McDonald's: This is how much a burger cost when the fast-food chain first started

From its humble beginnings in the 1940s, to now, McDonald's has maintained a great price range, here's what it is.

McDonald's: This is how much a burger used to cost when the fast food chain first started
© Matt Cardy / Getty_Images
McDonald's: This is how much a burger used to cost when the fast food chain first started

Ever wondered what the world'sfirst ever original McDonald’s restaurant franchise was like? Are you curious as to how the meal price was during the period it hit the market? Throwing back to a simpler time, wherein happy meal toys didn’t mean a thing, where the concept of fast food was brand new, and the service was crisp as its chicken. Ronald McDonald wasn’t the celebrated figure that he is today, and the big mac was like a new alien word.

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Start of McDonald's

McDonald’s as a fast food restaurant franchise wasn’t always the big-time business it has grown to be. Its beginnings date back to the golden years of the 1940s at the time where brothers Richard and Maurice (Mac) McDonald opened a food business in San Bernardino, California, and brands didn't have a www.

But things to a turn when one of its vendors, Ray Kroc, saw the potential in the brand and restaurant chain in the year 1955. Ray Kroc retrieved the brand with first-ever franchise for the McDonald’s brothers. He started the company known as the McDonald's corporation in Des Plaines, Illinois in the year 1955. Things looked bleak for the company at a period, which he retrieved with marketing antics to shine through all these years in the market. And Kroc eventually bought out the brothers and the heart of its customers, which was big news. Even though Burger King and Wimpy came before McDonald’s, McDonald’s gained more popularity year after year with its customers.

McDonald’s as a new business

With fast food booming in the United States, there was a whole new space for the transformation of the food industry. This was big news and gave the iconic golden arches company the time to shine with its amazing menu. Over time, he built the brand with the right marketing strategies, which started from the inception of the golden arches. In the 60s, McDonald’s got a brand ambassador with the legendary clown Ronald McDonald. And the menu featured the big mac, which was a global best-seller among all fast food restaurants.

McDonald’s as a new business Ramin Talaie / Getty_Images

McDonald’s first-ever menu

The first McDonald’s restaurant in San Bernardino, California, had an original menu comprising just nine new items. At the time Ray Kroc first started this chain of iconic fast food restaurants, there was already a promising menu in place, unlike Wimpy burger. Here is what the McDonald’s restaurant started with and how the menu was priced.

Beef hamburger

You cannot go wrong with this original classic, be it chicken or beef. Before the quarter pounder, or happy meal toys, was a thing, McDonald’s focused on crafting items that impressed children and adults. Back in the 1940s, these burgers cost merely 15 cents. Yes, you read that right.


Nothing says happy and satisfied like juicy burgers. Before its quintessential chicken or fish fillet burger came to the market, the tempting cheeseburger hit all the spots when it opened. The price point was great at just 19 cents, beating Wimpy burger. It was cheesy, juicy goodness, in between some fresh buns when it opened. You can add on its golden french fries to complete the burgers. The price for the fries was just 10 cents. And is cheap to this day.

Read also: McDonald's: Here's where you can get the cheapest burger in the world

McDonald's Cheeseburger vladispas / Getty_Images


Today, McDonald’s is known for its drinks. But the first McDonald’s restaurant did drinks that children especially loved. When the McDonald’s brothers first started their restaurants, they started with milkshakes, but Kroc retrieved the drinks options. With home-made root beer, hot coffee, orange drinks, cold milk, and coke, the drinks stood out from other fast food restaurants in the world such as Wimpy.

Drinks picture alliance / Getty_Images

And the rest was history

From its beginning, with brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald’s to the 38000+ outlet chain it is, there is no comparing the McDonald’s-Burger King outlet history. Even today, Burger King has less than half the outlets as McDonald’s in the world. And Wimpy isn't even on the same spectrum. From the first McDonald’s restaurant to the happy meal serving homely icon it is today, Kroc first retrieved the path to something with this much history even to this day. With the help of the right marketing, this chain is more than a business or a restaurant; or a place to find unique toys. It is a symbol of fast food that transcends all borders and is a synonym for 'happy' and is home to all its customers, given its impeccable service.

Sources used:

- Spoon University: 'The 9 Items on McDonald's Very First Menu'

- Britannica: 'McDonald's American Corporation'

McDonald's: This is where the very first restaurant of the fast-food chain opened McDonald's: This is where the very first restaurant of the fast-food chain opened