Pop Quiz: What happened this day in 1955?
Well yes, this is the day that Abraham Lincoln died from a mortal wound inflicted by a vampire he was hunting (what? Didn’t you see the film). Oh, okay then. He was killed by an assassin’s bullet, fired by the infamous John Wilkes Booth. I’m guessing this was also the day that someone slapped his palm to his head and said, “We need a Secret Service to protect the President, the most important man in the whole wide world” (and if you miss the irony, you need to go back and read King & Lion).
But that’s not the monumental event to which I’m referring (Did you see that? I didn’t split my infinitive. That would be painful).
Yes, you are right in that it was on this day a mere 82 years after Lincoln’s death and his groundbreaking strides with the Emancipation Act to end slavery that Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier in baseball. The speed of progress is astounding, isn’t it? But as monumental an achievement as that was, that’s not the big news of the day.
Next? You there at the back?
Yes, this was indeed the day that the unthinkable happened and the unsinkable happened. And so this was the day that ultimately led to the unspeakable happening when we discovered that Celine Dion’s Heart Will Go On (and on, and on, and on). We were, however, treated to the delightful view of a young Kate Winslett reclining nude for Jack Dawson’s pencil (and the later scenes in the Rolls where he demonstrated that he did in fact have lead in said pencil). But no, that’s still not the most monumental event that occurred this day.
Do you need a clue?
There. Now you have it. The most iconic trademark in America. From personal experience I can tell you that a two year old can recognise the golden arches. I tell you, it’s fascinating to research the paranoia behind the Golden Arches. This blogger suggests that the arches are secret symbols of sodomy, with the arches representing male buttocks (why not female buttocks, I ask?). He (I’m assuming he, given the fixation on sodomy, but as we all have an asshole, maybe not), also finds reference to masonic ritual. I guess you can read anything into anything if that’s what you want to see. Someone else found it to be a gateway (watching too much Stargate if you ask me). I’ve seen reference to a nourishing pair of breasts too. Mother’s milk at McDonald’s. Hmmm…. And yet, as always, the truth is mundane. and too boring to waste time with here.
So the answer to the Pop Quiz is indeed that on this day way back in 1955, a mere 90 years after Abe’s final curtain and just 8 short years after Jackie pitched up for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Ray Kroc took the name and the idea for a fast food burger joint from the McDonald brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald, and opened the first ever McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois. Within three years they’d sold 100 million burgers. One hundred million burgers. Had they sold a burger a day, their first burgers would have been sold to Neanderthals (and many would say, they still are today). With the advent of the fast food restaurant, Ray Kroc may well have launched an obesity crisis, but look what he did for the health care profession, creating countless new jobs to care for the chronically overweight. I always found it incredibly ironic, and a triumph of capitalism over common sense, that McDonalds is a major sponsor of the Olympics.
But you do have to give the scary clown some credit. McDonalds is the ultimate symbol of process excellence. Their product is the same worldwide. No matter what you think of it, a Big Mac is a Big Mac from Singapore to Shanghai, from San Fran to Seoul. Their commitment to conformance is unrivaled in any industry I’ve encountered, and is a model to many looking to provide consistent service standards to their customers.
So hats off to Mr Kroc, whether indeed your arches are a secret code for sodomy, an alien gateway, the strangest shaped breasts ever, or merely a play on the M, you gotta say, Da Da Da Da Da, I’m lovin’ it.