Golden Arches

Golden Arches
The Golden Arches used on the exterior of the Times Square McDonald's restaurant.

The Golden Arches are the symbol of McDonald's, the global fast-food hamburger chain. Originally, real arches were part of the restaurant design. They were incorporated into the chain's logo in 1962, which resembled a stylized restaurant, and in the current Golden Arches logo, introduced 1968, resembling an "M" for "McDonald's".



The third McDonald's restaurant in Downey, California, which opened in 1953, is the oldest existing McDonald's. It was the second restaurant to feature the Golden Arches design, which was introduced earlier that year with the second McDonald's in Phoenix, Arizona.

The arches were introduced in 1953, when Richard and Maurice McDonald were building their first franchised outlet in Phoenix, Arizona. Architect Stanley Meston designed a walk-up hamburger stand with red and white tiles and a distinctive sloped roof, but Richard, wanting more visual appeal, sketched a pair of stylized yellow arches, one at each side. Meston accepted other changes but rejected the arches; in the end, sign-maker George Dexter was hired to construct the arches.[1] When viewed from an angle, the two yellow arches design was reminiscent of the two loops forming the letter "M" for McDonald's. A sign out front incorporated yet a third yellow arch along with the chain's signature character, a chef named Speedee.

In 1962, seeking to upgrade its image, the company sought a new logo. Fred Turner sketched a stylized "V", but the company's head of engineering and design, Jim Schindler, extended the "V" into an "M" resembling a McDonald's store viewed from an angle, with a red isosceles trapezoid "roof" serving as background for lettering.[1]

While McDonald's dropped the physical arches from nearly all of its restaurants in the 1960s, the Golden Arches have remained in the logo, and as a commonly understood term for the company. All McDonald's stores and commercials in Canada have a maple leaf in the middle of the Golden Arches.

A "retro" McDonald's in 2006
The McDonald's in Sedona, Arizona has turquoise arches. They are not yellow because the city thought they would mesh poorly with the surrounding red rocks. The first color McDonald's offered was turquoise which the city accepted.

They have also been seen more broadly as a symbol of capitalism or globalization, since they are one of the more prominent American corporations that have become global in their reach (along with Coca-Cola and Nike).

The Golden Arches theory

McDonald's flagship location, known as the Rock N Roll McDonald's, in Chicago has an extra set of Golden Arches on its drive through.

In his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas L. Friedman proposed The Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention, observing that no two countries with a McDonald's franchise had ever gone to war with one another, a version of the democratic peace theory. The argument goes that when a country has reached an economic development where it has a middle class strong enough to support a McDonalds network, it will not be interested in fighting wars anymore. The theory was false as soon as it hit print, as the United States invasion of Panama was one of the first such conflicts. Shortly after the book was published, the NATO bombing of Serbia again proved the theory wrong, though in a later edition Friedman argued that this exception proved the rule: the war ended quickly, he argued, partly because the Serbian population did not want to lose their place in a global system "symbolised by McDonald's" (Friedman 2000: 252–253). Friedman framed this theory in terms of McDonald's Golden Arches "with tongue slightly in cheek" (Friedman 2005). Recently, Friedman has updated the theory with the Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention (Friedman 2005). In 1999, McDonald's host countries India and Pakistan fought a war over the Kashmir Border. Though the war was not fought in all theatres (such as Rajasthan and Punjab borders), both countries had moblised their military all along the border and both countries also flaunted their nuclear capabilities. At least two wars between McDonald's hosting nations have occurred since the NATO bombing of Serbia: the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon; and the 2008 conflict between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia.

See also


  • Friedman, Thomas. (2000) The Lexus and the Olive Tree. New York: Anchor Books.
  • Friedman, Thomas. (2005) The Guardian, 21 April 2005.

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