We have more in common than we think.
We have our first American meal in common.
On the first day I came to the United States, I was very hungry, so I went out to find something to eat. I didn’t recognize a majority of the restaurants. However, when I saw McDonald’s, it was the most familiar place I knew, so I decided to go there. After my 26-hour flight, the first thing I ate in the United States was a McDonald’s burger.
I remember my first time coming to the United States from Kenya. We stopped at McDonald’s to get ice cream in Florida on the way to a football game. That was a big thing down south. That’s one of my favorite—and first—memories from McDonald’s.
We have morning McCafé in common.
I’m always on the run: at work, out with my friends, or loading up the car for a weekend of road tripping and camping with my partner. If I need a coffee and Egg White Delight to kickstart my day (whenever and wherever that is), I can always drop by a McDonald’s and be right back on the move.
Working my way through graduate school meant long days and even longer nights. Knowing McDonald’s was open 24/7 meant I could satisfy my sweet tooth and get my caffeine boost anytime I needed to. Now that I’ve completed my studies, trips to McDonald's are just as frequent as my student days…just at more reasonable hours.
We have playtime in common.
I am 91 years old and I still have an excellent memory. I sit here and recall how much I’ve enjoyed watching the kids run around the playground and burst with excitement over their Happy Meal toys. Eating at McDonald’s meant they could make noise, run around, and be themselves; and my husband and I were able to eat in peace!
I remember just running around the PlayPlace at McDonald’s after I finished eating. I was such a bad eater, but my mom always knew I would finish everything (even the apples) so I could just have playtime. That’s what I remember most about when I was younger.
We have reconnection in common.
Kseniya, 29 (right)
We met at college—we were both so homesick! Coming from small towns, it was a little overwhelming, so we’d sneak off and have lunch or a snack at McDonald’s just to be in a familiar cozy place. After graduation, we sort of lost touch for a few years. Then one day, on a really stressful day I popped into a McDonald’s near work to just destress a little and there she was! We reconnected.
Quayonna, 19 (right)
McDonald’s is just one of those places that will never, ever cease to amaze you. It’s as if you are bound to reconcile with a familiar face or kindred spirit each and every single time you enter the turf. The spectrum of people who eat here and work here is certainly wide in range and rather diverse. It truly amazes me every day!
We have our happy place in common.
I remember being most excited to get Happy Meals after school with my sister. Being from Nigeria, any time we asked to go to McDonald’s, my mom would respond with "we have rice at home." So when we did go, it was always a treat. There was nothing more exciting than getting a meal that came with a toy. I love Happy Meals. McDonald’s always reminds me of happy—a happy place with only good memories—I’m always happy with my fries and burger in hand.
When I was growing up, my mother would always buy my sister and I Happy Meals. I loved opening it up and seeing what toy I got, and then I’d immediately start fighting with my little sister over who got the better one. As I got older, I’d let her trade with me so she’d think I was way cooler than I was. The Happy Meals were always our favorite part of McDonald’s.
We have singing in the drive-thru in common.
When you are a drag queen on the go, there isn’t always time to sit and enjoy a meal. Thank goodness that the McDonald’s drive-thru is always readily available, whether it’s before or after a late-night gig. I have many great memories of driving through McDonald’s with a car full of drag queens after a show. One time, I remember singing with the guy who was working the McDonald’s drive-thru! I am very grateful to McDonald’s for keeping drag queens fed all over the world!
Anytime I’m in the car, especially while on my way to McDonald’s, I’m always playing music on the radio. It’s what helps me enjoy the ride. One time, I went through the drive-thru and I had my music on full blast and one of the workers started singing along with me. It was an awesome moment that I’ll always remember.
We have post-game rituals in common.
After basketball practice I love when my dad takes me to McDonald’s. Basketball and McDonald’s is our bonding time. We both love basketball season and we always get McDonald’s on Saturdays.
When I was a kid my dad worked from 3-11 at night, so my mom was in charge of dinner during the week. I played soccer and baseball, so on nights when practice ran late, my mom would take us to McDonald’s on the way home. My brother and I couldn’t have grown up more different, but we still get together at McDonald’s and laugh at all the stories and good times we had growing up.
We have road trips in common.
Mei Lee, 63
When I first started to date my husband, we took a road trip down the California coastline. While on the road, we decided to stop for something to eat at McDonald’s. I had never been to McDonald’s before. He recommended the Filet-O-Fish to me and I really liked it. I still enjoy it to this day.
Sandra, 63 (right)
We have been married for 26 years and have six beautiful children. We loved traveling with the kids and as a family. We’d hop in the car and no matter where we were going, McDonald’s was always on the way. Plus, it was inexpensive, which made it very easy to feed six hungry children on the road.
We have proud parents in common.
When my mom is really proud of me, she always lets me pick whatever I want at McDonald’s. Today, the teacher told my mom about me and Layla. Layla usually sits alone during lunch so today I saw her and decided to talk with her. I think we’re friends now, she’s quiet but she laughed really hard when I told her my stories!
I will never forget the time we won my junior year high school playoff game. My dad took me to McDonald’s after to celebrate and let me order whatever I wanted. Of course, I got more than I could eat, but my favorite item has always been the Oreo McFlurry.
We have strong mothers in common.
My family—my mother, brother, and I—pulled through difficult times. We’d stay at friends’ houses since we couldn’t afford our own home. McDonald’s saved our family by offering my mother a job, and she has been working there ever since 2006. To this day, I can’t thank McDonald’s enough for allowing us to have a financially stable life. It holds a special place in our hearts whenever we think about the opportunities we are fortunate enough to have today.
When I was a kid, my mom was a single mother and she would take me and my brother to McDonald’s every Friday night to get us Happy Meals. It was something we looked forward to every weekend. We’d always get excited about collecting the different prizes inside. I still have some of my toys today."
We have Friday nights in common.
My favorite memory is taking my kids to McDonald’s every Friday night when they were younger. That was the tradition in our family. They loved the cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, and Sprite.
I remember in fifth grade every Friday night, my friends and I would go to McDonald’s karaoke in Chicago. I loved performing, and at the time that was the jump-start to my entertainment career. Fast-forward years later, I’m now talking to millions of people every day on the radio in Los Angeles. McDonald’s isn’t just a place to grab and go, it’s a place full of memories.
We have afternoon pick-me-ups in common.
I went into McDonald’s this past Sunday after my unexpected trip to the thrift store. I have been sneaking in a vanilla cone once a week, wherever I could find one in Chicago. I walked in holding huge suede bed sheets, dishes, and candles (insisting on not needing a bag at the thrift store). I ordered my vanilla ice cream cone, set down all of my items and sat down to eat my cone while I looked out on a calm beautiful fall Sunday. It was a good day.
I’m working on my podcast hoping to make it my main job one day. It’s hard to keep at it sometimes, but I made a little tradition to treat myself to a vanilla shake when things go well. It was actually at a McDonald’s that I came up with a great idea for an episode, so I’m secretly hoping more brilliant ideas will spark here. I’m superstitious like that.
We have taste for adventure in common.
For about three years, I traveled extensively around the world, immersing myself in foreign places, cultures, and foods. As a traveler, it was always nice to see McDonald’s, a familiar sight, when everything else was new to me. Seeing McDonald’s would bring me back to my childhood days of birthday parties at the McDonald’s PlayPlace and getting Happy Meals after school. McDonald’s always reminded me of home even when I was thousands of miles away.
As a traveler, McDonald’s has always been a dependable place for me. I can rely on the comforts of this familiar place in foreign cities around the world, and it’s usually open late. It’s a place of comfort to relax and recollect my sanity before setting out on the tasks to come. And it provides a satisfying meal on a backpacker’s budget. No matter where I am, it’s a reminder of home.
We have date nights in common.
Bernie, 57 (right)
We both live in New Orleans, but I’ve been eating at McDonald’s my entire life! It’s where I’d meet friends, enjoy a fast meal with my family, and now, it’s where I get to enjoy meals with my partner of 13 years. We’ll stop in for lunch, or grab a quick dinner, it’s just a place we come to appreciate each other.
Ramon, 32 (right)
When we first started dating, there was a McDonald’s halfway between each of our houses. It wasn’t uncommon for us to meet at McDonald’s for his-and-hers shakes after work. Now that we’re married, we still meet each other halfway on most of life’s decisions, but when it comes to McDonald’s, we go together.
We have unforgettable memories in common.
Victoria, 36 (left)
As a child, McDonald’s had free breakfast for moms on Mother’s Day. McDonald’s would send a paper heart and a poem to schools and the children would color it and give it to their moms. The joke today is that I took my mom out for breakfast but she had to pay for mine as I had no money. We rode the bus there and we waited in the insanely long line for my mom’s “free” breakfast. Today, my mom suffers with dementia and forgets many things, but that memory is something we always remember and still both laugh about.
My favorite McDonald’s moment was when I was visiting my mom this last November. We went to McDonald’s like we always used to growing up. We both ordered the same thing, an Oreo McFlurry, and we had a lovely time bonding and catching up. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but sometimes those are the moments you remember the most.
We have serving our country in common.
I’m going into the military and knew I wouldn’t be eating “outside” food for a while. This was going to be my last meal before Basic Training, so I thought I had better make it a good one.
I am a disabled veteran, Sergeant First Class Retired. As a veteran, you always look for a place that reminds you of home. This is a place that brings back those memories for me. Thank you, McDonald’s.
We have late night cravings in common.
My favorite McDonald’s moments were coming with my cousins when we were growing up. And now that I’m grown up, I still come here with all of my friends late at night to enjoy the atmosphere and just relax.
I used to get McDonald’s all the time when I was working overnight painting gigs. When I had finished the first round of painting the walls or floors or what have you, it was time to break out the sweet tea and twenty-piece McNuggets. So I have fond memories of McDonald’s connected to doing what I love to do most.
We have after-school rituals in common.
Christina, 40 (right)
My son, Andreas, started Pre-K today, so we’re starting the tradition of coming to McDonald’s on his first day of school. Growing up, I’d go every Saturday after Greek school with my mom. It’s funny, you don’t realize how important McDonald’s is to your family, but for us, it’s time we get to spend together. That’s how I grew up and I want to instill the same beliefs in him. Some families go to the diner. We’ll always go to McDonald’s.
Jamel, 38 (left)
I’m an elementary school bus driver and I usually stop at McDonald’s every afternoon before picking up the kids from school. I’ll get a big iced tea and sometimes I’ll grab something to eat. I remember going to McDonald’s all the time when I was little. Ronald McDonald and the Happy Meals are what I remember most.
We have our workplace in common.
I’m a DJ and I run my own entertainment company, but before we had an office we’d always meet at McDonald’s. Free Wi-Fi. Great coffee. We’d come here for conference calls and meetings and they’d let us stay all day. I still come here to work sometimes, even now that we have our own office. It’s a lot of work running a business, but I work hard because I love what I do.
I used to work at McDonald’s for three years in high school. They had flexible hours and a support program where they’d help you pay for your books. I had a lot of friends who worked with me or who’d come visit me. It was my little hometown-first-time job. There was just a closeness to us all. It was definitely a community. McDonald’s will always remind me of home.
We have first days in common.
First Day of U.S. Citizenship
I became an American citizen today. So, I thought I’d do the most American thing I could think of, which is have a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. I remember when McDonald’s first came to my hometown in England. An American fast food chain coming to a small English town was a huge deal. Before, you’d just eat at pubs or cafes, there was no fast food, so when we finally got a McDonald’s it was pretty magical.
Marigold, 5 (left)
First Day of Kindergarten
It was my first day of kindergarten today. But my dad and I always come to McDonald’s on Tuesdays because my mom works late. My favorite thing is the ketchup dispenser. My dad always gets his own and I like getting my own. I’m not very good at it, but I practice every time I come in and I’m getting better and better at it. We have show-and-tell next week and I’m going to bring in my blue bunny.
We have imagination in common.
The McDonald’s in our town had a PlayPlace and I loved crawling through all those tubes. The twists and turns. It was like a never-ending maze. I wish I could still go in a PlayPlace! Growing up, my parents weren’t big on fast food, they were kinda hippies. So going to McDonald’s was rare, but that’s what made the PlayPlace so special.
My favorite memories were from the PlayPlace. I was always swimming underneath the ball pit pretending I was a shark and then I would pop up like a big monster. I loved doing that. I would eat, and then play, and then eat, and then play some more. The PlayPlace is definitely what I remember the most from McDonald’s.
We have grandmotherhood in common.
I work for Streets and Sanitation. I’m a general laborer. We stop in for lunchtime sometimes and I always get the Filet-O-Fish. I love the fish. But my favorite memories were bringing my kids here when they were little, and now, getting to bring my grandkids.
My daughter is 28 years old, with two kids, and she still loves chicken nuggets just as much as when I’d take her to McDonald’s. And now I get to come with my granddaughters and get them Chicken McNuggets. I’m lucky to get to spend as much time with them as I do.
We have community in common.
All of my friends get together at McDonald’s. Every morning this is where we meet for coffee. We’re all retired now, so we have no other place to go. They have these cafes back in Italy and Greece, where all of the old people go and have coffee and spend half their day talking politics, business, and whatever else—that’s what this place is to us. It’s our cafe. I’ve met some really great friends here, they’re the reason I keep coming back
I’m here every day during the week with my friends. There’s a group of six or seven of us that always get together. We talk about what’s going on in the world, our lives, the past. Some of them are much older than me, but I’ve met some of my best friends here. My favorite memory was when I threw a surprise party for one of the women in our group. She had no idea. We all got here early and when she walked in, she was so surprised. That was a special moment for me.
We have companionship in common.
I am a Senior Box Office Associate at the Aurora Theatre. My favorite part of working there is our staff, we're like family. It’s a wonderfully creative atmosphere and being a playhouse, we like to keep the drama on the stage. I love interacting with new, different, interesting people every night. Theater has a way of attracting some really interesting people. I’m a bit on the introvert side but I like to find folks that I can chat with and discuss interesting ideas with.
One of my favorite things about working at McDonald’s, especially this one, is that we’re a family. Once in awhile, we’ll have disagreements, but at the end of the day we’re always there for each other. I feel like a lot of other place don’t have the same relationships we do. A lot of people come and go, but the ones that have stuck around, stay because they’re family. We rely on each other. We trust each other. We have a bond here that you can’t find anywhere else.
We have memories with our grandparents in common.
My grandpa would take me golfing when I was little. I’d go to his house for the weekend and before we’d play, we would always stop at McDonald’s. He’s the one that taught me how to eat my McDonald’s. Fries first, so they’re still hot. Then you eat your Big Mac. I’m a single mom of 5-year-old twin girls and I’ve passed it down to them too. McDonald’s will always make me think of my grandpa.
My favorite McDonald’s memories are with my grandmother. She visits from Puerto Rico every six months or so, and every time she comes, she wants to go to McDonald’s. In Puerto Rico, they don’t have fries, they have rice and beans or fried plantains, so she likes to see what’s new on the menu. Whenever I’d get out of school, I’d walk her to McDonald’s. She always says she’s going to try something new, but she gets the fries every time.
We have acts of kindness in common.
There’s one moment I’ll never forget. In middle school, my friend came to McDonald’s with me and out of the blue, she bought my whole meal. She paid for my McChicken and a vanilla cone. I don’t know why it’s stuck with me for so long, but I still think about it today. It was amazing. For being so young, it was so thoughtful and kind. I’ll always remember that.
Greg, 57 (left)
One of my most profound McDonald’s experiences was when I was living in LA. I walked into a McDonald’s and noticed a homeless person outside. I didn’t have a lot of money myself, but I ended up buying him a meal. He burst out crying. He hugged me. He was so appreciative. The manager of the store actually saw what I was doing and ended up giving him a gift card. Because I gave back, he gave back. I thought that was really cool.
We have our neighborhood in common.
Erica, 28 (middle)
I grew up in this neighborhood. During the summer, my friends and I would walk up the boulevard and hang out at this McDonald’s. And one of the things I remember most was ordering a milkshake with every meal, and I’d always dip my fries into my milkshake. Now my husband and I live just up the street, but he works during the day, so my mom always comes with us.
I’ve lived in this area my entire life, so I’ve seen this neighborhood change a lot. After church on Sundays, my family would walk up the boulevard and grab a bite to eat at McDonald’s. There used to be a bunch of mom and pop shops that we’d walk into, but now this is one of the only places still here. McDonald’s is one of those places that’s always there, no matter where you are. It’s something you can always rely on.
We have Happy Meals in common.
Aaron, 20 (left)
My parents knew how much I loved the Happy Meal toy cars. One time when I was misbehaving they bought a Happy Meal, brought it home, and wouldn’t let me have it until I apologized for how I was acting. I was so upset, but it didn’t take me long to apologize. I got my Hot Wheels toy and I learned my lesson. I still have all of my Hot Wheels at home.
Richard, 24 (left)
I loved the Happy Meals. I would try to collect all of the toys, especially the cars. I remember having a ton of those. We’d always go as a whole family and we’d play for hours in the PlayPlace. Now, I mostly stop in for breakfast. I work in a research lab and am going to med school soon, so my girlfriend, Rita, and I usually stop in on the weekends for a quick bite to eat.
We have movie nights in common.
Every Thursday growing up, me, my dad, and my brother would go to McDonald’s because my mom had a workout class. He always let us get whatever we wanted, which for me, was usually chicken nuggets. Then, we’d bring it home and have movie night. My dad collects DVDs, so we’d pick one out from his collection. That’s what I remember most. Thursdays we had McDonald’s and Fridays we had pizza.
Growing up, my mom and I would go to McDonald’s almost every Friday night when my dad worked late. Friday nights were our movie nights. That was our lazy time together. I was an only child, so that’s when my mom and I bonded the most. I’m a musician, so I don’t know if I’ll ever end up having kids of my own, but McDonald’s is a part of everyone’s childhood growing up. It’s Americana.