Seth Perlman, File, Associated Press
FILE - This Oct. 17, 2011 file photo shows the McDonald's logo on a McDonald's drive through window, in Springfield, Ill. McDonald's Corp. announced Monday, Oct. 24, 2011, that the boneless barbecue pork sandwich, usually available in only a few stores at a time, will be sold at all U.S. locations through Nov. 14.

"How McDonald’s Came Back Bigger Than Ever" is a new article in the New York Times Magazine's Money Issue. The piece detailed how the fast-food behemoth keeps growing: Specifically, McDonald's is aggressively responding to continued criticism by social activists about the restaurant's "unhealthy" menu with better food, more menu choices and a never-ending marketing blitz.

"Now McDonald’s is fighting back, quietly launching a major counteroffensive of its own," Keith O'Brien wrote for the Times. "And it isn’t simply trying to keep its current customers happy; it’s also hoping to convince McDonald’s skeptics that they’re wrong."

Some eye-opening factoids from O'Brien's article:

Marketing analysts estimate McDonald's spends $2 billion annually on advertising.

"In 2011, the average free-standing McDonald’s restaurant in the United States generated nearly $2.6 million in sales, an increase of roughly 13 percent since 2008."

Food-service research firm Technomic Inc. attributes a 17-percent market share to McDonald's, which is industry leading for limited-service restaurants and "nearly as much as the next four restaurants in that category combined — Subway, Starbucks, Burger King and Wendy’s."

McDonald's understandably attracts a lot of media attention. Just in the past week, for example, the Associated Press reported that "limited-time offers are McDonald's newest tactic" and detailed why a British doctors' group is up in arms over the corporate sponsorship agreement between McDonald's and the London 2012 Olympics.

Last year Wendy's surpassed Burger King to become the America's second-largest burger chain. However, McDonald's remains head-and-shoulders above all competitors. "While top rival McDonald’s grew through the recession, Wendy’s saw its quarterly sales slip, from $901 to $615 million over two years," Forbes.com business reporter Abram Brown wrote in a Tuesday article.