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The world's largest chain of fast food restaurants that serve around 68 million customers each day in 119 countries began operation in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant run by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald at 1398 North E Street at West 14th Street in San Bernardino, California. The original restaurant was named "McDonald's Famous Barbeque" and served over forty barbequed items.
In October 1948, after the McDonald brothers realized that most of their profits came from selling hamburgers, they closed down their successful carhop drive-in to establish a streamlined system with a simple menu of just hamburgers, potato chips, and orange juice. The following year, French fries and Coca-Cola were added to the menu. This simplified menu and food preparation using assembly line principles allowed them to sell hamburgers for 15 cents, or about half as much as at a sit-down restaurant.
In 1953, the McDonald brothers began to franchise their successful restaurant, starting in Phoenix, Arizona and Downey, California; the latter is today the oldest surviving McDonald's restaurant. In 1954, the McDonald brothers licensed Ray Kroc, a seller of Multimixer milkshake machines, to setup McDonald restaurants throughout the country. Subsequently a new restaurant was opened in Des Plaines, Illinois, near Chicago, on April 15, 1955, the same day that McDonald became a corporation. The company usually refers to this as The Original McDonald's as it marked the beginning of the phenomenal growth of the most popular fast food franchise in history.
Both McDonalds at San Bernardino, California and Des Plaines, Illinois, now houses replica museum with exhibits such as the original fry vats, milkshake Multimixers, which Kroc had sold when he first encountered the San Bernardino McDonald's restaurant, soda barrels and grills, attended to by a crew of male mannequins in 1950s uniforms. Visitors can walk in through the back, or peek through the order windows in front. There is also a collection of vintage ads, photos about McDonald's history.