By Faye Gaston

Union Springs, a small city of 3 to 4,000 residents, has a McDonald's. This must be an amazing feat for such a small city. McDonald's offers convenient and economic "fast food" for busy lifestyles.

McDonald's golden arches are among the most recognizable logos in the world, two giant half-circles. Two McDonald brothers installed the first franchised restaurant when it opened in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1953. McDonald's is one of the greatest success stories in American history.

It has grown into a multi-billion dollar company with thousands of locations. In 2017 it had 37,241 restaurants worldwide, the second-largest chain store in the world. In 2018 it had 14,000 restaurants in the United States. It is required that facial masks be worn inside beginning August 1, 2020. It is permanently closing 200 of its U.S. locations this year. Restaurants in Walmart stores make up over half the closures.

Happy Meals for one dollar made its debut in 1979 and is still a popular staple. They contain a toy. The "Motley Fool" stated that Happy Meals made up 20% of McDonald sales in 2004, and it was the largest toy distributor in the world.

In 2014 the "Atlantic" stated that Happy Meals had codes for e-books instead of toys, and it became the largest book distributor in the United Kingdom.

Folks who saved Happy Meals' toys can make extra cash by selling the late 1990's era McFurbys, Diener Keshi figures from the 1970's and 1980's, Monster, Inc toys, and full sets of minions toys or 101 Dalmations.

In 2018 McDonald's vowed to "ditch one-time-use plastic drinking straws" that are bad for the environment. One thousand three hundred sixty-one locations replaced plastic straws with paper ones. The UN estimates that unless something major is done, by 2050, the seas will contain more plastic than fish.

The clown, Ronald McDonald, was the face of McDonald's for decades. In 2011 there was a major push to retire him. Petitions said he was used for marketing unhealthy fast food items to kids (high in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar, and salt). He was officially retired in 2016 when the "world started seeing people dressed as creepy, threatening clowns everywhere." He makes occasional appearances in the Thanksgiving Day parade and Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Participating McDonald's will serve its first celebrity meal in over 30 years with the Travis Scott (rapper) $6.00 meal, starting September 8, 2020, through October 4, 2020. In 1992 there was a Michael Jordan meal.

"Business Insider" reported that start-up costs for a Mcdonald's franchise range anywhere from $958,000 to $2.2 million that include construction, kitchen equipment, and signage. Franchises are to pay 40% of that with non-borrowed cash. There is a $45,000 franchise fee and 4% of gross sales every month, along with rent and upgrades.

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