Joan Kroc's bequest of $1.5 billion to the Salvation Army, one of the largest single philanthropic gifts ever made, hit the front page of every newspaper in the country in 2004. The huge endowment came from a fortune accumulated in the last half of the 20th century, a fortune that traces its origin to McDonald's Corp., the global icon of Americana, a company with worldwide sales approaching $47 billion generated by 31,000 restaurants with 1.6 million employees operating in 118 countries . Remarkably, it all started in 1954 with 15-cent hamburgers, 10-cent fries, 20-cent milkshakes, and a salesman extraordinaire, Ray Kroc. The 52-year-old Multimixer milkshake machine salesman from Illinois heard about Dick and Mac McDonald's Southern California restaurant. It had just ordered eight units of his five-spindle machine. That meant they were making as many as 40 shakes at a time, an impressive number for a small restaurant. Kroc decided to pay them a visit.