The comparison of the hamburger on the advertising sign with the result on the counter makes the branch manager of the fast food restaurant difficult to explain.

“That's exactly what I'm talking about,” says the customer, who has a submachine gun with him: “Take a look at that, it's something wonderfully juicy to eat.” The guest reaches into the cardboard box: “And now take one Look at this miserable, huddled food. ”The rhetorical question follows:“ Can anyone tell me what's wrong with the advertising? ”

It is a cruel game that the director Joel Schumacher plays with the audience in his 1993 film "Falling Down".

Of course, the guest, portrayed by Michael Douglas, is a psychopath;

he is shot the same day.

Nevertheless, one can partly understand the anger of the man with the submachine gun.

No hamburger, no fries, not even a Coke in fast food restaurants ever looked like the adverts lead them to believe.

This is a promise that is broken every day millions of times around the world as a matter of course - and you have to have the skin of a cattle or be a cynic if you don't want to hold a grudge for this lying behavior.

It was with this restaurant in San Bernadino (California) that the McDonald's brothers started in 1940

Source: picture alliance / Photoshot

Nothing in the cultural history of food attracts as bitter criticism as those restaurant chains that have become companies with billions in sales with the prospect of fast food.

And because McDonald's is the largest, this burger roaster, which opened its original branch in San Bernardino, California, on May 15, 1940, is once again the focus of attention.

This is about more than unfulfilled advertising promises, namely questions of the effects on health, environmental protection and, last but not least, how the company treats its employees.

Some accusations are unfair - especially in Germany, where there are supply contracts with regional providers and internal funding programs.


When the brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald ("Dick & Mac") opened their first "Bar-BQ" restaurant in 1940, the USA was not yet at war, but the promise to be satisfied quickly and cheaply was also in the A much bigger west than it is today.

The Hamburg mince steak was brought to the USA by German immigrants in the 19th century.

The preparation was based on the understanding that it is best to process all parts of a painstakingly raised animal, even if it is at the price of chopping up tough pieces of meat and frying them through.

A cheeseburger for 19 cents: a McDonald's branch in the 1950s

Source: picture alliance / Everett Colle

The big hour for the McDonald brothers struck after the war: in 1948 they introduced a division of labor in the preparation of their meals and switched to serving food at the counter, the so-called Speedee system.

In addition, the franchise principle was introduced in 1953, entrepreneurs run their own branches, but have to take over ingredients, furnishings and marketing from the parent company.

In 1954, the milkshake mixer salesman Ray Kroc approached the brothers to open more restaurants; the efficient way of working had convinced him.

His first own eatery was in Des Plaines.

Franchisees came from their circle of friends - but because some of them were inexperienced in business, they competed with each other, so that economic difficulties arose.


Kroc managed to overcome these problems through more careful planning.

In the following years, the son of Bohemian immigrants gained more and more influence, at the beginning of the 1960s he bought the brothers for 2.7 million dollars.

A lot of money, but only a fraction of what they would have received had they stayed.

Sales of $ 20.8 billion in 140 countries and $ 5.8 billion in profit are in the books for 2020.

Ray Kroc (1902–1984) made the burger a global hunger killer

Source: picture alliance / Photoshot

In the decades up to his death in 1984, the “Hamburger King” Kroc gave the world insights such as “I expect money, like you expect light when you turn on the switch” or “There is so much grace in the gently curved silhouette of a hamburger -Bun - it takes a very special state of mind to recognize that. "

In Germany, the history of fast food began in 1971 in the Munich working-class district of Obergiesing - the McDonald's branch there still exists.

After the collapse of communism, the Big Mac & Co. became a status symbol in Eastern Europe, and this development is currently taking place in China.

It is doubtful whether all the guests who have ever bitten into a burger drove the silhouette of the bun into the branches.


What is certain, however, is that the company has always succeeded in adapting to the zeitgeist with offers such as coffee, salads and vegan burgers.

It will be interesting to see whether this continues to be the case.

The chains do not only have a problem in this country: the hamburger has made it onto the menus of luxury restaurants.

The change in image from cheap food to exclusive pleasure could be dangerous.

Because most of the time, a noble burger looks even better than expected.

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"Assassin" is the first season of the WELT History Podcast.

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