Kroc, Ray(Raymond Albert Kroc), 1902–84, American fast-food restauranteur and franchiser, b. Chicago. Kroc held several jobs before becoming (1937) the distributor for a blender that simultaneously prepared several milkshakes. Visiting a small but profitable San Bernadino, Calif., restaurant owned by brothers Mac and Dick McDonald, he was impressed by the fast assembly-line fashion preparation of burgers, fries, sodas, and shakes. Kroc acquired the business's franchising rights and in 1955 founded the McDonald's Corp. Six years later he bought out the brothers. Using quality, service, cleanliness, and value as a commercial mantra, and maintaining strict uniformity of product, McDonald's grew quickly, as franchises opened throughout the country and menu items were gradually added. Kroc served as president (1955–68), chairman of the board (1968–77), and then senior chairman until his death. By then, McDonald's had changed America's eating habits, with more than 7,500 restaurants in operation and annual sales topping $8 billion.
See his Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald's (1977, repr. 1990).
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Kroc, (Raymond A.) Ray(1902–84) restaurateur; born in Chicago. A high school drop out, he was an under-age ambulance driver for the Red Cross during World War I, a jazz pianist, a real estate broker during the Florida land boom (1920s), and a salesman for the Lily Tulip Cup Company. In 1941 he formed a company to sell Mult-A-Mixers, which could make five milkshakes at once. In 1954 he visited the San Bernadino, Calif., restaurant of Mac and Dick McDonald who had bought eight Mult-A-Mixers. Impressed by their volume of business and their assembly-style hamburger operation, he proposed a franchise. He sold his Mult-A-Mixer company and by 1960 had 228 McDonald's restaurants with profits of $37 million. He controlled all facets of franchising, even establishing Hamburger University in Elk Grove, Ill., and requiring that all franchise owners attend to learn how to prepare the food. He was chairman of the board of McDonald's Corporation (1968–77) and senior chairman (1977–84). He bought the San Diego Padres in 1974 and established the Kroc Foundation for charitable giving.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.