- In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food. In 2014, the spending rose to nearly 200 billion. By 2020, the number is expected to be over $223 billion.
- Proportionally, hash browns have more fat and calories than a cheeseburger or Big Mac.
- During the early 1900s, the hamburger was thought to be polluted, unsafe to eat, and food for the poor. Street carts, not restaurants, typically served them.
- Late comedian and talk-show host Johnny Carson labeled the hamburger the "McClog the Artery."
Children who regularly eat fast food do worse in school than their peers
- Every month, approximately nine out of 10 American children visit a McDonald’s restaurant.
- At some fast food chains, both in U.S. and in other countries, managers are rewarded bonuses when they reduce employee wages to save money.
- To keep salaries low, McDonald’s and other fast food chains have intentionally engaged in anti-union activities.
- Today, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo products are sold in every country in the world, except North Korea.
- In 2005, Advertisting Age cited Ronald McDonald as the number two top-10 advertising icons of the twentieth century. The Marlboro Man was number one.
- The first located printed reference to hamburgers appeared in the Los Angeles Times in 1894.
- There are more than 300,000 fast food restaurants in the U.S. alone.
- Due to anti-German sentiment during WWI, an alternative name for a hamburger (which was derived from the Hamburg steak sandwiches eaten on immigrant ships between Hamburg, Germany, and America in the 1800s) was “salisbury steak.” It was named after Dr. Salisbury who prescribed ground beef for patients suffering from anemia, asthma, and other illnesses.
- The popularization of the automobile resulted in “flashier” fast food restaurant architecture to catch the attention of drivers. This lasted until the 1970s when communities began to complain about the exaggerated buildings.
- A&W Root Beer is named after Roy Allen and Frank Wright, the founders of the company. Allen bought the recipe from a pharmacist who had perfected it for making root beer. A&W was one of the first fast food franchises.
A soda a day can age you by as many as 4.6 additional years
- Caffeine is the most commonly used drug in the world, and high doses can have serious health effects, including muscle weakness, heart irregularities, and infertility. Children and teenagers consume more than 64 gallons of soft drinks per year.
- Television greatly expanded the ability of advertisers to reach children and try to develop brand loyalty early in life. Today the average American child sees more than 10,000 food advertisements each year on television.
- Fast food companies, the movie industry, and theme parks have a long and financially lucrative relationship. The companies seek to promote and “product place” one another for incredible profit. For example, Frito Lay sponsors the California Screamin’ roller coaster at Disneyland, and movies intentionally feature a type of fast food (e.g., Pizza Hut in Wayne’s World).
- Advertising Age selected the McDonald’s slogan “You Deserve a Break Today” as the best advertising campaign of the twentieth century. Other notable slogans were Burger King’s “Burger King, Home of the Whopper” and Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?”
- In 1949, Richard and Maurice McDonald opened the first McDonald’s restaurant in San Bernardino, California: the McDonald Brothers Burger Bar Drive-In.
- McDonald’s is Brazil’s largest employer.
- When McDonald’s opened an outlet in Kuwait shortly after the end of the Gulf War, the line of cars waiting to eat there was seven miles long.
- In 2004, PETA released a video taken at Pilgrim’s Pride, a chicken supplier to fast food restaurants, which showed intense animal cruelty.
- In 1949, Forrest Raffel and his younger brother Leroy created a restaurant that sold roast beef sandwiches. They spelled out the initials “Raffel Brothers (RB) to create the name “Arby’s.”
- Because McDonald’s initially did not want its customers to stay and socialize, they prohibited newspaper boxes, candy machines, telephones, pinball machines, jukeboxes, and other types of entertainment. They also installed uncomfortable chairs to deter customers from lingering.
- The popularization of the drive-thru led car manufacturers in the 1990s to install cup holders in the dashboards. As fast food drinks became larger, so did the cup holders.
- The fast food industry has dramatically affected how cattle and chickens are raised, slaughtered, and processed. It also encouraged consolidation in the meatpacking industry, such that there are now only 13 major meatpackers in America. McDonald’s is the largest purchaser of beef and has great influence over meatpacking practices.
Chickens account for over 90% of the nearly 10 billion land animals killed for food each year in the United States
- A genetically engineered hormone called rBGH is given to cows in the U.S. to increase milk production—even though its chemical byproducts may be carcinogenic. Residues of rBGH have been found in meat products, such as hamburgers sold in fast food chains.
- Carl Karcher of Anaheim, California, launched Carl’s Jr in 1956. They were mini versions of the restaurant he already owned and, hence, he called them Carl’s Jr.
- Coca-Cola originally included coca derivatives such as cocaine in their sodas, which at the time was not illegal. It was originally served as a “brain tonic and intellectual soda fountain beverage.”
- Critics of fast food argue that it advocates a pernicious consumerism that destroys both the environment and health of the world. Some critics warn of “the McDonaldization of America” in which fast food chains threaten small businesses and homogenize American life.
- The spread of E.coli and mad cow disease are just a few of the dozen examples of food-born pathogens linked to beef. Some meatpackers have considered radiating meat to kill the bacteria in tainted meat. Some scholars also claim hamburger meat may cause Alzheimer’s disease.
- Eating fast food can result in high levels of insulin, which has been linked to rising incidences of Type 2 Diabetes. In fact, more than 600,000 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed each year.
- Two fast food chains claim to have opened the first drive-ins: Pig Stand, which opened in 1921 in Texas, and A&W Root Beer, which launched in California in 1919.
The White Castle "slider" is one of the most influential burgers of all time
- White Castle, started by J. Walter Anderson and Edgar Waldo “Billy” Ingram, is considered to be the first fast food restaurant. Its major product was a hamburger, which had been sold as sandwiches by street vendors since the 1890s.
- The combination of french fries and hamburgers is a continuation of the “meat and potatoes” mentality that has been the core of American food since the eighteenth century.
- Burger King’s Double Whopper with cheese contains 923 calories. A man would need to walk for about nine miles to burn it off. Adding french fries and a large cola brings the total calories to an amazing 1,500 calories (2/3 of an adult man’s recommended daily caloric intake).
- When it was revealed in 1990 that McDonald’s used beef tallow to flavor its french fries, Hindu vegetarian customers in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, ransacked a McDonald’s restaurant and smeared cow dung on a statue of Ronald MacDonald.
- French fries are the single most popular fast food in America. In 1970, french fries surpassed regular potato sales in the United States. In 2004, Americans ate 7.5 billion pounds of frozen french fries.
Three of the Most Unhealthy French Fries
|Type||Calories||Fat (g)||Sodium (mg)||Trans fat (g)|
|Arby’s Curly Fries||631||37||1,476||1|
|McDonald’s Regular Fries||570||30||330||8|
|Dairy Queen Regular Fries||730||33||1,530||5|
- In-N-Out Burger is one of the few fast food restaurants that actually slice each potato by hand shortly before it is placed in the deep fryer.
- When France refused to join the American-led coalition against Iraq, some Republicans argued that the name french fries be changed to “liberty fries.”
- Hamburgers are not served in India out of respect for Hindu religious beliefs, and beer is served at McDonald’s in Germany.
- The invention of the meat grinder in the mid nineteenth century gave rise to the hamburger. Currently, between 40,000 and 50,000 meatpackers, many of whom pack meat for fast food chains, are injured every year, making meatpacking one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States.
- Among the first fast food mascots was Big Boy, a plump boy with red-and-white checkered overalls with the words “Big Boy” spread across his chest. The first McDonald’s mascot was “Speedee,” a little chef with a hamburger hat. McDonald’s later settled on the iconic Ronald McDonald—and today 96% of American children recognize him.
McDonald's fries contains 19 ingredients, including an anti-foaming chemical that keeps oil from splattering
- McDonald’s is the largest purchaser of beef, pork, and potatoes and the second largest purchaser of chicken in the world. Its annual orders for french fries constitute 7.5% of America’s entire potato crop.
- McDonald’s is one of the largest owners of real estate in the world and it earns the majority of its profits from collecting rent, not from selling food.
- By the end of the twentieth century, one out of eight American workers had at some time been employed by McDonald’s and 96% of Americans had visited McDonald’s at least once. It was also serving an estimated 22 million Americans every day and even more abroad.
- High-fructose corn syrup (which tricks your body into wanting to eat more and to store more fat) first appeared in 1967, and the average American now consumes 63 pounds of it a year. It is ubiquitous in fast foods.
- Dangerous fast food ingredients that have been linked to various cancers and/or obesity includes MSG, trans fat, sodium nitrite, BHA, BHT, propyl gallate, aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Olestra, potassium bromate, and food coloring Blue 1 and 2, Red 3, Green 3, and Yellow 6.
- Burger King’s Triple Whopper with cheese has an amazing 1,230 calories. Hardies Monster Thickburger has 1,420 calories. Carl’s Jr.’s Double Six hamburger has 1,520 calories and 111 grams of fat. Most people need only 44-66 grams of fat per day, and most of them should come from sources like nuts, fish, and olive oil.
Three of the Most Unhealthy Hamburgers
|Type||Calories||Fat (g)||Sodium (mg)||Trans fat (g)|
|Carl’s Jr. Double Six Dollar Burger||1,520||111||2,760||Unknown|
|Hardee’s Monster Thickburger||1,420||108||2,770||Unknown|
|Hardee’s Bacon Cheese Thickburger||1,300||97||2,200||Unknown|
- The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of no more than 2 grams of trans fat per day. A person should eat no more than 1,000-3,000 mg of sodium per day. Men need about 2,700 calories a day, while women need about 2,000 per day.
Recommended Daily Servings
|Calories||Men: 2,700; Women: 2,000|
|Fat||44-66 grams (should come from nuts, fish, olive oil, etc)|
|Trans fat||2 grams|
- Some of the healthier fast food choices include Arby’s Light Roast Chicken Sandwich (276 calories, 7 grams of fat, 777 mg sodium, 33 mg cholesterol), Burger King’s Chunky Chicken Salad (142 calories, 4 grams of fat, 443 mg sodium, 49 mg cholesterol), Wendy’s Chili (210 calories, 7 grams of fat, 800 mg sodium, 30 mg cholesterol), and McDonald’s Vanilla Shake (310 calories, 5 grams of fat, 170 mg sodium, 25 mg cholesterol).
- A McDonald’s’ corn muffin has more calories than a glazed donut. A small packet of Wendy’s honey mustard dressing has 280 calories.
Since its beginnings in the 1950s, fast food has grown into a $255 billion industry
- The rise in the fast food industry has been linked to rising cases of obesity. The CDC estimates that 248,000 Americans die prematurely due to obesity and considers obesity as the number two cause of preventable death in the US (the #1 cause is smoking).
- In 1965, a college student named Fred De Luca and family friend Dr. Peter Buck started Subway in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The first restaurant was called Pete’s Super Submarines. Subway currently is located in 87 countries.
- Today, Americans consume approximately 70 million “tater tots” a year. They were created to utilize potato shreds left over from french fry production. The film Napoleon Dynamite (2004) popularized them even more. To burn off one serving (3 oz) of tater tots would take about 67 minutes of walking.
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2"Food Awareness." Calorie King. 2008. Accessed: May 29, 2009.
3Jakle, John and Keith A. Sculle. Fast Food: Roadside Restaurants in the Automobile Age. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press, 1999.
4Ritzer, George. The McDonaldization of Society 5. Los Angeles, CA: Pine Forge Press, 2008.
5Smith, Andrew F. Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006.
6Spurlock, Morgan. Fast Food and the Supersizing of America. New York, NY: Penguin Group (USA) Inc, 2005.
7"Statistics and Facts about the Fast Food Industry." Statista. 2016. Accessed: October 1, 2016.
8Talwar, Jennifer Parker. Fast Food, Fast Track: Immigrants, Big Business, and the American Dream. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2002.
9Waldman, Murray (M.D.) and Marjorie Lamb. Dying for a Hamburger: Modern Meat Processing and the Epidemic of Alzheimer’s Disease. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2004.