What Hamburgers and Milkshakes Cost at McDonald's in 1955

Library of Congress
Library of Congress / Library of Congress

Today’s an exciting day for Americans—and not because it's tax day. Sixty years ago today, Ray Kroc opened his first-ever McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois.

McDonald’s existed before then—it was founded by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald (surprise), who accepted milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc as a franchisee after he was impressed with their sales. But it was Kroc’s McDonald’s that became a worldwide sensation.

Kroc took out an ad in the Des Plaines Journal touting 15-cent hamburgers, 19-cent cheeseburgers, and 10-cent french fries and sodas. The new “fast food” concept (and maybe the allure of “plenty of free parking”) proved to be immediately successful—Kroc made $366.12 the first day. That’s a lot of 15-cent hamburgers.


You can still check out that original restaurant in Des Plaines, but don't expect to place an order there. The location was fully operational until 1984, when it was demolished and rebuilt from scratch using the original blueprints to create a museum. Why not just build a museum from the actual building? The original had been remodeled several times and was no longer faithful to the 1955 plans. If you want to imagine what it was like to wash down a 15-cent burger with a 20-cent shake, the McDonald’s #1 Store Museum is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day—and if you crave the real thing, visit the functional store across the street.