McDonald's, Russia, Capitalism, Glasnost, Perestroika


Early on the morning of 30 January 1990, George Cohon, president of McDonald'sCanada, left his hotel room and drove to Pushkin Square in Moscow. Nervous about the international press that would be covering the opening of the first McDonald's in this nation and anxious to make the opening perfect, he arrived to see the streets empty in front of the fast-food restaurant except for a lone policeman. Wondering where the anticipated crowds of Muscovites were, Cohon approached the officer, concerned by the apparent lack of interest in the first McDonald's opening in the Soviet Union. After a short conversation with the officer, Cohon rounded the comer to see, in organized lines behind police barricades, thousands of people waiting to taste their first Big Mac. The lines wrapped around Pushkin Square throughout the day, as over 30,000 Russians visited McDonald's for the first time.