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The Fast Food Revolution

Nov 13, 2023
fast food revolution

Who invented fast food?

Amid the chaos of everyday life, fast food has become a normal part of American cuisine. From drive-throughs to renowned golden arches, the beginning of fast food links progress, comfort, and a changing way of life. Let’s take a trip back in time and figure out the origin of fast food. But the question is, who invented fast food? 

The First Fast Food Restaurant

Developed gradually through the efforts of a variety of individuals and places, no one person can take credit for the invention of fast food. In 1921, the birth of White Castle in Wichita, Kansas resulted in a dramatic transformation for the fast-food industry. Co-founder Billy Ingram and cook Walter Anderson were the pioneers of the idea of a standard menu, efficient production line, and a dependable dining experience. Through their efforts, they created a fast and affordable way for people to enjoy burgers. This became the precursor of the modern fast-food industry.

Fast Food Revolution: Drive-Thru

What evolved Fast Food even better was the invention of the drive-thru. Kirby’s Pig Stand was the first eatery to allow customers to dine in or use a drive-thru service. It opened in Dallas-Fort Worth in 1921 and featured carhops, where customers were delivered food while staying in their cars. Jesse Kirby had a catchphrase, “A delightful meal, served at your wheel.” This reflected his belief that people were so relaxed they didn’t want to leave their autos to eat. His goal to serve as many customers as possible resulted in the invention of the drive-thru window. The idea was genius that the rest of the fast food industry played along. It’s definitely adding up to road traffic now, but that’s how you know business is doing good.

How did McDonald’s start the fast food revolution? Talk about a Big Mac attack!

Talk about a Big Mac attack. Let’s just say they flipped the burger industry on its head! The way Henry Ford revolutionized the automobile industry, the McDonald brothers, Richard and Maurice McDonald, did the same for fast food. They broke down processes into easy, repeatable tasks, allowing them to make food fast, inexpensively, and consistently. This was a unique concept at the time called the Speedee Service System.

Fast Food Revolution: A Vision Brought to Life

The McDonald brothers laid the groundwork for the fast food industry. But it was Ray Kroc who elevated it to a whole new level. In 1954, Kroc, who was a salesman for Multimixer milkshake machines, could get the McDonald brothers to grant him the rights to franchise their business. Under Kroc’s guidance, McDonald’s quickly rose to prominence, becoming an icon of American dining and spreading across the United States. Kroc’s revolutionary franchise model went on to have a major impact on how other fast-food chains would grow in the future.

Unlimited Fast Food

At the same time, Colonel Harland Sanders made KFC famous globally in the 1930s with his unique combination of herbs and spices and his franchising ideas. This success was mirrored by other franchises such as Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. This proved that fast food didn’t have to be limited to hamburgers and fries.

Fast Food Hits the Globe—It’s a World-Wide Fry!

During the latter decades of the 20th century, fast food companies from America started to branch out to other countries. They brought with them not only their food but also their idea of quick service. McDonald’s, like we mentioned before, became an emblem of American power worldwide, with its signature golden arches visible in locations from Tokyo to Paris.