Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald's for the First Time in 1990
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990

Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990

Jacob Miller - November 1, 2017

The Soviet Union’s first McDonald’s fast-food restaurant opened in Moscow on January 31, 1990.

Many people waited in long lines in order to pay the equivalent of several day’s wages for the world-famous hamburgers and fries. The icon of capitalism was readily received by the Russians who were ready for social change.

An American journalist reported the customers were the most amazed by the “simple sight of polite shop workers…in this nation of commercial boorishness.”

The arrival of McDonald’s in Moscow was a small but certain sign that change was on the horizon. In fact, less than two years later, the Soviet Union ceased to exist as a nation, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as leader of the country, and various Soviet republics proclaimed their independence. As the American newsman reported, the first Russian McDonald’s customers “had seen the future, and it works, at least as far as their digestive tract.”

Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
On January 30, 1990, the first McDonalds eatery opened in Moscow. It was also the first one in the whole country – in the Soviet Union. They say they were holding talks with Soviet officials about opening this venture for over 20 years – since 1976. Also, they offered 51% ownership of the venture to the Soviet state. Vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
At first, before opening the restaurant, McDonald’s started building a factory to produce the buns and other ingredients. So in 1989, it was ready and over 50 million dollars had been invested in it. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
Construction on the interior of McDonald’s. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
Future site of the first McDonald’s in Moscow. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
It was the largest McDonalds in the world at the time of the construction and even today remains the largest one in Europe. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
One year earlier, there was just a regular Soviet cafe on the place of the future McDonald’s. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
Then they started constructing the restaurant itself. Canadian managers of McDonald’s were key figures in making this happen, so they were coming to Moscow in person to see how the construction was going. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
And now the brand new place was ready to open the doors to the public. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
Moscow’s top authorities had a stake in the venture so they came to greet the workers. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
There was a hiring event. Over 35,000 people applied for a job in what would be the first-ever foreign restaurant in the Soviet Union, and around 600 people were accepted. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
And a line a few miles long of people wanting to try something new. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
Borris Yeltsin arrived at the launch on the first day. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
Children waiting in line and looking at the menu, excited to have their first taste of freedom. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
Cutting the ribbon at the grand opening. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
Mounting the Golden Arches. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
People line up around the park, all the way to the horizon. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
All the news crews came out to document the event. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
Capitalism had finally entered the Soviet Union and the demand was high. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
Employees handing out McDonald’s flags to the excited crowds. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
Entering the McDonald’s. vintages

Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
People tasting their McDonald’s for the first time. calvertjournal
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
People waited in the cold for hours. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
Russians in their ushankas, the famed hats, wait for their McDonald’s. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
The calm before the storm. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
The chaos inside McDonald’s. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
The cost of a hamburger was $1.50, which was roughly 1,500 roubles when an average salary was 150 roubles. You could buy ten loaves of bread for this money. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
The crew at the grand opening of the McDonald’s. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
The enormity of the line was unprecedented. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
The line wrapped around the park. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
The people outside were looking at the happy ones inside. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
The plaque commemorating the opening of the McDonald’s. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
Waiting at the front of the line to finally get to taste a McDonald’s hamburger. vintag.es
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
The long lines for food in the USSR were normal, and the people found it was worth the wait. calvertjournal
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
A boy eating his McDonald’s. calvertjournal
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
One of the first customers of the new Moscow McDonald’s gives a thumbs-up when asked by McDonald’s of Canada chairman George Cohon, right, what he thinks of the restaurant. mashable
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
Children try out world-famous food. mashable
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
An elderly Russian woman eats a hamburger. mashable
Photos of Russians Enjoying McDonald’s for the First Time in 1990
The golden McDonald’s arch was erected Saturday, December 16, 1989, in preparation for the restaurant’s late January opening. mashable

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