How the Soviet flag ended up on McDonald’s logo (PHOTOS) (2024)

The U.S. company's desire to win the hearts of Soviet citizens was so great that it placed the Soviet flag on its logo and handed out souvenir badges with the hammer and sickle.

Not long ago, a user on a Russian online forum posted a photo of a McDonald's badge with the Soviet flag. “My father worked at the first McDonald's in the USSR and was given this badge,” he wrote.

How the Soviet flag ended up on McDonald’s logo (PHOTOS) (1)


It turns out that in the first year after McDonald's launched in the USSR, the Soviet hammer and sickle could be seen not only on its employees' badges, but also on its souvenirs and even on the restaurant logo. However, all that lasted for only about a year, and because of this, there are very few reminders of the 'Soviet' period in the history of the famous fast-food chain.

A Red McDonald's

The construction of the McDonald's restaurant on Pushkinskaya Square began in 1988, and on January 31, 1990, it welcomed its first customers. And they were greeted outside by the company's huge logo featuring the Soviet flag, complete with the hammer and sickle.

How the Soviet flag ended up on McDonald’s logo (PHOTOS) (2)

Yuri Somov/Sputnik

The opening of the first McDonald's restaurant in the USSR was quite the sensation! And that’s despite the fact that its prices were not particularly affordable for the average Soviet citizen. For example, a Big Mac cost 3.75 rubles; a Filet-O-Fish, 3.25 rubles; and a hamburger, 1.6 rubles.

By way of comparison: a monthly bus pass in Moscow at the time cost 3 rubles, while a set lunch in a canteen was just 1 ruble. And yet, people spent hours in a queue, just to try the 'capitalist' hamburgers and Coca-Cola. The first visitors were also presented with badges and flags, again with the Soviet flag.

From time to time, online ads appear selling these badges.A few still even have the unique gift sets of four badges in a wooden box. According to the owner of one such souvenir set, they were presented mainly to foreign visitors in the first days after the opening of the first McDonald's and are, therefore, quite rare.

How the Soviet flag ended up on McDonald’s logo (PHOTOS) (4)


The USSR became the 52nd country where McDonald's is present. At the time, the restaurant on Pushkinskaya Square was one of the largest in the chain: it could accommodate up to 700 customers inside, plus another 200 on the summer terrace. On its first day, it received more than 30,000 customers, thus beating the previous McDonald's record, which was set in Budapest (more than 9,000 customers).

How the Soviet flag ended up on McDonald’s logo (PHOTOS) (5)

Getty Images

Tough recruitment

As early as in 1988, an agreement was signed to establish the Moscow-McDonald's company, after which the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper published the company's job applications. Applicants were required to fill out a questionnaire, attach a photo, post it - and wait. In the end, there were some 25,000 applicants for just over 600 jobs. One of the first employees, Elena Vasilieva, recalled how her job interview went: “For example, they asked me what I would do if a customer sitting at my table was in a bad mood? I replied that I would try to distract them, to cheer them up. They asked me about my hobbies, about the books I read. They watched me move, smile. It must have played a role that I spoke English and that I had a university degree. Where did I graduate from? The Mechanics and Mathematics Department of the Moscow State University, where I am a postgraduate student now." She admitted that she did not regret having chosen McDonald's over a career in science: she was paid good money and had a convenient work schedule.

How the Soviet flag ended up on McDonald’s logo (PHOTOS) (6)

Yuri Abramochkin/Sputnik

Indeed, the company paid 2 rubles per hour, which meant that, including bonuses, staff could receive some 300 rubles a month, which was the average professional salary at the time. Furthermore, the first employees were trained in Canada.

Hold on, why Canada?

Although McDonald's is an American company, in the Soviet press, it was presented as a Canadian one. Ironically, the fact is that the first restaurant, indeed, was a joint Soviet-Canadian venture.

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Vladimir Malyshkov (left), Director of joint Soviet-Canadian restaurant McDonald’s, Chairman of the Board, and George A. Cohon, Deputy Director of McDonald’s restaurant.

Yuri Abramichkin/Sputnik

The cover of the May 1990 issue of the Young Technician magazine says that it is a Canadian restaurant, but at the same time, it’s clear that its logo is branded with the Soviet flag. It was precisely because it was a Canadian enterprise that the Moscow McDonald’s got the Soviet flag on its logo.

How the Soviet flag ended up on McDonald’s logo (PHOTOS) (8)

Young Technician magazine/Sputnik

How did this happen? Simple. In those days, the logo of the Canadian McDonald's also had the Canadian flag on it, and the same marketing style was retained for the USSR.

How the Soviet flag ended up on McDonald’s logo (PHOTOS) (9)

Steve White/Global Look Press

In Moscow, the Soviet flag was removed less than a year after the opening of the first restaurant, and for obvious reasons. The second McDonald's restaurant on Gazetny Pereulok, which was built in 1993, already had the usual international logo without any flags.

How the Soviet flag ended up on McDonald’s logo (PHOTOS) (10)


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How the Soviet flag ended up on McDonald’s logo (PHOTOS) (2024)


What is the hidden meaning behind the McDonald's logo? ›

The logo for McDonald's is the golden arches of the letter M on a red background. The M stands for McDonald's, but the rounded m represents mummy's mammaries, acccording the design consultant and psychologist Louis Cheskin.

How did the Soviet Union get its flag? ›

The flag's design and symbolism are derived from several sources, but emerged during the Russian Revolution. It has also come to serve as the standard symbol representing communism as a whole, recognized as such in international circles, even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

What does the Soviet Union logo mean? ›

The hammer and sickle (Unicode: U+262D ☭ HAMMER AND SICKLE) is a communist symbol representing proletarian solidarity between agricultural and industrial workers. It was first adopted during the Russian Revolution at the end of World War I, the hammer representing workers and the sickle representing the peasants.

Why was the Soviet flag red? ›

In the early days of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks considered the Red Banner to be sufficient as a symbol for their ideological commitment to place all authority in the hands of workers and peasants.

What is the secret in the McDonald's logo? ›

Perhaps it was. When in the 1960s McDonald's gave up on Meston's architectural arches, the company nevertheless listened to the American psychologist Louis Cheskin, who had worked successfully for Ford. In Freudian terms, suggested Cheskin, the McDonald's arches symbolised a mother's nourishing breasts.

What is McDonald's changing their name to? ›

The unthinkable has happened. McDonald's is changing their name. But only temporarily. For the time being, McDonald's will take the risky chance of changing their famous “M” to a “W,” and will now be known as WcDonald's all over the United States.

What country still has the Soviet flag? ›

Today, the only former Soviet Union territories that use modified versions of their original Soviet flag are the republic of Transnistria (a state of limited recognition, formerly part of the Moldavian SSR) and Belarus (since 1995).

Who designed the USSR flag? ›

On 9 January 1954, the new national flag of the RSFSR was approved by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR. The flag was designed by artist Valentin Petrovich Viktorov. On 2 June 1954, the description of the flag was included in the Constitution of the RSFSR.

When did Russia stop using the Soviet flag? ›

On December 25, 1991, the Soviet hammer and sickle flag lowered for the last time over the Kremlin, thereafter replaced by the Russian tricolor. Earlier in the day, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned his post as president of the Soviet Union, leaving Boris Yeltsin as president of the newly independent Russian state.

What does USSR stand for? ›

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

What is the Soviet red star logo? ›

The red five-pointed star is a symbol of the ultimate triumph of the ideas of communism on the five (inhabited, excluding Antarctica) continents of the globe. It first appeared as a military symbol in Tsarist Russia. It was then called the “Mars star,” reminiscent of Mars, the ancient Roman god of war.

What are the old Soviet emblems? ›

The emblems of the constituent republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics all featured predominantly the hammer and sickle and the red star that symbolized communism, as well as a rising sun (although in the case of the Latvian SSR, since the Baltic Sea is west of Latvia, it could be interpreted as a setting ...

Where is the Soviet flag banned? ›

Latvia. In Latvia, the perception of the USSR is highly negative due to the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states. In June 2013, the Latvian parliament approved a ban on the display of Soviet and Nazi symbols at all public events. The ban involves flags, anthems, uniforms, and the Soviet hammer and sickle.

Does the Soviet Union still exist? ›

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was dissolved on 26 December 1991 by Declaration № 142-Н of the Soviet of the Republics of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, formally establishing the dissolution of the Soviet Union as a sovereign state and subject of international law.

What flag has a flower in the middle? ›

Chinese provincial flag consisting of a red field (background) bearing, at its centre, a stylized five-petaled white flower with a five-pointed red star in each petal. The flag's width-to-length ratio is 2 to 3.

What is the lore of the McDonald's logo? ›

The iconic golden arches in the shape of an “m” were inspired by the architectural arches that structured the first McDonald's restaurants. In the logo, the arches were ignored until Ray Kroc bought the business in its entirety in 1961. From this point on, the arches stood strong and resolute like the chain itself.

Why is McDonald's logo upside down? ›

The campaign pays homage to a decades-long tradition of including a restaurant called “WcDonald's” in manga and anime.

What does the McDonald's breast logo mean? ›

Cheskin explained that when flipped, the loopy McDonald's “M” looked like a pair of breasts that subliminally attracted customers to the burger joint. The psychology aligns with the Freudian belief that humans are sexually driven.

What is the story behind McDonald's name? ›

Kroc bought the rights to the name and the service from the McDonald brothers.

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