A few years back someone left a stack of books in our laundry room for people to take and read. Personally, I find that one of the most fun ways to come across books. It used to happen to me when I lived in Brookline fairly often and is how I came about re-reading and owning Fast Food Nation. It’s kind of funny because when I found a stack of free books in San Francisco, the book I decided to take was McDonald’s: Behind The Arches, also fast food related. And yes, I am finally just reading it now.
Love’s book, McDonald’s: Behind the Arches, is essentially a comprehensive history of the McDonald’s franchise. That being said, it can get a little redundant and overwhelming with the details. For instance, a lot of the financial and real estate parts were not interesting to me, so when I was feeling a little bored in those sections, I chose to skim through. I didn’t feel lost or confused when I got to other sections, so to me that was a plus!
What I did find most interesting was the first part of the book about McDonald’s early days and Ray Kroc’s masterminding in the creation of McDonald’s into an early franchise empire. The book focuses on this a lot and given the magnitude of McDonald’s reach in our society, I found its origins interesting. McDonald’s: Behind the Arches also delves into fun things like the origin of the Big Mac and Filet-O-Fish.
It was also interesting to read this book in 2017 from the perspective of 1995, when it was written. The historical information doesn’t change, but some of the facts are outdated, which the reader should keep in mind when reading. I actually kind of enjoyed this because it was interesting to see Love and society’s perspective on the chain from 20+ years ago. McDonald’s has gone through a lot of changes since this book was written and it was interesting to see what life was like at McDonald’s in the early to mid-90’s. I was just a kid then, so to me it was all just Happy Meals and Beanie Babies (although I don’t think the Mini-Beanies were even a thing yet at this book’s publishing).
Overall while this was a fact-filled dense book, it was interesting to read. It’s not thrilling or as scandalous as Fast Food Nation, but it was still interesting. McDonald’s: Behind the Arches is not for everyone, but I’d recommend if you are into non-fiction books and are interested in how empires like McDonald’s are built.