The Surprising Reason One McDonald’s Uses Turquoise Arches

Nestled between breathtaking red mountainous views, lies the beautiful Southwest city of Sedona. It’s known for attractions like Slide Rock Park and the only Turquoise McDonald’s arches worldwide. There’s a seemingly simple yet understandable reason for this change in the color scheme.

McDonald’s was opened in 1940 by two brothers, Richard and Maurice McDonald, in San Bernardino, California. At the time, it was the first drive-thru to sell BBQ. Then, the chain transitioned into a fast-food burger and milkshake chain. Today, it’s one of the largest fast-food chains worldwide, with locations in nearly 120 countries. It’s also known for its iconic golden arches and red and gold color scheme. However, customers might notice that the iconic color scheme is missing from the McDonald’s arches of Sedona, AZ.

McDonald's drive thru with turquoise McDonald's arches, American flag and traditional McDonald's flag.
Photo Credit: Shark Farts | Reddit

McDonald’s Arches of the Southwest

Instead, the McDonald’s arches of Sedona boast the traditional Southwest color of Turquoise. The color’s significance to the area goes back more than 1,000 years. Additionally, it plays a crucial role in the culture of the Southwest. The stone has been used to make jewelry for generations. However, the color represents something much more meaningful to the natives. The greens and blues represent “Mother Earth” and “Skystone”, linking the blue to both sky and water. It’s a color that is deeply significant to the people of the Southwest and continues to inspire art and architecture.

On the other hand, the desert expands hundreds of miles in all directions, surrounding Sedona. It showcases other colors such as tans, reds, oranges, or pinks. The result of mineral rich compositions like iron oxide and potassium feldspar. The palette of the Southwest Desert of the United States is a major motivator behind much of the architecture found throughout.

As a result, many cities throughout the Southwest have strict building codes that require new structures to reflect similar colors or styles to the rest of the city. The McDonald’s arches were no exception. In 1993, Sedona got its first, and only to date, McDonald’s location. However, city officials were hesitant, concerned the traditional gold McDonald’s arches would clash with the rest of the desert palette.

Unique Locations of the Southwest

Sedona is just one of the many examples of small cities or towns scattered throughout the Southwest of the United States that are renowned for their unique or quirky traits. In fact, Arizona is also the birthplace of Tombstone, the infamous Wild West city deemed “Too Tough to Die”. Having faced fires, gunfights, and supposed ghosts that still walk the halls of the buildings, Tombstone has proven to stand the test of time. Now, it provides tourists with an immersive experience, allowing them to step back into time and walk the same streets as well-known names like Doc Holliday and Big Nose Kate, lined with cute shops and restaurants and reenactments of famous gunfights.

Meanwhile, sharing a border with Arizona is New Mexico, which boasts its own quirky destinations, like Truth or Consequences, named after a radio show. Or Roswell, New Mexico, which also has its own unique spin on McDonald’s. Although it has the classic golden McDonald’s arches, the building looks like a UFO. Believed to be near the site of a UFO discovery, Roswell is not likely to allow any new structures to be built that don’t keep to the aesthetic of the artsy and quirky town nestled in the Southern desert.

Creativity Extends Beyond McDonald’s Arches

Despite the grandeur of the worldwide chain, it’s interesting to see how it still allows for its locations to respect the area’s local culture. While Sedona is the only known location with a different color for McDonald’s arches, there are several locations that have been built in fun or unique ways that match the aesthetic of the town or city in which they’re located.

Interestingly, one location in New York was actually put into a former farmhouse and mansion built in the 1700s. Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Nevada, the McDonald’s reflects the bold architecture of the city, with giant classic-colored McDonald’s arches that stretch hundreds of feet over the strip. And in competition with Universal Studios and Disney World, one McDonald’s location “EpicMcD” is in Orlando, Florida and ia 19,000 sq ft, with a 20-foot play structure and more than 100 arcade games.

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