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culture

Vintage Toronto Ads: McLower Prices at McDonald’s

As it established itself in Toronto, a growing burger giant passed on its savings to customers.

Source: the Telegram, November 6, 1970.

Portrait of an early Canadian McDonald’s location, courtesy of the Globe and Mail:

You won’t find a cigarette machine or a pay phone in a McDonald’s drive-in restaurant, because they don’t want you to stop there for purposes other than eating. The store manager orders your food put on the grill when your front wheels touch the parking lot, not when you place your order. He decided what you will be eating on the basis of projections from previous periods. The cooked hamburgers, cheeseburgers and fish sandwiches are put in heated holding bins. If you and your fellow customers in the restaurant vary your orders from past averages enough that a hamburger is in a bin longer than 10 minutes, it is thrown out.

With ever-growing sales spurred by a price drop and rapid expansion, what difference did a few tossed-out burgers make?

Store managers proudly donned their paper hats in ads like this one, to announce that, as a result of lower supply costs, prices were dropping on most menu items by up to 10 cents.

McDonald’s Canadian operation—which launched in Richmond, British Columbia in 1967 and debuted in Toronto a year later at 3777 Keele Street (now a KFC/Taco Bell combo)—was initially forced to import nearly all of its food and supplies, because Canadian companies weren’t convinced that the chain would ever meet its projected sales volumes. By 1970, McDonald’s had found local suppliers willing to meet its financial terms. It dropped Canadian menu prices to match those at locations south of the border.

The new prices worked. In the 10 Canadian stores that were open as of January 1970, sales were 52 per cent higher a year later. Those numbers widened the smile on Ronald McDonald’s painted face.

Additional material from the February 10, 1971 edition of the Globe and Mail.

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