Today it is hard to imagine a country with major cities that did not have at least one McDonald’s, KFC, or any other “fast food”. Fast food has firmly taken an important place in the diet of thousands of people. However, thirty years ago, people of many countries could see the famous burgers only in the movies. Back then, it seemed impossible to sit at a table at McDonald’s, eating the famous Big Mac and crispy fries, washed down with a sizzling cola with ice. Unattainable American food seemed surprisingly tasty!
Fast food has become an integral part of the modern world. Many people cannot imagine their life without a burger or hot dog. From where did this thing come? Is it true that fast food is so bad for your health?
More recently, fast food was considered the invention of XX century. It was then that the fast-food industry emerged. Judging by everything, XXI century threatens to set some new records.
The crazy rhythm of life leaves no room for modern man to eat slowly, with pleasure. Instead of a detailed meal, we have to be pleased with food in a hurry, in the range of a business lunch at the nearest diner. However, the past is not worth idealizing. Fast food also existed in antiquity.
Those who think that fast food has appeared only in the XX century are wrong about a few thousand years. Fast food is known since ancient Rome. Large cities of the East and the West stimulated influx of foreign merchants, and together with the growing number of foreigners, increased the need for taverns, snack bars and other similar places. Overseas guests could rest there and order a hearty and inexpensive meal. For example, in the remaining contracts of Byzantium of X century, the Greeks committed themselves to regularly feed the merchants, providing them with all necessary things.
In the Middle Ages in the busy City Market, you could always eat well. In Germany, it was the beer, hot dogs, in Russia – kvass with pies and pancakes, in China – traditional noodles.
The word “Bistro” – the European equivalent of fast food, which long ago became a household word, has Russian roots.
If in ancient Greece still preferred to cook on their farms, the Romans often refused from cooking. Some homes did not even have kitchens. In every city there was lots of fast food and bazaars, where were all sorts of foods.
Bread, made with yeast dough, tossed with olive oil, was very popular. It was very convenient to use as an edible plate. A couple of centuries later, the cake, covered with sausages, vegetables and cheese, have been called the Italian pizza. The Romans also had their own hamburgers. They toasted tortillas with beef, which was served with bread. Professor Philip Fernandez-Armesto, in his book “A History of Food”, argues that the average ancient Roman was eating more fast food than a modern New Yorker. The difference is that the fast food of the ancient Romans was more fresh and healthy than modern hot dogs and hamburgers.
Fast food also existed in other countries. In China, people were selling hot noodles on the markets, in India – chapatti bread with hot sauce and rice with chicken curry sauce was very popular. Europe is not an exception, people loved baked goods.
Fast-food industry has emerged in the 1920s in America. Until that time, the Americans preferred to prepare their own meals at home, but with the rapid industrial growth and development of the automobile industry in the country, they no longer had enough time to cook. Then first restaurants that were selling fast food appeared.
The pioneer in this field was the company White Castle, which has opened in 1921 in Kansas. A specialty of the White Castle was burgers, which at that time was a rarity in America. Potential customers were pleased with stable prices for a meal in spite of the Great Depression, World War II, and inflation. The company in 1946 was selling its hamburgers for five cents.
When some of the visitors began to think about how harmful this food is for their health, Billy Ingram invented a clever move. He has hired a number of young people who, for a small daily fee, would come into the White Castle in white robes and order some hamburgers there. Visitors mistook them for doctors and calmed down. If doctors are eating hamburgers, than they are really safe for health.
In the late 1940s, the first competitors of White Castle appeared. The most serious of them was a young company, called McDonald’s.
It all started very modestly: two brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald were holding a small barbecue restaurant for California motorists. They decided to switch to the production of hamburgers. In 1948, they succeeded, and their revenues have increased. In 1954, they became acquainted with a salesman – Ray Kroc, who offered to open establishments under the same brand across the country. The brothers agreed, and the case went big. In 1956, the U.S. had 14 McDonald’s restaurants, in 1960 – 228, in 1968 – 1000, 1975 – 3076, 1980 – 6263, 1984 – 8300, in 1990 – 11800. Now the corporation McDonalds has more than 30,000 restaurants in 119 countries of the world, while the White Castle has only about 380 restaurants in the U.S.
However, in recent years, the mighty McDonald’s began to experience problems. After the company of fighters for healthy eating, calling to boycott fast food, the sales in the U.S. and other developed countries has been falling, some restaurants were closed.
When people began to talk about chemical additives in meat, the restaurants placed grills in front of public; the buyer himself could trace the process and ensure that hamburgers are natural. Since then, many things have changed: the number of chemical additives has increased, the portions became larger but, as before, people continue to eat at fast food, despite all the restrictions and warnings.
After the war, on boundless open spaces of America, motels, gas stations and roadside cafes appeared. Snack bars were shining with neon signs for many miles, attracting truckers with colorful names like “Crazy Moose” (or even “salmon” if the fish was in the menu) and pretty “Queen of gas stations” – lush girls in white aprons, who carried food to the car window.
These cafes were called “Drive-in”, because in them you could have breakfast almost on the fly, without getting out of the car (Schlosser, 20). In addition to the coffee shop, drive-ins were often equipped with car cinemas, well known to us from youth films, and even … automotive churches!
Quite a few years have passed since then, but this kind of romance did not sink into oblivion. So many modern cafes in America are stylized like drive-ins from the 50s, where the waitresses are dressed in the fashion of the past, carrying food on roller skates, and where you can always order the popular retro music – you should only throw 10-cent coin in the jukebox.
The secret of success lies in McDonald’s special concept of fast food, designed by the brothers. Its secret is simple, like all brilliant – see for yourself! First of all, the menu should include products that are most often purchased by people to trick the appetite: cola, coffee, milkshakes, chips, cakes, and of course, burgers.
Now you can refuse from the services of cooks – all sandwiches came with standard filling: ketchup, onion, mayonnaise and a couple slices of pickled cucumber. No plates, spoons, forks and paper utensils, only in extreme cases – a stick for coffee. Such establishments do not even need a waitress – self-service was introduced in all the restaurants.
Division of labor and automation allowed increasing the speed of cooking in multiple times. Now even a simple student, without special training, could make great burgers on special miracle machine!
Another important key to success is usually politeness – restaurant’s staff was obliged to smile to every visitor. This treatment is very likable, and the statistics say that people choose to buy goods from welcoming sellers.
Great attention was paid to cleanliness – in the absence of visitors, staff was not sitting on their hands, they rubbed floors, tables and chairs to a brilliant shine.
Soon, near all the major roads, near petrol stations and schools, cinemas and supermarkets began to appear brand new restaurants, enticing with big yellow letter “M” on the sloping roof. If in 1960, the number of McDonald’s restaurants barely reached 250, by 1975 – they had over 3000!
McDonald’s is one of firms that spend more money on advertising than it earns. In just one year, the company spent on advertising $ 1.4 billion. Its purpose lays in constantly expanding the consumer audience.
At the time, McDonald brothers relied on family dinners. In the 60’s in America was found of traveling: the whole family traveled around the country. But times change, and Kroc looked at the problem more widely, including in its target not only adults, but also children, rightly judging that by getting used to go to McDonald’s since childhood, the child is unlikely to part with it, because children’s experiences are the brightest!
And McDonald’s opened their doors for children, making a boring dinner a real festival! Every child, who comes into the wonderful restaurant, meets of a good clown Ronald in front of it and inside the baby gets a nice toy brand in the “Happy Meal” set. For many children, this clown was the fabulous MacDonald, who loves children and gives them presents!
To prevent children from the cessation of visits to restaurants, the company wondered how to attract students. For example, many dining rooms are equipped with Wi-Fi internet access, which allows students to learn lessons, without leaving the table in the cafe! For those who do not have home access to the network, they can come to McDonald’s with their laptop in order to drink a glass of cola and to check the mail inbox on Facebook, download the abstract, chat with friends, watch a movie. Even the restaurant’s kitchen equipment signals are stylized to the sounds of ICQ!
Because of its popularity among the youth, McDonald’s often becomes a place for rendezvous. That is why in almost every American film you can see students having a rest, during the breaks between lectures, with a tall glass of cola and red packet of fries from McDonald’s!
A good alternative to McDonalds are the spicy wings of American KFC network (Kentucky Fried Chicken). Although the menu of restaurants is almost similar, KFC’s serves dishes with chicken and has Pepsi instead of Coke.
KFC Company was founded in 1952 in the town of Louisville, Kentucky by its founder Garland Sanders (1890-1980), better known as “Colonel” Sanders. He received this title, not in the army, but as a title of honor, awarded in Kentucky for outstanding service to the community.
Sandwiches, made by American “Subway” company, gained considerable popularity. This company was founded in 1965, by young Fred DeLuca. The motto of “Subway” became the slogan: “Eat Fresh!” and “we do bake bread.”
For the lovers Italian menu there are the Pizza Hut restaurants, which specialize in the American version of pizza and side dishes, such as pasta, chicken wings, bread and garlic bread. The first restaurant was opened in 1958 in the U.S., in the state of Kansas. One distinctive feature of this network is a pizza delivery at home, a fact that greatly contributed to the popularity of the company. Today the restaurants of the world’s largest network of pizzerias are present in more than 100 countries.
Unfortunately, all the doctors and nutritionists share the same opinion – fast food comes in two forms: harmful or very harmful. You cannot eat it regularly.
The main problem is that most of these foods have a very high content of calories, contain a lot of fat and do not have enough vitamins. In particular, this applies to burgers.
Manufacturers of fast food tried make their products with more calories for a long time. To visitors it seemed profitable – they swallowed only one inexpensive burger and had enough. If you make more healthy and wholesome meals, cooking becomes less rapid, and the price of food will rise.
Nevertheless, under public pressure, even the most stubborn of fast food manufacturers were forced to make a step towards healthy eating. For example, McDonald’s introduced salads, juices and mineral water, and made Ronald McDonald look more athletic and fit. Doctors found that the salads from McDonald’s are more harmful than burgers. For example, the “Caesar” salad contains 18.4 grams of fat and a standard cheeseburger – just 11.5 grams. Apparently, they put a high-calorie dressing into the salad.
American documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock decided to experimentally test how American fast food is bad for health. Within a month he had three times a day to eat in “McDonald’s”, and always took double portions that were so generously offered to him by personnel. By the end of the experiment, he gained 12 pounds of excess weight, spoiled his liver and earned a decrease in sexual desire and high cholesterol levels in blood (Spurlock, 5).
When it comes to spoiled or contaminated food, then you can die from anything. If you talk about, so to speak, normal fast food, you will not die of course, but you will seriously damage your health.