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The Golden Arches are the symbol of McDonald's, the global fast-food restaurant chain. Originally, real arches were part of the restaurant design. They were incorporated into the chain's logo in 1962, which resembled a stylized restaurant, and in the current Golden Arches logo, introduced 1968, resembling an "M" for "McDonald's".
The arches were introduced in 1953, when Richard and Maurice McDonald were building their first franchised outlet in Phoenix, Arizona. Architect Stanley Meston designed a walk-up hamburger stand with red and white tiles and a distinctive sloped roof, but Richard, wanting more visual appeal, sketched a pair of stylized yellow arches, one at each side. Meston accepted other changes but rejected the arches; in the end, sign-maker George Dexter was hired to construct the arches. When viewed from an angle, the two yellow arches design was reminiscent of the two loops forming the letter "M" for McDonald's. A sign out front incorporated yet a third yellow arch along with the chain's signature character, a chef named Speedee.
In 1962, seeking to upgrade its image, the company sought a new logo. Fred Turner sketched a stylized "V", but the company's head of engineering and design, Jim Schindler, extended the "V" into an "M" resembling a McDonald's store viewed from an angle, with a red isosceles trapezoid "roof" serving as background for lettering.
While McDonald's dropped the physical arches from nearly all of its restaurants in the 1960s, the Golden Arches have remained in the logo, and as a commonly understood term for the company. All McDonald's stores and commercials in Canada have a maple leaf in the middle of the Golden Arches.
The term "Golden Arches" is sometimes used as metonym, symbolizing capitalism or globalization in phrases such as the "Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention", since McDonald's is one of the more prominent American corporations that have become global in their reach (along with Coca-Cola and Nike).