Speed Reads

International Women's Day

McDonald's is making a flashy statement for International Women's Day. History shows it hasn't always had such priorities.

McDonald's is making headlines Thursday for flipping its famous golden arches upside down in honor of International Women's Day (get it, because a reversed 'M' is a 'W'?). While the statement has been criticized for "totally miss[ing] the point of empowering women," history shows that McDonald's is not exactly the exemplar of feminism in the first place.

When McDonald's was founded, for example, it initially didn't even hire women:

Fast-service restaurants in the '40s and '50s were renowned for their carhops — perky young women who delivered trays of food to parked automobiles. But franchise founders Maurice and Richard McDonald held a negative opinion about these jobs: They felt it created an atmosphere where families would be uncomfortable visiting a burger stand populated by obnoxious teen boys ogling employees. [Mental Floss]

When women were finally allowed to work at McDonald's in the late 1960s, the new owner, Ray Kroc, "ruled that female employees be 'flat-chested' and not work the grill since they didn't possess the 'stamina' for such intensive labor," Mental Floss writes.

Then there is the creepy explanation for those golden arches:

While the Golden Arches that formed a swooping "M" were part of McDonald's architecture that made stores easily recognizable, at least one advisor thought they served another purpose entirely. According to the BBC, psychologist Louis Cheskin convinced the franchise to keep the logo in the 1960s because of the "Freudian symbolism of a pair of nourishing breasts." The company wound up taking Cheskin's advice. [Mental Floss]

Yikes. Read more about the unusual ways the fast food joint did business in the '60s here — and McDonald's, maybe go with a different idea next year. Jeva Lange