The Evolution of Fast Food in America

Since the evolution of fast food restaurants, the value of the all American meal has been transformed by many means. Not only have fast food restaurants altered peoples eating habits, but they have also revolutionized the way people live and society. It is safe to say the world itself has been affected by fast food and its ridiculous, continual growth. The most widely recognized brand in the world happens to be McDonalds. How could it not be the most well-know brand with its fifteen thousand restaurants in more than 117 foreign countries? (Schlosser 229). To make sure their progress is kept alive, they manage to open five new restaurants every single day. An average of four out of the five are overseas. In other words, America imprints four influencing footprints a day throughout different parts of the world. It appears that the methods and business of fast food corporations, and the food itself, have many negative effects on society and the world.

The first fast food restaurant was founded in 1921 (Clark 833). Since then, the chain gangs have intensely emerged throughout the decades. The values of nutrition diminished as the demand for convenience exploded throughout America. The well-being and quality of a home cooked meal rarely exists in this fast food nation. Supermarkets and table service restaurants are losing their customers to microwaved fast food. In 1991, fast food restaurants dominated fifty-one percent of the market, leaving table-service restaurants with twenty-three percent, and supermarkets with only fourteen percent (Clark 837).

The invention of the microwave and the foods it helped generate was a key destructor to the family meal. Families tended to stop having lunch together by the 1940s and breakfast together by the 1950s (Ritzer 135). Today, family dinners rarely occur. If and when they do, the television is usually the most popular member at the table. In the past, people were more willing to spend half an hour or even an hour cooking dinner, now consumers demand that they get their food in no less than ten minutes. People become so used to having underpaid teenagers nuke their food for them in such a short time, it makes cooking a healthy meal at home seem like a undesirable task.

In the early 1960s, forty three percent of Americans were overweight; today more than half of all U.S. adults97 million Americansare either overweight or obese (Bettelheim 27). The weight problem of America began to get out of hand in the late 1970s. Fast food establishments had no intent to help reduce this nations weight problem, yet they only helped it increase. They managed to widen the variety on their menus and they even introduced larger portions of food such as the super sized fries. An estimated 46 million Americans patronize the nations 160,000 fast-food restaurants every day, each spending an average of $250 a year (Clark 827).

Fast food is extremely fattening and is a major cause to this nations obesity figures. Todays American meal consists of a quarter-pound cheeseburger, large fries and a 16-ounce soda from McDonalds. That meal alone contains 1,166 calories, 51 grams of fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol and 1,450 milligrams of sodium (Bettelheim 34). That is about half the calories, one-third of the cholesterol and all of the fat and sodium one needs daily. If one wanted chicken instead of a burger, he could go to KFC and order the popular combo consisting of two pieces of fried chicken (breast and wing), a buttermilk biscuit, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn-on-the-cob and a 16-ounce soda. That meal contains 1,232 calories, 57 grams of fat, 157 milligrams of cholesterol and 2,276 milligrams of sodium (Bettelheim 34). Thats all the sodium one needs in a day and more than half of the calories, fat and cholesterol. People have a tendency to think that if they order a large diet soda with their Big Mac and fries, they will slim down somehow.

Although fast food restaurants have a variety of customers, their number one focus is on teenagers and kids. The explosion of childrens advertising occurred during the 1980s. These corporations hire market researches to explore the many different ways they can recruit their future customers. These researchers really take it to the extreme while attempting to accomplish their goalgetting kids to nag their parents and nag them well.

For example, they analyze childrens artwork, hire children to run focus groups, stage slumber parties and then question children into the night. They send cultural anthropologists into homes, stores, fast food restaurants, and other places where kids like to gather, quietly and secretly observing the behavior of prospective customers (Schlosser 44). Well-run kid clubs and colorful playgrounds are also clever attractions for average youngsters. According to one Burger King executive, the creation of a Burger King Kids Club in 1991 increased the sales of childrens meals as much as 300 percent (Schlosser 45). In a recent development, McDonalds in Japan is joining forces with Toys R Us. Aligning themselves along with playgrounds and toys, a number of Toys R Us outlets to be built will include McDonalds restaurants (Ritzer 126). Hopefully the playgrounds will be safer than the food.

McDonalds has replaced the U.S. Army as the nations largest job-training program (Clark 833). Rather than relying on skilled, well-trained and paid workers, the fast food industry reaches out to the part-time, unskilled workers who are willing to accept the minimum wage. The majority of Americas teenage workforce consists of underpaid hamburger flippers. Not one fast food chain is unionized and there is no other field of workers with such a great need. The fast food industry pays the minimum wage to a higher proportion of its workers than any other American industry (Schlosser 73). Most of the time, teenagers will work their first job at a fast food chain and end up quitting the job or being fired, about three to four months after hire.

America and other parts of the world could outstandingly benefit in numerous ways from the elimination, or at least the reduction, of fast food restaurants. Traffic at rush hour would be reduced since there wouldnt be millions of delivery trucks rushing to deliver all of their demanded processed food. The three thousand annual deaths as a result of weight problems would be lessened by large. Teenagers would be directed into a variety of different work fields, maybe some with decent pay, where use of the brain is required. Familys would maybe even sit down all together, at the same table and have a quality, home cooked meal as they once did.

Farmers and ranchers may even start to appear again since there would be no need to take over their property. Kids could grow up without Ronalds advertisements flying at them from every direction. Perhaps they would even eat real food, rather than fries from beef extract and E. coli burgers. The benefits are countless, but as long as we continue to ignore them, the world will only continue to become Americanized as the occurrence of the Golden Arches appear every two hours. 

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