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The Fast Food Epidemic Essay

3230 words - 13 pages

"The rise of the fast-food industry transformed American eating habits in the second half of the twentieth century" (Schlosser 8). Almost everywhere you look you'll see a familiar sign symbolizing our "fast food nation." You find them in airports, malls, schools, and gas stations, on the corners of streets, off the side of interstates, near your local shopping center, and even in hospitals. There is no way of getting around them. In 1970 Americans spent $6 billion on french fries alone; the year 2000, Americans spent over $110 billion (Gingras np). During any given day of the week, 3 out of 4 children eat fast food meals (one or more) times a day, which is the foundation of harmful effects to mind and body of any child (Schlosser np). The fast food industry has created an epidemic of obesity that reaches and affects the lives of millions, everywhere and of every age. In the 1970's, Americans spent a quarter of their food dollar eating out. Today, that figure has topped 40 percent (Greenblatt np). Americans now spend more money on fast food than they do on higher education, personal computers, software or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos and recorded music - combined (Krantz np). The fast food industry, which began as a vision of a pioneer, has transformed into a new paradigm where children are endangered by the harmful physical, emotional, and psychological effects of unhealthy food and targeted advertising.In 1954, a fifty-two-year-old milkshake machine salesman saw a hamburger stand in San Bernardino, California, and envisioned a massive new industry: fast food. In what should have been his golden years, Raymond Kroc, the founder and builder of McDonald's Corporation, proved himself an industrial pioneer, in the ranks of Henry Ford. He revolutionized the American restaurant industry by imposing discipline on the production of hamburgers, french fries, and milkshakes. By developing a sophisticated operating and delivery system, he assured that french fries bought in Topeka would be the same as the ones purchased in New York City. Such consistency made McDonald's the brand name that has defined American fast food. One of the most pervasive effects is the spread of chain stores which have enjoyed remarkable success in expansion. The fast-food chains now constitute a phenomenal industry. (Schlosser np)By 1960, there were more than 200 McDonald's outlets across the country, "a rapid expansion fueled by low franchising fees" (Schlosser 162) Ray Kroc had created one of the most recognizable brands of all time. Through rapid growth and extensive advertising, McDonald's in the early 1970s became the nation's largest fast-food chain and an integral aspect of the American cultural landscape. The supreme ruler of "McDonald land", Ray Kroc, became a figure of vast national stature. In 1972, more than 2,200 McDonald's outlets racked up $1 billion in sales (Homier np).Fast food by this time was now a...

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