On January 19, 2007, Beijing, China, the capital city of the planet’s most populous nation, gets its first drive-through McDonald’s restaurant. The opening ceremony for the new two-story fast-food eatery, located next to a gas station, included traditional Chinese lion dancers and a Chinese Ronald McDonald.
Fast-food chains from foreign countries first came to China in 1987, with the opening of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. The home of the Big Mac and Happy Meal arrived in China three years later. In 2005, McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast-food chain, launched its first drive-through restaurant in China, in the city of Shenzhen in Guangdong province, near Hong Kong. The Beijing drive-through was McDonald’s 16th Chinese drive-through.
McDonald’s opened its first drive-through in the U.S. in 1975. Before there were drive-throughs there were drive-in restaurants, where customers would place their orders at curbside speakers. Servers known as carhops, who often wore rollerskates, then would bring food orders directly to customers’ cars. Standard drive-in fare included hamburgers, hotdogs, root beer and milkshakes. Drive-ins reached the height of their popularity in the 1950s.