Let’s forget about fast food’s health or lack therof for a moment. The fact of the matter is that we live in a fast-paced society. We are in a perpetual hurry to get to work, to make that appointment, or to meet that deadline. Thus, we have essentially become accustomed to literally eating on the run. Most of us who punch a time clock only have 30 minutes to gulp down our lunch. Rather than taking the time to pack a meal prior to going to work, it has become easier to visit a fast food establishment conveniently located nearby. This especially holds true if you work in a shopping mall. By taking a quick stroll down to the food court, you’ll find so many choices that you can eat from a different menu each day of the week. From the standpoint of price, it is not significantly higher than going to the grocery store and preparing your own meals. In fact, in many cases, it will be about the same. Compare a basic hamburger at McDonald’s at 99 cents to a $5.95 example in a conventional sit-down restaurant, and you’ll get a clearer picture. Fast food has for all intents and purposes become a quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive way to eat out.
Of course, this wasn’t always the case. Just a few decades ago, a family outing to McDonald’s or A & W was looked upon as a special treat. One must take into consideration that there were fewer fast-food places in the beginning. It would be years before they would spring up on virtually every street corner in any city of 5000 inhabitants or more. Slowly but surely, such places began to multilply at a tremendous rate. If Company A could make a go of selling hamburgers, french fries, and milk shakes, then why couldn’t Company B do likewise? As the numbers of these businesses rose, so did their food selection. Before long, chicken, fish, pizza, tacos, burritos, roast beef, subs, pasta, Asian dishes, and even salads and Mandarin oranges became available. As these places and offerings expanded into a permanent fixture upon our landscape, cooking at home became less popular.
And who could really blame anyone? Preparing meals and cooking at home is time-consuming. Moreover, there’s the mess to clean up when finished. There is no disputing that it is far easier to grab a meal through either the drive-up or to sit inside a fast-food establishment for a few minutes. Even when dining in, the wait time for your food will be much shorter than in a traditional restaurant.
Should you refuse to believe that we have indeed become a species that eats on the run, just take a look at what has happened along highways and Interstates. Some of us are old enough to remember when full restaurants were situated just off the exit ramps. Today, these have practically all been replaced by the common fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Wendy’s; just to name a few. Gone are the Howard Johnson’s, the Stuckeys, and the Shoney’s.
Finally, even convenient stores have entered the fast-food market. Many pre-cook cheeseburgers, pizza slices, hot dogs, corn dogs, and breakfast items. However, their taste can be questionable at best!
Today, we are quite simply in a hurry. We have a shorter time in which to grab something to eat. Thus, we want our food now, not 30 or 40 minutes later. Oftentimes, it takes two incomes to make ends meet. After putting in an entire workday, nobody has the time nor inclination to prepare a home-cooked meal. This is why fast food has become a mainstay in modern society. Many of the chains that specialize in these items have made strides in improving the nutritional value of their menu choices. As this continues to gain momentum, who knows?
Home-cooked meals may one day become a quaint relic of the past.