Image courtesy of Brian Morger,

In the 1950s and 1960s, America saw rapid growth in the fast food industry. Once a luxury, eating out became a casual experience. Franchises like McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pizza Hut spread across the country, setting a precedent for future chain restaurants and changing the landscape
of American dining. Today you cannot go anywhere in the continental U.S. and be more than 107 miles from a McDonald’s.

The following are interesting facts about how fast food has changed America:

  • In 1970 french fry sales surpassed that of regular potatoes. McDonald’s is the largest purchaser of potatoes in the world; its annual orders make up more than 7% of the nation’s entire potato crop.
  • High-fructose corn syrup was introduced to the food industry in the 1970s. Today the average American consumes more than thirty pounds of high-fructose corn syrup a year.
  • The popularity of drive-thru restaurants led car manufacturers in the 1990s to install cup holders in their dashboards.
  • Americans spend hundreds of billions of dollars on fast food each year.
  • Starbucks, a spinoff of the fast food model, has opened (on average) two new stores every day since 1987.
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