When it opened in 1990, the Moscow McDonald's, where this woman worked, was the largest fast-food restaurant in the world. Today, that honor is held by a London McDonald's.

Photograph by Steve Raymer, National Geographic
  • On January 31, 1990, the McDonald’s fast-food restaurant chain opened its first franchise in Moscow, Russia, then the capital of the Soviet Union. Customers waited in line for hours to get a taste of an American hamburger—a “Bolshoi Mac.” The appearance of this notorious symbol of capitalism and its enthusiastic reception were signs that times were changing in the communist Soviet Union.

    The opening of the Moscow McDonald’s is an example of globalization. Globalization is a process of exchanging ideas and popular culture around the world. Along with the fall of the Berlin Wall a year earlier, the opening of an American restaurant in the capital of the United States’ rival superpower was recognized as an indication of the weakening of the Soviet Union’s power and influence.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Berlin Wall Noun

    (1961-1989) barrier erected by East Germany that divided the city of Berlin into halves controlled by East Germany and West Germany.

    capital Noun

    city where a region's government is located.

    Encyclopedic Entry: capital
    capitalism Noun

    economic system where the free exchange of goods and services is controlled by individuals and groups, not the state.

    communist economy Noun

    system where the distribution of goods and services, as well as prices, are largely determined by the government. Also called a managed economy.

    enthusiastic Adjective


    globalization Noun

    connection of different parts of the world resulting in the expansion of international cultural, economic, and political activities.

    Encyclopedic Entry: globalization
    indication Noun

    hint or signal.

    influence Verb

    to encourage or persuade a person or organization to act a certain way.

    popular culture Noun

    goods, services, ideas, and patterns of their use in a population.

    recognize Verb

    to identify or acknowledge.

    Soviet Union Noun

    (1922-1991) large northern Eurasian nation that had a communist government. Also called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR.

    superpower Noun

    extremely powerful nation or country.