Bizarre Business: The Paradise Program by Anthony Haden-Guest

An excerpt from the book The Paradise Program by Anthony Haden-Guest which examines some bizarre business dealings including a trip to Hamburger University.

THE PARADISE PROGRAM. By Anthony Haden-Guest. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1973.

About the book: A kinky personal investigation by an English author of some remarkable offbeat business empires. Haden-Guest guides the reader into the dizzying worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., Reader's Digest, Hilton Hotels, Coca-Cola. Most memorable of all, in Elk Grove, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, he found a stone slab announcing the entrance to Hamburger University, one of the most unique colleges in the world and the training ground for those who wish to open a McDonald's Hamburger franchise.

From the book: Hamburger University is not the playful whim of a very rich company. It offers a training course for new batches of managerial talent. They will have paid $100,000/$125,000 for a franchise, depending on the trimmings, and the course is free. McDonald's isn't the only fast-food chain to offer some of the trappings of the groves of Academe (there is also a Dunkin' Donuts University in Quincy, Mass.) but it is, indisputably, the fanciest. The end product is a Diploma in Hamburgerology, with a Minor in French Fries. There have been 130 classes, and there are upwards of 5,000 Bachelors of Hamburgerology. It is a handsome diploma, with black Gothic lettering, signed by Ray Kroc (Chairman) and Fred Turner (President), and there is no reason to suppose that the BHs find it a comical document. Rather it is, in the best academic traditions, jocular-solemn.

Classes can vary from 10 to 40. The franchisees tend to be in their middling 30s, and competent. Not just anybody can get a franchise. Despite the costs, and despite the 11.5% of monthly sales that the franchisee pays to McDonald's, a strictly average McDonald's operator should make profits of 50, 60, 70 thousand dollars a year.

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