My mother tells me that, as a small child, I would look at my parents, older siblings, or guests, as they drank from bottles of Coke, and I’d reach for their bottle. To fulfill my request (or most likely to shut me up) she would take an empty bottle and put water in it. I would then guzzle it with gusto (not realizing it was devoid of color or flavor).
I don’t know exactly when I had my first taste of Coke, because back in those days (early 60’s), concentrated Coca-Cola syrup was sold in pharmacies as a treatment for stomach aches. I remember the big brown bottle well, and I’m sure I faked many a stomach ache to get those ‘two tablespoons of syrup over crushed ice’ that my mother would concoct for me.
I remember distinctly, when I was about 4 years old, getting a toy Coke dispenser as a gift from my grandfather. Even though there wasn’t much concern back then regarding the drinking of soda, my mother would only let me have a glass once in a while, and by ‘a glass’, I mean the miniature Coca-Cola glass that came with the machine.
To this day, Coke is, by a longshot, my favorite drink. Yes, I do drink other colas, but I can tell the difference. In fact, one day my nieces, trying to prove me wrong, filled three cups with cola and asked me to identify which one had real Coke in it. I tasted all three, then pointed to each cup in order and said, “Pepsi – Coke – and a mixture of both!” And I was right!
But I don’t mind variations. I liked C2, didn’t mind ‘New’ Coke, can bear Coke Zero, but won’t touch Diet Coke. What is that stuff?! Tastes nothing like Coke. And the new one, Coke Life, is pretty good. I’d love to try the one they have in South America, with the bottle made of solid ice that they sell on beaches! What an idea. Coke, please bring that to New England beaches…and DisneyLand/World!
When I’m writing one of my scripts or novels, and find myself facing a long writing session (or facing writer’s block), I pour myself a tall glass of Coke, over as much ice as the glass can take, and place it next to my laptop. Like Pavlov’s dogs, the craving starts, but I tell myself I won’t have any until I type a few paragraphs. Works every time!
Now, regarding the photos above. The original one on the left was taken on November 5, 1962. That means I was 1 year and 9 months old. My brother (10 yrs. old) is standing behind my mother. On May 24th, 2015, a niece took the second photo.
So that’s my story (and I’m sticking’ with it!). Please feel free to take the poll below.
Mayor McCheese. The Hamburglar. Grimace. And of course, Ronald McDonald. The mere mention of these characters invoke wonderful memories of my childhood, when my family would pile into the car and head out for our monthly meal at McDonald’s. This was around 1966, and we had to drive a few towns over to get to one, as this was before the Golden Arches spread to every nook and cranny across the country (and the world). And even today, when I hear the words ‘hamburger and french fries’ I immediately think of McDonald’s. In my mind, they practically invented two of my favorite foods.
So it is with a heavy heart that I read the current news about McDonald’s. Some people ask ‘how can it be saved?’, ‘how can they compete?’, and when I see what McDonald’s has turned into, and I’m talking just about the architecture of their buildings today, I have to admit that I don’t even know what a McDonald’s is anymore. I mean, look at the pictures above. On the left is Ray Kroc’s first McDonald’s franchise. It has a distinct look. Now look at the middle photo, of a current McDonald’s building. What the heck is it? A Panera? A Chipolte’s? I don’t even recognize the brand anymore. Luckily, some franchises still have the original ‘look’, as evidenced by the building on the far right.
I don’t get it. McDonald’s has a rich history they could be flaunting. They are like the original Johnny Rocket’s. Yet they don’t play up that angle at all. Now I understand that things change and evolve. But what if Mickey D’s went back to their roots; concentrated on making great burgers, real ice-cream shakes, and those fries that can’t be beat. Okay, throw in McCafe and all day breakfast, they are big sellers. But do something, have something, that makes McDonald’s unique; a destination, perhaps.
One of my favorite hamburger joints is Beaches and Cream at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Looks like a 1950’s diner (though I wasn’t around then to ever see one!). You can sit at the counter, watch your hamburger or ice cream shake/float being made, and the place is packed to the rafters. Are you telling me McDonald’s couldn’t do this with the right strategy?
I realize to make a successful change, many things need to be addressed; prices, food quality, service, menu options, etc. So this post is just about the ‘look’. If we can draw enough people to the blog, we’ll have future posts about the other aspects of its business that McDonald’s will need to address. Vote below and please leave your comments.