Burger Meister RAY KROC

McDonald's begat an industry because a 52-year-old mixer salesman understood that we don't dine--we eat and run

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Like many of America's great entrepreneurs, Kroc was not a creator--convenience food already existed in many forms, from Howard Johnson's to White Castle--but he had the cunning ability to grasp a concept with all its complexities and implement it in the best possible way. And that's as American as a cheeseburger.

Jacques Pepin is a chef, author and host of the popular PBS television series Jacques Pepin's Kitchen: Cooking with Claudine

Franchising the American Dream

In the 1850s, a network of salesmen paid the Singer Sewing Machine Co. for the right to sell the newly patented machines in specific regions. The franchise system, adopted by the auto and oil industries early in the century and popularized by the fast-food industry after World War II, today cuts across more than 70 industry categories, from tax-preparation services to hotels (Kemmons Wilson created Holiday Inn in 1952 because he couldn't find a decent place to sleep on the road). There are nearly 3,000 franchise chains in the U.S. with 600,000 units, which ring up almost $1 trillion a year, or 41% of all retail sales. Bill Rosenberg, who founded Dunkin' Donuts in the '50s, credits franchising for the swift growth of his company: "I wanted to grow fast and efficiently and wanted people to own their own business." Dunkin' Donuts now has around 4,000 units worldwide.

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