McDonald's is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, serving around 68 million customers daily in 119 countries across more than 36,000 outlets. Founded in the United States in 1940, the company began as a barbecue restaurant operated by Richard and Maurice McDonald. In 1948, they reorganized their business as a hamburger stand using production line principles. Businessman Ray Kroc joined the company as a franchise agent in 1955. He subsequently purchased the chain from the McDonald brothers and oversaw its worldwide growth.
A McDonald's restaurant is operated by either a franchisee, an affiliate, or the corporation itself. The McDonald's Corporation revenues come from the rent, royalties, and fees paid by the franchisees, as well as sales in company-operated restaurants. In 2012, the company had annual revenues of $27.5 billion and profits of $5.5 billion. According to a 2012 BBC report, McDonald's is the world's second largest private employer—behind Walmart—with 1.9 million employees, 1.5 million of whom work for franchises.
McDonald's primarily sells hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken, french fries, breakfast items, soft drinks, milkshakes, and desserts. In response to changing consumer tastes, the company has expanded its menu to include salads, fish, wraps, smoothies, fruit, and seasoned fries.