating the chain sold its 300 billionth burger around 2013.

The first Big Mac sold for 45 cents.

big mac 1977
Product shot of a McDonald's Big Mac hamburger in 1977.Henry Groskinsky/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

According to McDonald's, the first Big Mac-esque sandwich was created by owner and operator Jim Delligatti of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1967, but it wouldn't be released nationwide until 1968.

It included two beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on a sesame-seed bun, The New York Times reported after Delligatti's death in 2016.

Esther Glickstein Rose, a 21-year-old secretary for the company's advertising department in 1967, came up with the "Big Mac" name.

big mac
McDonald's Big Mac.AP Photo/Diether Endlicher

The Associated Press reported that she came up with the name on the fly when an executive running to a board meeting asked for a name nomination for the company's new burger. The name "Big Mac" stuck and went on to become one of the best-known product names of all time.

However, it wasn't until 1985 that McDonald's Corp. finally recognized Rose had come up with the name.

McDonald's sells roughly 75 hamburgers every second.

McDonalds coronavirus employee mask
A McDonald's employee handing a customer their bag of food.Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty Images

USA Today reported that the company sold roughly 75 burgers every second in 2013, or 4,500 burgers every minute.

A simple hamburger from McDonald's can be a good source of protein.

McDonald's hamburger
McDonald's hamburger.Andrew LaSane

According to the nutritional info listed for a McDonald's hamburger, it contains 25% of your daily value of protein. While McDonald's food in general may not be healthy for you in excess, there are some menu items that are healthier than others in moderation.

"The plain burger is only 250 calories," dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix told Taste of Home in 2019. "Plus, in comparison to other menu items, the sodium here is relatively reasonable."

The first Happy Meal, which included a hamburger, small fries, and a small sundae, was called a "Menu Ronald."

happy meal
This October 13, 2010 photo shows a McDonald's Happy Meal complete with a "Star Wars" toy.KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

The original idea for the Happy Meal is said to have come from a McDonald's employee in Guatemala named Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño. Fernández de Cofiño developed the meal deal to cater to kids visiting her restaurant.

In 1979, McDonald's rolled out its first Happy Meal nationwide. The first one was circus-themed. McDonald's advertising executive Bob Bernstein introduced the idea to swap the small sundae for a plastic toy.

In 2021, McDonald's announced the chain would begin phasing out plastic toys from its Happy Meals in an effort to be more environmentally conscious.

"Making our toys out of renewable, recycled, or certified materials will result in about a 90% reduction of fossil fuel-based plastic in Happy Meal toys [compared with 2018]," McDonald's said in a statement to NPR.

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