Blue jeans, cowboys, McDonald’s. When it comes to American cliches, perhaps none have proved more resilient — or more influential throughout the world — than the fast-food chain with the golden arches.
McDonald’s largely shapes how the rest of the world sees America. With 33,000 stores around the globe, McDonald’s has a presence in almost every country, even every city, with numerous restaurants in each locale. It’s like a chubby Alexander the Great. But instead of rejecting its conquered’s characteristics, McDonald’s reinterprets them into its own style, coming up with hybrids like the McKebab, McShawarma or McCurry plates.
Founded as a food stand called “Airdrome” in Monrovia, California, 1937, McDonald’s was just a little West-Coast chain with a quick, efficient manufacturing procedure. Yet almost from the start, it emphasized coherent features of design: the yellow rounded “M” signs and the modernistic arches, along with dominant red-yellow color schemes for the interior, exterior, and packaging design. These were all post-modern touches invented way ahead of their time. Only later were they studied by such intellectuals like Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.