--Definition of Fast Food--
Fast food is food that can be prepared and served very quickly. Stereotypical restaurant fast food is cooked in bulk and in advance and kept warm, or reheated to order. Fast food can also include TV dinners and other foods that can be cooked easily by the consumer, and food from restaurants that cook their food to order but specialize in doing so quickly.
Many fast-food restaurants, (also known as "Quick Service Restaurants" or QSR) are part of restaurant chains or franchise operations, and standardized foodstuffs are shipped to each restaurant from central locations. There are also simpler fast-food outlets, such as stands or kiosks, which may or may not provide shelter or chairs for customers.
Because the capital requirements to start a fast-food restaurant are relatively small, particularly in areas with non-existent or poorly enforced health codes, small individually-owned fast-food restaurants have become common throughout the world. Restaurants such as Culver's, Noodles, Ivar's, Skippers, and in-store grocery delis where the customer's can sit down and have their food orders brought to them, are considered fast food and Fast casual restaurants.
--Fast food in America--
The modern history of fast-food in America began on July 7, 1912 with the opening of a fast food restaurant called the Automat in New York. The Automat was a cafeteria with its prepared foods behind small glass windows and coin-operated slots. Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart had already opened an Automat in Philadelphia, but their “Automat” at Broadway and 13th Street, in New York City, created a sensation. Numerous Automat restaurants were quickly built around the country to deal with the demand. Automats remained extremely popular throughout the 1920's and 1930's. The company also popularized the notion of “take-out” food, with their slogan “Less work for Mother".
The American company White Castle is generally credited with opening the second fast-food outlet in Wichita, Kansas in 1921, selling hamburgers for five cents apiece. Among its innovations, the company allowed customers to see the food being prepared. White Castle later added five holes to each beef patty to increase its surface area and speed cooking times. White Castle was successful from its inception and spawned numerous competitors.
--Fast food Industries--
Many people believe that fast food is not only synonymous with the American lifestyle, but also had its origins in the United States, and that it is a modern phenomenon. To some degree, these beliefs are understandable when one considers the significant impact on traditional cultures that the American media has had, that the term “fast food” did not appear in the popular vocabulary until 1954 (followed by “take-out food” in 1962), the success of McDonald’s since Ray Kroc took over management control in 1955, and that the top ten global fast-food brands are US-owned and generate sales of over US$75 billion collectively.
--Brief History on "The Big 3"--
McDonald's is the biggest fast-food corporation in the world. It was founded in 1940's by Dick and Mac McDonald. Their restaurant started as a walk-up barbeque store but eventually changed its form to serve simpler menu to accomodate their customers. Immediate, inexpensive burgers were instant hit as a restaurant, and named their production method as "Speedee Service System" Later, Kroc further worked on their concept to make their way into mass market.
Burger King is the world's second largest hamburger restaurant chain. It has a total franchise of 11, 220 restaurants in 61 countries worldwide. Canada has been and continues to be a big part of Burger King's success. The company, today has more than 340,000 employees who serve approximately 11.4 million customers daily. Every day, about 1,072 customers are served per restaurant, or approximately 11.8 million customers worldwide. More than 2.1 billion hamburgers are sold at Burger King restaurants annually. Burger King Holdings had revenues of $2.0 billion in fiscal 2006 and net income of $27 million. The company expects to open 400 new stores in 2007.
Dave Thomas founded his restaurant in 1969, naming it after one of his daughters' nickname. The restaurant developed into chains, and by 1985, there were 3,000 locations in the States. Wendy's was the first fast-food chain restaurant to serve their producdt throught "drive-through" window.
Above articles are sourced from
Talwar, Jennifer (2003). Fast Food, Fast Track: Immigrants, Big Business, and the American Dream. Westview Press
Schlosser, Eric (2001). Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Houghton Mifflin Books.
Riches, Derrick. The History of Hamburgers. About.com
Levinstein, Harvey. Paradox of Plenty: a Social History of Eating in Modern America. Berkeley: University of California P, 2003. 228-229.
Supriya, Sharon. Worlds best fast food chains - Burger King. Oneindia.in
Fast-food Industry. MSN Encarta.