The McDonald’s Gold Card



Most people have not heard of McDonald Gold Cards, because there are so few. The news story below tells some of the history of such “Gold Cards,” but not the whole story. Most McDonald’s customers are familiar with cards that can be purchased at any McDonald’s in various denominations, and then used as gifts or in any way to be redeemed for food and drink at McDonald’s of the same value. Others have heard of guest cards that might be used by charitable organizations, schools and such as fundraisers, also good for various amounts of food and beverages at McDonald’s.

But when I served as head of corporate communications at McDonald’s in the 80s and 90s, we did encounter at least one  occasion in which a “Gold Card” were authorized by top management. This was the card created for Warren Buffett, at the direction of McDonald’s CEO Mike Quinlan, as referenced below. At the time is was created and about to be presented to Mr. Buffett, we even worked with the regional office covering the Omaha area where Buffett lives and works, to be sure pictures of Mr. Buffett were sent to every area McDonald’s, in hopes that a McDonald’s window or counter person would not refuse the card because he did not know it had really been issued to Mr. Buffett.

One day I was invited by Mr. Buffett to attend an awards dinner at his office for local elementary teachers recognized for excellence, in the name of Buffett’s favorite aunt Alice, who herself had been such a teacher in Omaha. At the table over dinner, one of the award winners asked Buffett if he ever carried any money or credit cards with him. Buffett was amused and said he did, and mentioned an American Express card he carried. But then he interrupted himself and said his favorite credit card was one he never had yet used, and pulled the McDonald’s Gold Card from his wallet and passed it around the table. He said he was honored to have received it, and cherished it, but couldn’t bring himself to request free food at McDonald’s. Unbeknownst to that group, a few years before, Buffett had quietly acquired several million shares of McDonald’s stock, which was the reason behind the award of that card.

While I can’t substantiate it, as I doubt any records support it, I had heard that Jerry Lewis and a few others may have received such cards. McDonald’s was the first and largest charitable sponsor of the Jerry Lewis Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy.

Story from ” Business Insider”:

The real story behind McDonald’s mysterious ‘Gold Card’ — the ticket to unlimited free food that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have in their wallets
by: Kate Taylor

Nov. 13, 2015, 11:15 AM 37,621 3

When Rob Lowe appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live with a golden McDonald’s card on Wednesday, one big question remained: How could the Average Joe get his own card that granted him access to unlimited McDonald’s?

Not easily, a little sleuthing revealed.

The first complication: Rob Lowe’s Gold Card was not issued by McDonald’s corporate office. Instead, it is from the owner of, and can only be used at, McDonald’s franchises in Santa Barbara or Goleta, California.

While Lowe says he received the Gold Card because his buddy’s dad created the McMuffin, McDonald’s confirmed to Business Insider that he in fact received the card from David Peterson — the buddy in question, who is now a McDonald’s franchisee himself.

Herb Peterson, who passed away in 2008, was a legendary force in the fast-food world. He debuted the first Egg McMuffin at the Santa Barbara McDonald’s he co-owned with David in 1972. Peterson started his work with McDonald’s as the vice president of the company’s advertising firm, D’Arcy Advertising, and went on to become a franchisee and operator of six McDonald’s locations.

Today, David Peterson has carried on his father’s legacy with the chain. Earlier this year, the franchises he runs in the Santa Barbara and Goleta areas became some of the first to launch “taste-crafted” sandwiches as part of the McDonald’s turnaround plan, reports local news station KEYT.

herb peterson, mcdonald’s, egg mcmuffinAP Images
Herb Peterson.

Peterson also wields the power to give out Gold Cards, granting the recipient free McDonald’s at the locations he owns and operates. While Lowe is quite likely the most high-profile person to be awarded the card, he is not the first — just the first to brag about it on late-night TV.

For example, Larry Crandell was awarded a Gold Card by Peterson on his 90th birthday, reports While the cards are nearly identical, unlike Lowe’s card, Crandell’s awards him free McDonald’s for life.

Crandell is a bit of a celebrity in Santa Barbara, having reportedly helped raise millions of dollars for the community as a volunteer and expert emcee.

Assuming you aren’t a famous actor who has a personal connection with David Peterson or a local legend in Santa Barbara, California, there are other ways to get free McDonald’s.

In fact, McDonald’s franchisees across the country appear to be more than happy to give local heroes free food with their own versions of the “Gold Card.”

Warren Buffett told CNBC he had a McDonald’s card that allowed him to order unlimited food for free in Omaha. Charles Ramsey, who ditched his half-eaten Big Mac to help rescue three kidnapped women in May 2013, was awarded free McDonald’s at all locations for a year and unlimited McDonald’s for the rest of his life at local Ohio restaurants. In March, Ottawa Senators goalie Andrew Hammond, nicknamed the Hamburglar, received a card that gave him free McDonald’s for life from an Ottawa franchisee who, coincidentally, was also the father of Hammond’s former coach.

However, there are only two major confirmed stories of people in possession of cards granting them free, unlimited McDonald’s anywhere in the country, or even the world.

While on the campaign trail in 2012, Mitt Romney told a story of how his father had a “little pink card” that awarded him free McDonald’s for life. McDonald’s confirmed that founder Ray Kroc had given Romney the card, but did not have any record of the reason for the gift. However, the chain noted that Kroc was known to informally gift these Lifetime “Be Our Guest” cards to various people throughout the years.

The other lucky recipient of a lifetime of free McDonald’s — not a little pink card, but a bona fide Gold Card, according to the company — is Bill Gates. According to Warren Buffett, Gates’ card works worldwide. Of course, it is unclear how often Gates stops by McDonald’s these days, after The Gates Foundation Asset Trust liquidated its position in the fast-food company in February.

Getting your hands on a McDonald’s Gold Card is no piece of cake. But, the legendary cards are real — and something that could end up in your own pocket, if you befriend the right McDonald’s franchisee.

Bruges Fries Rated Tops


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Bruges Frites Rated Tops
December 30, 2015 in Belgium, Culture, Dining, Fast Food, french fries, Travel | Tags: Bruges, Food, frites (Edit)
Bruges Waffles & Frites recently participated in a french fry taste test, the results of which shows them outperforming other restaurant franchises. The study, conducted by an independent research firm, Rise Strategic, hired secret shoppers to participate in the test. The shoppers were tasked with visiting several local restaurant franchises known for their fries and reporting on how the fries are prepared, wait times between ordering and receiving their fries, and the cost of a small order. They were then asked to rate each franchise on a scale of 1-5 in the following categories:
-Overall Flavor
-Exterior Texture
-Interior Texture
-Serving Size
-Variety of Condiments/Sauces
-Flavor of Condiments/Sauces
-Size & Shape
-Overall Rating
When the study was complete, Bruges authentic Belgian frites were shown to have the best overall flavor, best aroma, best presentation, best variety of condiments/sauces, best flavor of condiments/sauces, and were the only fries not under salted and with an ideal consistency. Bruges also had the highest rankings for ideal color, best exterior texture, and won the highest overall ratings.
“We are thrilled with the outcome of the survey results,” said Pierre Vandamme, Owner and co-founder of Bruges Waffles & Frites. “Since the history of fries dates back to Belgium, it makes sense that an authentic Belgian frite company should be topping the charts for best frites in the region. Our fries are not your typical french fry as they are fried twice for the perfect flavor and consistency. Paired with our hand-made dipping sauces, this is a recipe for french fry perfection!”
Shoppers in the taste test said the fries were delicious, presented beautifully, and ‘sooooo good.’ They loved the ambiance, the friendly employees and the fact that the fries were fresh and cooked to order. One shopper said, “It was worth the wait for freshly cooked fries!”
Bruges added Belgian frites to the menu after seeing the success their authentic waffles were having in the community and decided it was time to share another Belgian favorite. Today loyal fans rave about the frites on social media and online review sites. To learn more about the Bruges Waffles & Frites brand, and the restaurant franchise opportunities offered, visit the company website:

No mystery here…


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Why McDonald’s uses 9 ingredients to make french fries

This post by Craig Good originally appeared as an answer to the Quora thread: Why does McDonald’s use 14 different ingredients to make French fries?

The ingredients, taken from McDonald’s web site (Page on are:

canola oil
hydrogenated soybean oil
safflower oil
natural flavor (vegetable source)
sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain colour)
citric acid (preservative)
dimethylpolysiloxane (antifoaming agent)

Since you asked about 14 ingredients, I assume you’ve been reading one of those anti-science, scare-mongering food woo sites where they’re frightened of things they can’t pronounce and, clearly, can’t even count. (I’ll bet they double-counted the oils by not reading carefully.)

What we have here are potatoes fried in a vegetable oil blend. They have been treated with a mild acid to keep them from turning brown, some vegetable based flavoring, and a natural preservative. The ooh-scary dimethylpolysiloxane is also known as simethicone. It’s commonly used in pharmaceuticals, particularly to relieve bloating and belching. Note that means it’s safe to eat in doses far higher than you could ever get in French fries.

So why do they use 14? They don’t. And the ingredients they use are pretty clearly to provide a consistent product in a fast food environment and allow prepped fries to be transported and stored.

Gourmet? No. Scary? Hardly.

From now on I’d steer clear of wherever you read about 14 ingredients.
Read more:

Belgium frites are crisp and wonderful


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Belgians unite in UNESCO bid to reclaim ‘French’ fries

© Kris Van Exel, Belga/AFP | Belgian humorist Herr Seele poses next to the ‘winning cornet’ during a potato fries contest in Antwerp in 2006
Text by FRANCE 24
Latest update : 2014-12-03
Belgians seldom agree about anything, but they all know their country’s unity hangs by a potato thread.

The thread is in fact one centimetre thick, rectangular and fried twice, most often in beef fat. People around the world call it “French fry”. But that, the Belgians say, is a “misnomer”.

The origin of potato fries – or chips, as the British call them – has long been a matter of dispute. Belgians say they invented them, but so do people in northern France. For both, they are a national treasure.

Belgium blames American soldiers stationed in French-speaking Wallonia during World War I for first referring to the Belgian national dish as “French fries”.

Americans later infamously renamed them “Freedom fries”, albeit only briefly, in protest at France’s refusal to back the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

Last year, the Flemish community of Flanders launched a bid to gain UNESCO world heritage status for the greasy potato sticks. Their French- and German-speaking compatriots have now lent their support.

Historians say they may have difficulty proving parentage of the beloved “frites”.

“Potato fries belong to the realm of street food for the poor, which is why it’s so difficult to establish a birth certificate,” French historian Madeleine Ferrières told Le Point magazine.

According to one theory, fries were invented in the 17th century by the people of Namur, in southern Belgium, when the town’s river froze and fish were replaced with potato slices.

Another folk tale claims they first appeared on the Pont Neuf in Paris during the French Revolution. Neither hypothesis is popular with historians.

French and Belgians also disagree over how to eat them.

In France, “frites” are generally served with a piece of meat and eaten with a knife and fork, whereas Belgians tend to eat them in cones and with their fingers.

Except people in northern France also eat them in cones – which may explain why La Voix du Nord, a local daily, wants the region to join the Belgian bid.

Wallonia’s Agriculture Mininster René Collin has said he would welcome his French neighbours, though adding: “Belgian fries remain the world’s best”

Date created : 2014-12-03

Only in Belgium – Prime Minister Attacked With Fries


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The Belgian Prime Minister was pelted with fries and mayonnaise, in a precedent-setting attack on Monday by protestors against a new austerity program. Belgian fried potatoes, more widely known as French fries, are a national dish in this country which claims their invention. Fries are most often served with mayonnaise in Belgium and 95% of Belgians patronize a Friekot stand where they are widely sold, at least once a year.

Where McDonald’s, and those famous fries, got started…




The first photo is from 1948, when Dick and Mac McDonald remodeled their highly successful barbeque restaurant in San Bernardino, CA into the prototype of the modern era McDonald’s, with a simplified menu, high speed food preparation, and walk-up service. The second photo is during the rededication of the site of that first McDonald’s in the 1990s, then a location for the San Bernardino Civic Light Opera. The dedication plaque at the site, which I wrote, appears in the third photo.