The Mythical Concept of Fast Food

buzzard[1]Almost five decades ago, I was just a high school student looking for a way to make some money for all the extras I wanted.  Back in the ‘60’s, wages were low, but worth more than they are today.  I was able to convince my friend, Bob, to ask his older brother for a job at a fast food restaurant called “The Duchess.”

I was hired and was put in charge of the coffee, fries and washing pots and pans.  That lasted about two weeks.  Being across town without a vehicle and the boredom of the job, I just quit.  It was a frustrating time for me as I wanted a decent job.  Eventually I did find a job, which I will later provide.

In my hometown in Connecticut, McDonalds was the first franchised fast food restaurant that was opened in 1967.  Burgers were 18₵, cheeseburgers 19₵, fries 15₵, Fish sandwich 18₵, Shakes 20₵, Sodas 10₵ and 15₵, and coffee 5₵.  They did offer double burgers and cheeseburgers for less than double the price.   There was no drive up at this one and it was so popular that the parking was chaotic due to the lack of parking spaces.  However, this was certainly a fast food restaurant.  It was the best deal for a meal under a buck.

A couple of years later Burger King showed up, as well as a Dairy Queen with a Brazier Grill for food orders.  We did have a Friendly’s in town and a Farm Shop in the next town, but the popularity of the burger joints was exceptional along with the prices.  These were the original fast food franchises in all their glory.

Today the fast food franchise is nothing but a myth.  Think about the times you went to a few in the last couple of months.  Do you go inside or do you use the drive up?  How long do you have to wait in line inside or in a car line waiting to get to the drive up window and still wait for your order?  Lastly, how often is your order lacking or items missing at either area as a takeout rather than sitting in the restaurant?

As a joke, I ordered at the intercom at the Burger King drive up and added, “I would like my burger to look like it is pictured in the ad.  The person, it just so happened to be the manager, asked. Are you serious?”  I answered, “No, but it was a thought.”

These are the questions you have to ask yourself as well as how much are you spending for a family of four?  Is the wait worth it? Is the price worth it?  These are always valid questions to ask ourselves.  Perhaps I can expand on that concept and possibly opine about that part of our eating endeavors.

Why aren’t these restaurants fast food?  It is because they offer way too many things on their menu.  They are constantly changing their menu to compete with all the other franchises in today’s marketplace.  They have gone from simplicity to complexity with burgers in all different stages, fish, chicken, Mexican, wraps, and extra types of sides.  Why can’t they just serve what they know?

Their envy of the other competitors began an evolution bringing war for marketplace domination.  It exists in a time warp to gain a better piece of the industry’s fast food market share. What prohibits consumer favorability is the cost of their “meal packages” on their menus. And their dollar menus were incorporated because of those high prices. Higher food prices were created because they spend billions on advertising agencies to process all types of media promotions.

In today’s market, I’m sure that the adult consumers can see for themselves what they prefer to eat without extensive promotions and ad agency costs.

Personally, I haven’t eaten at a McDonalds for almost 30 years.  Mostly because their burgers have no taste and the cheaper ones taste like cardboard.  I can tolerate Burger King and Wendy’s, but Wendy’s prices are worse than Burger King’s.

Often, I would rather eat at a local diner or restaurant.  They serve quicker and there is more of a food variety than fast food franchises.  It is often cheaper and you get more than your money’s worth. The wait is shorter, the atmosphere better, unless you go to one that is extremely popular and the people (mostly senior citizens) flock there continuously.

I always wondered how much better they could do with having less variety, cutting prices in half for a month, and see what the outcome would be.  I would bet they make more money on quantity sales rather than the quantity on their higher prices.  They should know by now how their dollar menu amounts add up per month.

I had to write about this after I read an article in today’s newspaper about Burger King’s “new Big King” burger, a pseudo-clone of the Big Mac from McDonalds.  As I said before, grasping for more market share. So the next time you feel like some “fast food” think about it, consider your options and then go and eat.

Oh, and to answer what job I ended up with at 17, I was asked to teach kids music theory, music harmony and accordion to kids at a private music school right across from where I spent most of my time after school, the YMCA.   There I volunteered teaching kids, gymnastics, swimming, basketball and taking them on trips.  But that is another story so eat well and be happy with your choices.


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