Unfortunately for McDonald's, being instantly recognizable and loved by young and old alike means they're usually the first name mentioned when critics of fast food start talking about the disastrous impact it's had on the cholesterol levels and waistlines of this great land and so many others. To some extent, that's totally fair. The road to McDonald's becoming the most hated restaurant of all time is littered with several completely legitimate controversies.
However, being the go-to name to name when talking shit about shitty food has had an interesting side effect. When something needs to change in the fast food industry, McDonald's usually leads the way in making those changes happen. Case in point: Remember when every fast food burger used to be packaged in unwieldy polystyrene containers?
Eat a dick, ozone!
McDonald's certainly wasn't alone in that practice way back in 1987, but it was the only fast food company targeted by environmental groups as part of the "McToxics" campaign, which sought to pressure the burger giant into using less eco-destructive packaging. Guess what? It totally worked! Sure, McDonald's put up a fight, but in the end they relented, and in 1990 they did away with polystyrene packaging altogether. As stated right in the last sentence of this dawn-of-the-Internet-era article about the campaign, other fast food restaurants quickly followed suit.
That's not a minor point, either. Time and again, when widespread problems have been identified in the fast food industry, McDonald's has routinely been called out as if it's the only guilty party and in turn has been the first to take steps toward fixing the problem. Another example of this is the infamous "pink slime" scandal. That's the name given to the disgusting looking "mechanically separated meat" that's long been associated with heart attack-inducing fast food.
Just like mom used to make.