Food Franchises in the 1950s

by Jessica Jewell ; Updated September 28, 2017

Dunkin' Donuts signage hangs in a restaurant window September 7, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois.

Tim Boyle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In 1950s America, the production and consumption of food changed dramatically with the onset of food franchising and fast food. From the first franchised McDonalds restaurants in California to the franchising of pizza, chicken and even ice cream establishments later in the decade, the 1950s can be viewed as a time that heralded the franchised restaurant model that is still visible in America today.

Ray Kroc's Expansion of McDonald's

McDonalds was one of the first restaurants to become widely franchised in the United States. Though it opened in 1940s in California, Ray Kroc, a milkshake mixer salesman, gained permission from the McDonald brothers to franchise the restaurant outside of California in 1954. In just four years, the restaurant had sold over 100 million hamburgers.

Dunkin' Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts is now the world’s largest coffee and baked goods chain restaurant. Originally called Open Kettle, it was was founded in 1948 by Bill Rosenberg in Quincy, Massachusetts. Four years later, he owned a total of five Dunkin’ Donuts in Massachusetts and in 1955, the company licensed the first Dunkin’ Donuts. At the end of the 1950s, Bill Rosenberg founded the International Franchise Association, which. as of 2010. included over 800 franchisers and 30,000 franchisee members, which accounts for more than 50 percent of all retail business in the United States.

Kentucky Fried Chicken

While founder Colonel Harland Sanders opened his original restaurant, The Sanders Court & Café, in 1930, he did not actively franchise what would come to be named Kentucky Fried Chicken until 1952. Colonel Sanders awarded the first franchise to Salt Lake City’s Pete Harman, who agreed to pay Colonel Sanders five cents for every piece of chicken sold. As of 2010, there are Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in 80 countries and territories around the world.

Pizza Hut

In 1958, in a small university town in Wichita, Kan., two brothers, Dan and Frank Carney, borrowed $600 from their mother and opened the first Pizza Hut. By the end of the decade the first franchised Pizza Hut opened in Topeka, Kansas, and within 12 years, over 1,000 Pizza Huts opened throughout the United States. As of 2010, Pizza Hut is the largest pizza restaurant franchise in the world.

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About the Author

Jessica Jewell is a writer, photographer and communications consultant who began writing professionally in 2005. Her chapbook, "Slap Leather," is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Her recent work has appeared in "Nimrod," "Harpur Palate," "Copper Nickel," "Rhino," "wicked alice," "Poetry Midwest" and "Barn Owl Review." Jewell was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University.