Remember This Philosophy If You Dare to Bite Into a Big Mac

In 1958, Ray Kroc said the following to the McDonald brothers:

“We have found out, as you have, that we cannot trust some people who are nonconformists. We will make conformists out of them in a hurry. Even personal friends who we know have the best intentions may not conform. They have a difference of opinion as to various processing and certain qualities of product….You cannot give them an inch. The organization cannot trust the individual; the individual must trust the organization [or] he shouldn’t go into this kind of business.”

And that’s just what Kroc that of his franchise operators. His customers (meaning you) are another story.

Found in John Love’s McDonald’s: Behind the Arches, New York: Bantam, 1986.


  1. I think what’s scarier about this quote is Eric Schlosser’s assertion in his book “Fast Food Nation” that the empires of McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast food operations were started by people who were rugged individualists and non-conformists of the highest order!

  2. Well, I think Schlosser has a point too. From what I’ve been able to tell, Kroc had an elitist-right-wing libertarian philosophy — in that, he was a self-made man who worked extremely hard. It seems that he felt if others couldn’t get with the program, then they should do his bidding. Kroc certainly believed in meritocracy. But let’s not forget how he fleeced the McDonald’s brothers (who did not want to franchise) and viewed colleges and universities as institutions that created “lazy men.”

    A lot of this info’s from the Love book and also there in David Halberstam’s “The Fifties,” which sources an interview with Dick McDonald and others. And in fact, that’s where I got the lead on the Love book and the quote. You gotta love footnotes. 🙂

    I’ve been reading up on the ideologies behind businessmen largely for research purposes. But I’m also fascinated by how actions and decisions are influenced, even in the smallest ways, by ideology. Part of this has a lot to do with my concerns about current priorities and national direction. But a lot of this, much like my reading challenge last year to read “Atlas Shrugged” in full despite disagreeing with most everything in it, is also an effort to understand ideologies without completely demonizing them. Better to have a more complete portrait of what you’re railing against than to resort to a silly cartoonish last resort.

  3. Have you ever read George Plimpton’s “The X Factor”? It is a hilarious read, all about Plimpton’s attempts to discover that undefinable quality that makes successful athletes and businesspeople successful, all before a horseshoe rematch game with George H.W. Bush.

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