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Fast food restaurant Essay

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Life in the 1950’s was unlike any previous decade. It was the culmination of the previous 50 years of expansion, industrialization, depression and two world wars. The baby boom began. Families were moving to the suburbs. The accessibility of the automobile and the integrated open highway gave the average citizen a freedom and mobility never seen before.

As a result, industries and businesses sprang up to fill the needs of the average American who could now travel, work and live where ever they wanted.

One of the businesses that sprang up, and is an industry today, was the fast food restaurant. Fast food restaurants were originally started by hard working, young, uneducated men who were pursuing the American Dream. McDonalds and Carl’s Jr. were the forerunners.

They embodied what America was known for – hard work, ingenuity, and capitalism. They built and grew their businesses. They didn’t start out to dominate the American landscape or palate. They had a business/restaurant model that was working for them and the American people were eating it up.

Many copied their format and a number of small, privately owned restaurants sprang up across the country.

A majority failed, but today’s most popular chains survived… McDonalds, Carl’s Jr. , Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s, and KFC. They survived because they changed the way food was cooked and delivered to the customer. McDonalds was the main innovator and the others followed. To be successful, owners needed to make the food faster and more accessible to large numbers of people. Gone was the short order cook who made your meal; gone was the friendly carhop who brought you your food; gone was the home glass plates and cups; gone was the quality of food delivered.

Instead, cheap, unskilled labor made one part of your meal and someone else made another. It was more of a factory assembly line than a restaurant. Food was delivered quickly, to drive up windows in many cases, and in paper wrapping. The restaurants who were successful, soon franchised throughout the country. As business grew, the need to own/control the entire distribution from beef to burger began. Centralized purchasing and standardization of products took over. People were thrilled.

They could now be assured of getting what they thought was the same great, quick, cheap meal at every McDonalds, Carl’s Jr. , Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC. It is hard to say what came first, American demand for the fast food product or the product. In a democratic, capitalist country, demand drives what survives. If American’s didn’t fall in love with the automobile and the open road, would we have a fast food restaurant on every freeway on and off ramp?

Would those fast food chains have created a three burger/four fry a week habit? Would the small American farmer almost be extinct? Would childhood obesity be a national health problem? It’s hard to say, but worth thinking about.

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