Employee of First McDonald’s in RGV Collecting Memorabilia for Decades
PHARR – In 1974, Fred Del Barrio joined the crew of the first McDonald’s restaurant in the Rio Grande Valley. It opened in Pharr at El Centro Mall.
More than 40 years later, Del Barrio, now an owner/operator of 13 McDonald’s restaurants, has a large collection of memorabilia. The collection began with décor from the first restaurant in Pharr.
“These were going to go in the dumpster,” he said and pointed to the McDonald’s character figures now decorating a wall.
Del Barrio gave a tour of the collection at his office. It includes a pair of Ronald McDonald’s shoes, his striped socks, a small airplane hanger with Ronald McDonald as a pilot, Fry Gobblins, a Bedazzled hamburger, transformable Happy Meal toys, Christmas stocking holders and more. He said he has a larger collection at his home.
"My wife says someday I'm going to end up on an episode of ‘Hoarders,’” he said with a laugh.
Many of the items he has were fundraisers for Ronald McDonald’s Charities. A new addition to his collection is the STRAW (Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal), which was a limited-edition straw with special holes McDonald’s released earlier this year.
“You have the chocolate at the bottom and the mint at the top. And you'll be able to enjoy both flavors at the same time,” he explained.
Del Barrio said he doesn’t mind when children stop by to see his collection, since toys were meant to be played with. "Everybody tries to stay a kid at heart," he added.
The owner/operator said, “When you go into business, you want to be successful. And when you're successful and you don't share it, I think you've squandered it."
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