What is the Fast Food Industry?

Jacob Queen

The fast food industry includes restaurants that cater to people who are traveling and want to buy food that is served quickly. Most restaurants in the industry have drive-through service that allows people to get their food without getting out of their cars, and there is also usually the option to go inside. Many restaurants in the fast food industry are part of large chains. Overall, the industry has been successful financially, but it is often accused of helping perpetuate obesity.

French fries are often served at fast food restaurants.
French fries are often served at fast food restaurants.

According to most historians, the first fast food chain was White Castle, which was formed on the west coast of the United States in 1916. The industry didn’t really start to take off until McDonalds became popular in the late 1940s and early 1950s. After that, many different people started imitating the business model of the more successful chains, and eventually some of these people became big enough to form major chains themselves.

Fast food franchises often serve value meals that include fries, a drink, and a hamburger.
Fast food franchises often serve value meals that include fries, a drink, and a hamburger.

Fast food industry restaurants have very carefully designed menus with a focus on being able to cook the food quickly and easily. They generally don’t want food that is so complicated that actual chefs will be required, so most of the ingredients are pre-packaged, and the cooking equipment is designed so that everything is very simple. They also often strive for absolute consistency so customers can be assured that everything they buy will always taste the same regardless which location they visit.

Hot dogs are a common fast food.
Hot dogs are a common fast food.

Another important aspect for fast food industry restaurants is to make sure food is easy to eat on the move. Many people eat the food while driving, and easy handling is often considered an important part of its commercial appeal. For that reason, foods such as hamburgers, French fries, tacos, and hot dogs are common items on fast food menus.

Mexican dishes like tacos are often on the menu at many franchise restaurants.
Mexican dishes like tacos are often on the menu at many franchise restaurants.

Some nutritionists have complained that the fast food industry is hurting people’s health. Many of the food items are very high in calories (kilojoules), and they are often considered nutritionally questionable. Some people think the fast food industry is partially responsible for a general increase in obesity and various health problems that stem from being overweight.

Many fast food restaurants offer deep fried food such as french fries and chicken nuggets.
Many fast food restaurants offer deep fried food such as french fries and chicken nuggets.

A fairly large number of people are employed by the fast food industry, and it offers many job for people who need part-time work. The positions aren’t usually very high paying, but there is sometimes significant turnover, so people who continue working for a long time may be able to move up the ranks to some extent. The low wages paid by companies in the fast food industry have been criticized by some, while others applaud the industry for employing so many people.

Many nutritionists believe that the fast food industry is harmful to people's health.
Many nutritionists believe that the fast food industry is harmful to people's health.
The fast-food industry took off in the 1940's and 1950's when McDonald's started to become popular.
The fast-food industry took off in the 1940's and 1950's when McDonald's started to become popular.

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Discussion Comments

Drentel

When I'm working, fast food is a good way for me to grab a quick meal. However, this habit caused me to gain a good bit of weight and because of some of the bad results from tests during a regular examination, my doctor told me to cut back on the fast food.

I don't think fast food has to be a bad thing, but I just got carried away. I was eating breakfast, lunch and most dinners at these places and it caught up with me.

Animandel

Hamburger places and other fast food restaurants and the fast food industry as a whole does receive a lot of criticism, as mentioned in this article. However, common sense should tell us that food mass produced like what happens in this industry is not going to be as good for us as food prepared in our homes using fresh ingredients.

Fast food is bad for us, but so are a lot of other things, so weigh the good against the bad and make your own decision.

Laotionne

Fast food restaurants have spoiled people. When I was in high school, I worked as a counter person at a fast food chain and sometimes we would get backed up and customers would have to wait five or 10 minutes longer than usual. When this happened you would have thought it was the end of the word.

Customers would start making comments like, "This is supposed to be fast food. Why is it taking so long?" Granted, the food was taking longer than usual, but it was still faster than if they went home and cooked or went to a sit-down restaurant with waitresses and chefs.

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