One of the favorite stories of American business is that of Henry Ford, who, according to legend, paid his unskilled workers about twice the going rate so that they would have enough money to purchase one of the Model-T cars they proudly made. In a strange reversal of that ethic, McDonald's has begun to instruct its own employees to avoid the products they make: burgers and fries. Offering advice from McResource Line, its employee website, the fast food giant suggests employees choose healthier options, such as a salad and sandwich, when selecting a meal from a fast-food menu.

Noting that many chain restaurants are now preparing foods using other types of fat, rather than trans fats, the company’s website states that it is still difficult to eat a healthy diet when you eat at fast food restaurants too often. “Many foods are cooked with a lot of fat, even if they are not trans fats. Many fast-food restaurants do not offer any lower-fat foods. Large portions also make it easy to overeat. And most fast food restaurants do not offer many fresh fruits and vegetables.”

In addition, the website graphically offers an example of an “unhealthy choice” versus a “healthier choice” with alternate photos of a large soda, double cheeseburger, and fries as compared to a salad, water, and a sandwich. The caption reads: “Although not impossible, it is more of a challenge to eat healthy when going to a fast food place. ... Limit the extras such as cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise.”

On another website page, the company risks even more when it directly references the incompatability of its own food and health: “In general, people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease must be very careful about choosing fast food because of its high fat, salt, and sugar levels.”

The Golden Arches defended itself to CNBC. "Portions of this website continue to be taken entirely out of context," a McDonald's statement issued to CNBC noted. "This website provides useful information from respected third-parties about many topics, among them health and wellness. It also includes information from experts about healthy eating and making balanced choices. McDonald's agrees with this advice."

Late-blooming Success

The fast-food giant officially began in 1955 when Ray Kroc, then age 52, founded the McDonald’s Corporation after buying exclusive rights to the name from two brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald, who ran a small but successful restaurant by producing only a limited though popular menu that focused on burgers, fries, and beverages. Kroc’s vision utterly and quickly transformed McDonald’s and by 1958 the chain had sold its 100 millionth hamburger. Until he died at the age of 81, Ray Kroc continued to work at McDonald's, often arriving at the offices in his wheelchair.