Eric Schlosser wrote the book “Fast Food Nation” to prove that the fast food industry is solely responsible for many problems that affect today’s society. He begins his argument by explaining how the fast food industry came to be and who made it happen. Carl Karcher was the biggest starting pioneer of this new industry. After his marriage in 1939, he bought his first hot dog cart and “by the end of 1994, [he] owned 4 hot dog carts in Los Angeles. ” His next fast food venture was his Drive-In Barbeque, but the competition was soon on. “Dozens of people were standing in line to buy bags of ‘McDonald’s Famous Hamburgers’ (Schlosser 18, 19).
Richard and “Mac” McDonald had their own business, but were tired of having to find new carhops and cooks. So they began to use today’s way of how fast food chains do business, assembly line style. This was the beginning of the rising power of the fast food industry. Schlosser then briefly describes the lives of many other fast food pioneers such as William Rosenberg who opened his first “doughnut shop in 1948, later calling it Dunkin’ Donuts. ” Glen Bell founded the restaurant chain Taco Bell, Keith Cramer founded Insta-Burger-King, Dave Thomas founded Wendy’s, and Thomas Monaghan opened the first Domino’s.
And Harland Sanders was the famous man of them all with his opening of the world’s first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant (Schlosser 22-23). Thanks to these men, America has her fast food. In order to explain how fast food became so popular in American culture, Schlosser continues his book with the complicated relationship between Ray Kroc and Walt Disney and their rise to fame. “Ray Kroc took the McDonald brothers’ Speedee Service System and spread it nationwide, creating a fast food empire (Schlosser 34). ” Walt Disney created a fantasy world that fulfilled the American child’s dreams.
Their great success was their uncanny ability of marketing their products to children. Even though Walt Disney’s success arrived sooner, Kroc’s company was most successful with the invention of the character Ronald McDonald in enticing America’s children. “Indeed, market research has found that children often recognize a brand logo before they can recognize their own name (Schlosser 43). ” Playgrounds and even public school systems have fell victim to advertising. Playlands in McDonald’s stores attract whole families with young, hungry, and noisy children.
Believe it or not, children are the ones who made McDonald’s Corporation as rich as it is today. Schlosser continues with stories and facts about what happens behind the counter. The mass number of fast food stores across America shows growing problems surrounding those who work at them. Crew members are only paid minimum wage and sometimes even less. They are prevented from being paid overtime, forming labor unions, and are forced to work only when they are needed. Workers going overtime are being paid for the extra time in food, not money. Robberies have been known to occur by current of former employees, not just third parties.
McDonald’s sees it only necessary to add security to its stores rather than increasing its employee wages to incentivize workers to try and prevent theft. McDonald’s uses a combination of teenagers and illegal immigrants as its workforce supply. These workers are not concerned about being paid little since most do not have to support a family. With such a tremendous supply of labor, there is no incentive for McDonald’s Corporation to increase employee wages. Franchisees of many fast food chains are increasingly upset about encroachment, multiple stores of the same chain within short distances of each other.
It is terrible that corporations are not thinking too highly of their franchisees. But there is no incentive for these corporations to change since they own the land that their franchises sit on. Franchisees periodically sue their franchisors “about inflated price charged by suppliers, [and] about bankruptcies and terminations that seemed unfair (Schlosser 100). ” The meat packing industry is by far the most dangerous industry in America. Countless injuries occur without being reported and all that seems to matter to the industry is meeting the daily schedules.
The faster the employees are made to work, the more dangerous the work becomes. Workers are usually fired after they are severely injured and are sent to specific doctors who do not document these injuries and convince the workers that they are fine. Any defiance against the company and those workers are either fired or given harder and more dangerous tasks. The only thought that comes across meat packing company executives is profit margins. There is relatively no social justice for the employees of the fast food and meat packing industries.
Their wages are minimal, they receive no benefits, and no bonuses are given. There is no excuse that can justify falsified reports and time clocks. This is one of the few points where private interests go too far. Minimized costs is a must have in the private sector, but not to the point where the lives and welfare of workers are at stake and laws are being violated. There is simply too much private interest alive in Congress which prevents any further prohibition of such behavior. These industries are technically victimizing their workers by using them as cheap labor.
Fast food chains use advertising which targets children who are the most vulnerable and exploit that weakness to maximize profits. In addition to Schlosser’s arguments, fast food is the worst possible food that people can eat. The sad thing is children at such young ages are eating it and the parents either do not even know any better or they simply do not care just because it is good to their wallets. Eric Schlosser’s critical views towards the fast food and meat packing industries, I dear say, are very informative. In sharing his views, I believe things must be done to address these issues.
If the end result means higher prices for fast food, I, unlike most of Americans, simply would not mind paying it because then at least the employees of both industries would be earning better wages, learning real life skills, and working in a safer environment especially for those who do the meat packing. The facts about the fast food industry in this book definitely prove to me what I have been supporting, working at a McDonald’s for the past two years. I may actually consider finding a new job this summer with a company that pays me better, a company that does not have the kind of nasty reputation that the fast food chains have.
Courtney from Study Moose
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