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The Wonder Years

A look at how franchising and the Franchise 500® have changed over the past 20 years.

The next time you open your wallet, remember that one out of every three dollars you are carrying is likely to be spent on products or services of a franchised company. There are more than 400,000 of them in the United States, and these firms account for nearly one-third of all retail sales. -Entrepreneur's 1st Annual Franchise 500®, March 1980

It seems there's nothing new under the sun. And the only constant in life is change. Over the past 20 years, franchising has seen its share of constancy-and of change. We realized back in 1979 just how monumental this marketing concept called franchising could be. And we took a leap of faith, inventing a ranking concept called the Franchise 500®.

On the 20th anniversary of our highly celebrated Franchise 500®, we've taken time to reflect on how much has really happened since our humble beginnings. Here, some excerpts from our first Franchise 500® issue, with a flash forward to 1999:

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This article was originally published in the January 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Wonder Years.

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