Have you ever wondered where the term fast food and fast food franchise originated from?
Food that is prepared and served in a very fast way is commonly considered and given the term Fast Food. Only a food that has a short preparation time can be considered fast food. Typically the term refers to food sold in stores or restaurants with precooked or preheated ingredients, and served to the customer in a wrapped or packaged form for take away or take outs. Merriam Webster was the person to first recognized the term ‘’fast food’’ in a dictionary in 1951.
Restaurants have existed in some form for most of human civilization, but they usually catered to travellers in a sit down environment where food wasn’t a priority to be served as fast as possible but to rather just to accommodate their guests in comfortable surroundings. As far back as the prehistoric Greeks and Romans, restaurants, taverns and inns generally served food to people who had a reason to be away from home, this trend persisted until relatively recently where modern entrepreneurs started seeing the potential opportunity for a fast food outlet in the market.
The idea of eating out for an enjoyable time didn’t take off in the western society until the late 18h century, although in the 17th century coffee-houses and taverns were trendy places to get together and share food and drinks. Some people think of White Castle (founded in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas) as the first fast-food chain, although McDonald’s was the first restaurant to use the assembly-line system which substantially improved the production speed.
White Castle’s founders decided to change the public’s perception of hamburgers being sold at circuses, fairs, lunch counters and carts to be low in quality. A lot of people thought that hamburger patties were put together from slaughterhouse scraps and spoiled meat. To change that perception White Castle built their restaurants so that customers could see how their food was being prepared (similar to today’s Max Box fish and chips franchise) which resulted in people slowly changing their negative mindset. To suggested cleanliness and transparency they even carefully chose the name and painted their buildings white.
In 1948 the famous McDonald brothers opened their first redesigned fast food restaurant. There after a number of fast food chains that exists today opened soon after. Taco Bell and Burger King made their debut in the 1950’s, as well as Wendy’s opened in 1969. There after the concept of franchising restaurants like pizza, fish and chips and other food franchises mushroomed across the globe into many different industries.
Restaurants like KFC and Jack in the Box existed before the speedy service system came into place, but adjusted their cooking and preparation techniques after its first appearance.
In today’s time McDonald’s in known to be the world’s largest fast-food restaurant chain in the world having an estimate of 30 000 franchises in more than 120 countries.