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The end of Fast Foods !

Fast food is a means of fast food that has revolutionized the food industry and everyone's way of eating. It’s primary goal is to save customer’s time by ordering fast food such as burgers, sandwiches, tacos, ... Thanks to its affordable prices and its gourmet menu, it has become one of the most profitable businesses in the world ($ 21,025 billion in turnover for McDonalds in 2018). However, wanting to eat cheaply has its consequences. These restaurants are partly responsible for the rising obesity rate in the United States and Europe. Fast foods are very controversial. Now closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, can people do without these fast food restaurants? How did fast foods manage to conquer the world, or even France?

The boom in fast foods appeared with the growth of the service sector. The concept was first born in the United States. In 1937, a hot dog stand called "The Airdrome" was the first created concept of fast food. Patrick McDonald was behind this concept and it was only three years later that his two sons Richard and Maurice McDonald took over the family business and relocated the restaurant to San Bernardino, California. They call it "McDonald's Restaurants". This is when one of the most significant business stories of the 20th century began. One of the oldest McDonald's restaurants opened in 1953 in Phoenix, is the first to present the design of the 2 golden arches.

Phoenix's McDonald's in 1953

A few years later, the entrepreneur Ray Kroc gradually bought the family business to make it a grandiose business according to his conception. It was therefore in April 1955 that the first McDonald's franchise opened its doors in the suburbs of Chicago. Then the company continued to grow and was later renamed McDonald’s Corporation. In 1961, it was written that "the two brothers, who wish to maintain a small number of restaurants in franchise, sell their company to Ray Kroc for 2,7 million dollars. The negotiation of royalties up to 1% never been respected by McDonald's. " This man boosted the company's marketing and McDonald’s began to sell exponential quantities of its products. In 1965, the chain went public, and 5 years later, it set out to conquer the whole world (New Zealand, Guatemala, France, etc.).

Ray Kroc eating a hamburger in front of one of his McDonalds

In the early 1960s, a French industrialist, Jacques Borel, saw the potential of this type of consumption and decided to import it into France. Franchisee of Wimpy, a British fast food chain based on the American model, came its way into France. Wimpy being the first hamburger restaurant in France, attracted the public’s attention. The restaurants opened one after the other fairly quickly. Even as the business was going well, a disagreement between Jacques Borel and Lyons (the parent company of Wimpy) interrupted this business in 1969; the twenty restaurants therefore closed.

A Wimpy in Paris

Despite this failure in France, the American giant McDonald’s set out to conquer the country of gastronomy. Helped by the French businessman Raymond Dayan, the first fast food with yellow arches opened its doors on June 30th, 1972 in Créteil, followed a few weeks later by a second, on the Champs Elysées. However, the chain struggled to find its customers. It had a difficult start up until the 1980s, when turnover began to grow gradually. The brand reinvented itself several times and adapted its menu according to the countries where it is

established, to win over local customers. In India, the sandwiches are exclusively chicken and fish, to respect the customs of the country. The French McDonalds are the only ones to have a stand selling pastries and salads,...In addition to McDonald's, other fast food chains are being created around the globe. In Europe, the best known are Subway, Burger King, Quick (bought by Burger King in 2015) or KFC.

Fast foods have clearly established itself as a new type of food consumption over the years. In its beginnings (from the 70s to the 90s) the concept was only created to save people time and money. Customers could eat a full dish for a sum ranging from 5 to 10 euros in just a short time (no need for cutlery, sandwiches already prepared, etc.). Back then, there weren't as many restaurant chains as there are today. To eat a sandwich, a croque-monsieur, ... the clientele turned to individuals, merchants specializing in the field. Fast foods have turned everything upside down. The population knew that the food offered in these places was not exaclty dietetic, but it was not really yet considered as "junk-food" (bad food). Nobody saw the negative effects. Today, that vision has changed for most of us. This type of fast food is very controversial.

Accused of being mediocre, dietarily harmful, with too much sugar and fat, it is responsible for many cases of obesity and cardiovascular problems. The problem comes from profitability; to make money, it is necessary to lower the price of raw materials, and therefore have recourse to food from the agro-industry, therefore using processed products being potentially dangerous for health. This industry pollutes enormously because the meats and fish come from industrial farming which overexploit resources. In addition, the use of disposable single-use packaging made of non-biodegradable materials, such as plastic or polystyrene, aggravates this situation. Also, the desire to make maximum profits leads to very low wages for employees. Fast foods therefore spend their time reinventing themselves and improving their functioning to save their image. For example, recently McDonald's has removed straws from its restaurants and given more emphasis to straws and cardboard packaging.

Fast foods are therefore new restaurants that have changed the landscape to meet an ever-increasing demand. But while the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting the world hard, shops, restaurants, etc., fast-food restaurants are closing their doors. A sudden stop for major brands. In France, some fast food restaurants have reopened following the containment, while others remain closed and may or may not offer take-out. The situation is currently the same in the United States. The world of "junk food" restaurants is therefore at a standstill and while some manage to live normally without fast food, it is more complicated for others, …

Fast foods are a type of restaurant that allows its customers to eat quickly and fully for cheap. So beware, even if their concept is tempting. Enjoying yourself from time to time by eating a burger from one of these chains is not bad for your health, but in no case should this consumption become a habit; do not abuse! And you, what do you think of the evolution of fast food in the years to come?


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