McDonald's 50 billionth hamburger: A media event on 42nd Street

By DON MULLEN, UPI Business Writer

NEW YORK -- It was a media event on 42nd Street.

McDonald's served its 50 billionth hamburger Tuesday and pulled out all the nostalgia stops.


There were scrubbed-face kids in McDonald's uniforms showing the way to the Grand Hyatt's Empire State Ballroom.

There was all the New York media from TV to print to radio. The still photographers alone could bring tears to a p.r. man's eyes.

There were flashy videos on the screen synchronized with all those mega-decibel commerical songs that get stuck in one's subconscious.

Remember that great country-western: 'I've got french fries on my mind'?

Or all those Ronald McDonald film clips from the early Sixties, with Mustang convertibles and wholesome cheer leaders?

But best of all, there was the 50 billionth hamburger. Grilled before your eyes. With amplified sizzles.

And nobody got up and said anything about 50 billion hamburgers laid end to end would reach to Venus. Or would make a lumpy brown carpet covering all the states east of the Mississippi -- with South and North Dakota thrown in.

Everyone was optimistic about the future.

'Our stock is selling for 42 Big Macs,' said Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice Presidcent Jack M. Greenberg.


Ed Rensi, president of MccDonald's U.S.A., whose first job with the company was as a grill man in Columbus, Ohio, was the star performer and cook.

'You're going to see me prepare a magnificent, and I might add, a perfect burger,' he said. 'Fifty billion is a new beginning for McDonald's.'

Rensi introduced Dick McDonald, who with his late brother, Maurice, served the first McDonald's hamburger in San Bernadino, Calif., in 1948.

Rensi reminded everyone that there are 8,000 golden arches in 34 countries serving 17 million customers a day.

He rolled up his sleeves and tied an apron with '50 Billion' printed on the front, joking to McDonald, 'See, Dick, my wrists are still limber.'

'My wife says, 'You watch how Ed does it, you're terrible on the griddle,'' McDonald replied.

Rensi held up the hamburger patty on a silver platter.

'Look at that burger! That's the crown jewel!'

He placed the hamburger on a special grill on stage. To the amplified sizzles came a tremendous drum roll from the next room. Then curtains parted and McDonald's All-America High School Band laid on 'You Deserve a Break Today.'

The smell from the 50 billionth burger cooking wafted over the hungry crowd. A full color picture of the precious patty flashed on a 12-foot by 14-foot screen.


The media actually broke into cheers and applause.

'Would you folks like a quarter pounder?' asked a happy Rensi. 'I get paid by the hour.'

He held up the waiting plate and deftly served up the 50 billionth burger to Dick McDonald.

'My wife says, 'If you spill on yourself, you'll catch it when you get home,'' Dick McDonald said, grinning down at his wife, Dorothy, and taking a manful bite. He didn't spill.

The news folk were served quarter-pounders and California champagne.

'My God,' said a local TV news notable, gazing thoughtfully at the yellow styrofoam box in his hand. 'I haven't had one of these in years.'

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