Monday, 24 August 2015

VINTAGE: The One Golden Arch of McDonalds


America is a great place if, you're like me and love nosing out of the car window at random business and road signs. Neon, huge, spinning, flashing, America has them all. When some of them are on your doorstep you take them a little bit for granted, and I thought it was high time I got around to working out why two of the local McDonald's restaurants signs only had one of the arches in their signs. Plus they look rather vintage - double winner. I got a couple of questions about why the single arch was used when I shared the above photograph across social media, so I thought, why not blog about it. Why not indeed.

To back up a little, the golden arches we associate today with the fast food chain is known globally. But that hasn't always been the case. in 1948, eight years after brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald opened their barbecue resturant, the Speedee character was launched, a character reflecting the Speedee Service System of their production line principles. He was later replaced with Ronald McDonald. Sadly signs featuring Speedee are even harder to find than the single arch, but you can stumble across one in the automotive section of The Henry Ford Museum over in Dearborn (shown below).

So between Speedee and the golden arches during one short interval in 1962, the single arch came about, many featuring a crest design upon the red advertising space. Here in Metro Detroit we are rather spoiled in being home to two (one in St Clair Shoes - pictured, and Warren) of the few remaining. This modernist transitional sign is own back lit (very popular in post World War II USA) and constructed of plastic panels upon a metal frame with the red advertising space midway. 

Sadly with McDonald's popularity, growth, redevelopment, finding early signs is growing increasingly tricky with some suggestions of only around 11* still used for their original advertising intentions, the majority lost to scrap yards or incorporated into private collections.

So there you have it, a little bit of history about that infamous branding you might just happen to pass every day.

* The 11 "known" single crested arches can be found in Lancaster, PA, Magnolia, NJ, Green Bay, WI, St Clair Shores and Warren, MI, Huntsville, AL, Independence, MO, Winter Haven, FL, Velleville, IL, Muncie, IN and Pine Bluff, AK.

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