On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that 130 McDonald's locations in Japan would be closed due to lagging sales amid food scandals. This is the type of story we're used to seeing about companies, a story where success or failure in a market is tethered to performance. But coverage of McDonald's in particular tends to concern a very different type of story: McDonald's as icon of capitalism.
The fast food chain celebrated its 60th birthday on Wednesday. Technically, it's a few years older, but the company's first franchise location opened 60 years ago this week in Des Plaines, Illinois, by company pioneer Ray Kroc. In Hawaii, for example, franchises offered 60-cent burgers and gave away birthday cake.
One could be forgiven for missing the revelry. Elsewhere in the country, the Fight for 15 minimum wage protests raged, forcing shut McDonald's franchises in places like Denver and Chicago and hosting a die-in outside a McDonald's in Manhattan. And while the Fight for 15 movement included home care workers, adjunct professors, Walmart staffers, and others, the central target for the protests was the Golden Arches.
Here's the tweet that is still pinned to the top of the movement's Twitter page:
There is something about McDonald's that makes it the target of continual protest—more than other fast-food franchises and more than other powerful global moneymaking entities with less-than-sterling reputations for fair pay. (Consider that one-third of bank tellers reportedly live on public assistance and yet no one staged a die-in at a Chase Bank yesterday.)