The American food industry has evolved in ways that may not be distinguishable to the human palate, but hopefully remain distinguishable to the human conscience. With all the options now available to company executives, citizens must be sure to keep them from abusing their powers and continuing to harm employees, mistreat animals, and kill consumers. The best ways are to promote public discourse and to make the most of the power of the consumer by thoughtfully deciding where to spend their hard-earned dollars.
To understand where the fast food industry is today, we must look at the technological advances that allowed it to reach that point. Technology has been an integral force in the rise of the fast food culture. In fact, it was a technological advancement that first brought the fast food industry to life.
When the McDonald brothers opened-up their first restaurants, they served people and made a modest profit. However, one day a traveling salesman walked through their door and presented them with the opportunity to buy a machine that would enable them to make five milkshakes at one time. He also offered them the chance to buy other machines that would speed-up food production. Who was this traveling salesman? His name was Ray Kroc. Kroc later offered to buy the rights to the McDonald brother’s restaurants and the deal went through. Kroc outfitted the restaurants with technology that allowed for the mass production of its food. Like Henry Ford automated the automobile manufacturing industry, Ray Kroc can be considered the man who took restaurant food and made it fast food.
The next major innovation to contribute to fast food’s development was the automobile. In the 1950s, when owning a car become common, families were anxious to get out and about in their new wheels. People were willing to spend greater amounts of time away from their homes and became frequent patrons of restaurants. Not more than a few years later, a new wave swept over the nation. In response to people’s desire to spend more time in their automobiles, fast food merchants created drive-in service. Customers were soon served the “all-American meal” in the comfort of their own cars. Later, this evolved into the drive-in service that we enjoy today.
As a result of America’s ‘car culture’, restaurant owners started building great numbers of restaurants, often placing them near highways and main streets. The new restaurants were designed to be easily recognizable from the road and were built uniformly in architecture and color scheme. Advertising efforts were also increased. The idea behind these innovations was to make the consumers feel that wherever they went they would feel comforted by seeing a familiar building and be induced to eat there. However, there was another, not so obvious reason. In building these restaurants all over the country, placing multiple franchises in the same town, owners made fast food something more than...