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BILLIONS OF BUNS FOR BIG MAC ATTACKS.

Byline: Anissa Vicente-Rivera Staff Writer

That all-beef patty, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions wouldn't mean a thing without that sesame seed bun to hold it all together.

Three years after McDonald's signature sandwich was introduced to the masses, company leader Ray Kroc turned the Harold Freund Baking Co. in Glendale, asking them to open a kitchen exclusively for the golden arches.

Freund, which still operates in Glendale, started a new operation called Fresh Start Bakeries to accommodate Kroc.

Thirty years later, the Fresh Start Bakeries operation - which has since been sold - is still churning out Big Mac buns from a 55,000-square-foot facility in Industry. The plant also does Ronald McDonald's baking for the Egg McMuffin sandwiches.

Plant Manager Bob Mitchell says he ``and the clown go a long way.''

The mass bakery operates on the very principles Kroc used to turn a San Bernardino burger stand into an international brand.

In 1954, Kroc, a salesman for a milk shake mixer, stopped into a drive-in restaurant where brothers Dick and Mac McDonald had eight mixers whirring simultaneously.

Kroc seized on the idea of speedy service, bought the restaurant and a year later started the Illinois-based chain famous for having served ``billions and billions'' of burgers.

To that end, Fresh Start, the largest single-purpose bakery in the world, churns out more than 1.5 million pieces of baked goods each day, according to General Manager Rob Crawford.

To start, a flour mix is fermented. Then following the same bread-making procedures used in any kitchen, it is mixed, divided, cut into dough balls, flattened into pans, left to rise, baked, cooled and sliced. It is also dated and packaged into special trays that protect the baked goods during transport.

``The entire process takes two hours from start to finish,'' Mitchell said.

Within two days of coming out of the massive ovens, the bakery's buns are delivered three times a week to 800 McDonald's from Paso Robles to northern Mexico, Mitchell said. Restaurants elsewhere are supplied by other Fresh Start Bakeries in the U.S., Guatemala, Spain and Sweden, among other places.

The company is not only about bread, but about quality control. The Industry plant's 142 employees check dough weight, coloring, the height and width of buns, even sesame seed coverage.

``I can't go to the grocery without taking a loaf home and looking at the coloring and all that,'' said quality assurance supervisor Patty Loutherback.

For McDonald's, which has 28,000 restaurants serving more than 43 million people a day in 120 countries, quality is more than hyperbole.

Twice a year, Fresh Start and seven other contractors gather to work on new products, such as the recently introduced tortas, and to study the finer points of a burger.

Crawford said it's to make sure ``a Big Mac in New York looks, tastes and smells like a Big Mac you'll get in L.A.''

BUN BITES

--Industry-based Fresh Start Bakeries:

--Produces 96,000 buns an hour

--Produces 16,800 English muffins an hour

--Uses 160,000 pounds of flour a day.

CAPTION(S):

photo, box

Photo:

Baker Mark Melvin checks McDonald's buns for proper cut, color, size and sesame seed distribution.

Greg Andersen/Staff Photographer

Box: BUN BITES (See text)
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 14, 2001
Words:540
Previous Article:L.A.'S 'SWIRL' CHALLENGING, INSPIRATIONAL.
Next Article:PIERCE PROJECT SLOW TO START UP.


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