As Of: April 30th 2010

Hamburgers Sold During April 2010 and Total Until April 30th 2010

McDonald's announced their Systemwide Sales Growth Percentage excluding the impact of foreign currency fluctions and it was 6.4% for the month of April 2010 as compared to the month of April 2009. I know based on previous calculations that the number of hamburgers sold during April 2009 was 1,188,500,041. So if we multiply 1,188,500,041 X 1.064 (the growth rate for April plus 1) I get = 1,264,564,043 Hamburgers sold during April 2010. Then I just add that number to the # of Total Hamburgers sold up until March 31, 2010 1,264,564,043+ 245,359,187,809 = 246,623,751,852 Which Rounds to 247 Billion Sold

Hamburgers Sold During March 2010 and Total Until March 31st 2010

McDonald's announced in their first quarter Earnings call that their systemwide sales growth % excluding foreign currency fluctuations was 8%. Now, in order to calculate the total hamburger sales in March 2010 I need to calculate the systemwide sales growth % for march 2010, we know that January= 4.3% and February= 6.4%, so then with a simple algebra we can figure our March (4.3 + 6.4 + X)/3 = 8.0 therefore X=13.2% for March

Now I take estimated March 2009 sales 1,188,500,041 and multiply times (1 + 13.2%) to get 1,345,682,046 hamuburger sales in March 2010.

Now I just add that to number of total hamburgers sold as of February 28th 2010 244,013,505,763 + 1,345,682,046 = 245,359,187,809 total sold until March 31st 2010

The Purpose Of This Site

Remember when you were a kid and the giant golden arches outside every McDonald's proudly proclaimed how many customers they had served since the beginning of time? Wasn't it fun watching the number go up every so often and getting a special feeling knowing you had contributed in a small way to that number? Then, one day, they just stopped counting, for seemingly no reason at all, and the whole thing raised a lot of questions. What exactly were they counting, and how did they get that number? Why did they stop? What would the number be today if they had continued? This site intends to answer all those questions and more. But most importantly, it is supposed to give people that wish they would keep counting, a refuge. Although the number may not be calculated in exactly the same way that Ray Kroc did it so many years ago, and while it would of course be better ifMcDonald's posted the number on all their signs once again, this site can still take us part of the way back to those days of yesteryear.

How Frequently Is This Number Update

I recalculate the total number of Hamburgers sold on a Monthly basis, once McDonald's releases their monthly sales numbers. So check back frequently, cause the total number is changed once a month.

History Of The Number

Ray Kroc Began posting the number of total hamburgers sold, on it's signs in 1955 when Ray Kroc bought his first McDonald's franchise in Des Plains Illinois. At that time the number on the sign was Over 1 Million Served.

McDonald's Sign Milestones

1955- 1 million (Ray Kroc's first McDonald's opens in Illinois)

1956- 5 million

1960- 400 million

1963- 1 Billion (served by Ray Kroc himself on national tv)

1969- 5 Billion

1976- 20 Billion

1984- 50 Billion

1987- 65 Billion

1990-80 Billion

April 15, 1994- 100 Billion (McDonald's executives announce at the annual owner operator convention that they will stop counting hamburgers served because the count has surpassed the 99 Billion Hamburger mark so all the operators should change their signs to say "BILLIONS AND BILLIONS SERVED" and the signs have remained that way since.

Over How Many Billion Served OF WHAT?

The McDonald's signs that used refer to "Over _ _ Billion Served" were actually referring to hamburgers. It is a common misconception that the signs referred to customers served. The original sign in front of Ray Kroc's first McDonald's said "McDonald's Hamburgers Over 1 million served" McDonald's has also stated many times that the number was meant to refer to hamburger patties and not customers. Therefore, every time you order a Big Mac it is counted as two, since Big Mac's have two patties.

Ray Kroc once explained how he came to that number. He claimed that they kept track of how many pounds of meat was shipped out to all the McDonald's locations in total, so they just divided that weight by the weight of an individual patty, to get the number of patties served that year.

How I Will Calculate An Updated Number Monthly

I will take the newly released monthly systemwide sales growth % and multiply it times the hamburger sales of that same month in the previous year, then i will add that number to the overall total hamburger sales count.

How I Calculated The Number

I first had to assume that McDonald's has always done an accurate calculation in the past of it's total hamburgers served, so when they reached 80 Billion in 1990 and 100 Billion in 1994 (see post on Hamburger Sign Milestones) I believed them. So now I knew that in the 4 years between 1990 and 1994 they had sold roughly 20 Billion Hamburgers, at an average of 5 Billion Per year during that period. (20 Billion/4 Years)= 5 Billion Per year. As  are result I now knew that in the final year of them counting 1994 they sold about 5 Billion hamburgers.

So, I first needed to figure out how many hamburgers had been sold between 1994 and the end of 2009 on a yearly basis. So I needed to figure out what % growth number put out by McDonald's would be closest to the hamburger sales number they had used since the beginning but no longer calculated. I decided the best number to use is a number put out by McDonald's on a monthly basis as well as yearly in their annual report. The number I decided most closely tracked the increase in hamburgers sales was called "Systemwide sales" this number means all the sales of total food McDonald's has sold over the year in all corporate owned and franchised stores, basically every dollar that McDonald's took in from every customer. The company then expresses this systemwide sales number as a % of growth to show how much the systemwide sales has grown since last year. For example on the annual report for 2004 it says that the Systemwide sales increased by 8% since 2003. So all I needed to do, was find the systemwide sales growth rate % Year over Year for every year 1995-2009.

The Systemwide sales growth rates were as follows:
1995- 12%
1996- 8%
1999- 8%
2000- 7 %
2001- 4%
2002- 2 %
2003- 5%
2004- 8%
2005- 5%
2006- 7 %
2007- 8%
2008- 9%
2009- 6%
(These %'s were obtained from the audited annual report of McDonald's for each of the corresponding years which were found on the McDonald's website)

So now that knew the sales growth rates per year since 1995 and the fact that in 1994 they sold 5 Billion hamburgers I just needed to apply that % to 5 Billion hamburgers sold in 1994 to get the hamburger sales for each year. An example of the calculation for the 1995 hamburger sales: 5,000,000,000 x (1+12%)= 5,600,000,000 sold in 1995.

So this is the breakdown of each years hamburger sales based on the growth %'s above per year:
1995- 5,600,000,000
1996- 6,048,000,000
1997- 6,652,800,000
1998- 7,318,080,000
1999- 7,903,526,400
2000- 8,456,773,248
2001- 8,795,044,178
2002- 8,970,945,061
2003- 9,419,492,315
2005- 10,681,704,285

2006- 11,429,423,585
2007- 12,343,777,471

Then all I had to do was add up all those number for hamburgers sold per year since 1994 giving me: 141,509,336,177 hamburgers sold until dec 31st 2009 since 1994.

Then just added that number onto the 100 Billion hamburgers reached when they stopped counting in 1994 to get 241,509,336,177 sold in total until dec 31, 2009.

Now I just needed to use the monthly systemwide sales growth numbers put out by McDonald's for January and February 2010. Now these growth numbers refer to the % change in systemwide sales since that same month in 2009.

So first I needed to know how many hamburgers were sold in January 2009 so I took the total hamburgers sold for 2009- 14,262,000,490 and divided it by the 12 months of the year giving me roughly 1,188,500,041 sold in January 2009. I then found out the systemwide sales growth % YOY for January 2010 which was 4.3% so I applied that growth % to January 2009: 1,188,500,041 x (1+4.4%)=1,239,605,543 the total hamburger sales for January 2010.

Then I did the same calculation for February 2010 when the growth % was 6.4% according to McDonald's: 1,188,500,041 x (1+6.4%)= 1,264,564,044 hamburger sales for february 2010.

Then I just added the two months to the total hamburger sales until the end of 2009: 241,509,336,177 + 1,239,605,543 +  1,264,564,044 = 244,013,505,763 Total Hamburgers Sales Until February 28th 2010

Note: This number excludes sales during the period of April 15, 1994 until December 31, 1994 This estimated total will be added at a later date. For now it is just assumed that McDonald's reached the 100 Billion hamburgers sold mark at December 31st, 1994 (which is technically incorrect)

Note: This calculation assumed that as overall sales at McDonald's increases, hamburger sales increases in direct proportion to those sales, which may or may not be true. (because we no longer have accurate hamburger sales data, systemwide sales growth is a decent replacement) In practice, if during the period of 1994 until today a smaller or larger % of McDonald's overall sales is made up of hamburger sales than during the period between 1990 and 1994 then the total hamburgers sold estimate will be slightly inaccurate. Basically it is assumed that hamburger sales as a % of overall sales has remained constant throughout McDonald's history.

Note: McDonald's actually releases two systemwide sales growth numbers on the annual report and monthly reports. One % includes a currency calculation as the chain does business, and the other attempts to exclude the affects of currency fluctions by only using a constant exchange rate for the period being measured, that based on the average exchange rate of the prior period being compared to. For example for the year of 2009 McDonalds released two systemwide sales growth numbers 6% excluding the foreign currency fluctuations and 2.4% including foreign currency fluctions. I always use the number excluding foreign currency fluctuations because I feel it gives a better idea of what the sales have actually been around the world. If I used the systemwide sales including foreign currency fluctuations, then changing exchange rates would have a huge impact on the overall sales around the world, and i wouldn't be able to accurately figure out how many hamburgers have been sold overall. The excluding foreign currency fluctuation number assumes that the exchange rate has been the same during the prior period, it therefore gives a better sense of what the increased sales have been like. McDonald's has said that they use to excluding exchange rate number to evaluate their performance in foreign markets, because changing exchange rates can have a huge impact on sales numbers.


All of the information on this site is supported by these sites most of which come directly from the McDonald's website: