The Automat: Birth of a Fast Food Nation

The Automat: Birth of a Fast Food Nation

“New Method of Lunching,” cried out the advertisement to readers of the July 2, 1912, edition of The New York Times. “Try It! You’ll Like It!!” the ad promised.

Curious—and hungry—readers who followed the culinary entreaties and stepped inside the Horn & Hardart Company’s “Automat Lunch Room” in Times Square for its grand opening a century ago found a high-tech, self-service wonder. A gigantic, coin-operated vending machine with row upon row of windowed compartments, resembling glass-fronted post office boxes, housed dozens of menu items. After window shopping, customers could drop a nickel into a coin slot, turn a knob, lift up the door and help themselves to their food.

Instant gratification.

Horn & Hardart’s sleek, coin-operated cafeteria had more slots than a Las Vegas casino, but these machines delivered guaranteed payoffs: sandwiches, slices of pie and comfort food from macaroni and cheese to chicken potpie to tapioca pudding. Nimble-fingered cashiers wearing rubber tips dispensed nickels through the recessed dishes of their glass-enclosed booths. Behind the scenes, invisible kitchen workers quickly refilled empty compartments like magic. Joe Horn and Frank Hardart’s Automat was a marvel of efficiency that revolutionized the American food service industry.

Horn and Hardart, who had first opened a luncheonette together in 1888, imported the concept of an automated restaurant from Germany and unveiled America’s first Automat in Philadelphia in 1902, ushering in the country’s fast food era. A decade later, they expanded to Manhattan. And while their Times Square eatery wasn’t New York City’s first coin-operated cafeteria, Horn & Hardart Automats quickly flourished in the Big Apple.

The speed and efficiency of the Automat were godsends to city workers who were given less and less time for a lunch break in fast-paced New York. With no waiters to tip and prices for most dishes at five or 10 cents, the Automats held economic appeal for working-class and frugal diners. And unlike the elitist dining rooms that had dominated the American culinary scene, the Automats were simple and democratic.

Not all foodies of the early 20th century celebrated the rise of the Automat. “The number of cheap quick-fire food hells is appalling,” bemoaned James Huneker in The New York Times in 1914. “Eating and drinking are rapidly entering the category of the lost fine arts,” he lamented. “The young folk nowadays are not epicures… They are in too much of a hurry to dance or to ride, to sit long at table and dine with discrimination.”

Surely to Huneker’s displeasure, the Automat entered its heyday after Prohibition killed the saloons and their free lunches and the Great Depression crimped bank accounts. At its height, Horn & Hardart was the world’s largest restaurant chain, feeding hundreds of thousands every day in more than 80 locations in New York City and Philadelphia.

While Horn & Hardart Automats delivered food quickly, meals were made from scratch using fresh, high-quality ingredients. Items were prepared shortly before they were eaten, and food was not allowed to linger overnight. Freshly squeezed orange juice that sat for two hours was poured down the drain.

The resplendent surroundings of the Horn & Hardart Automats—with marble counters and floors, stained glass, chrome fixtures, ornately carved ceilings and Art Deco signage—more resembled Parisian bistros than sterile, dingy fast food outlets. Food was served on real china and eaten with solid flatware. The coffee flowed from silver dolphin spouts that Joseph Horn found in Italy. And that French-drip coffee, always piping hot and potent, was Horn & Hardart’s most popular item. It was freshly brewed every 20 minutes, and until 1950 it cost only a nickel a cup.

As New York City’s population began to decline in the 1950s, so did Horn & Hardart’s prospects. The Automats struggled in what was no longer a five-and-dime world. With inflation pushing the price of items higher and higher, the coin-operated machines were no longer efficient or practical. Quality declined, and the fast food chains spawned by the Automats began to eat their lunch. Horn & Hardart itself purchased Burger King and Arby’s franchises, along with Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits. Finally, in 1991 in New York City, the glass doors of the last Horn & Hardart Automat shuttered forever.

The Automat lives on in fond memories, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History includes a section of the original Horn & Hardart Automat that opened in Philadelphia in 1902. In addition, the New York Public Library is now featuring a reconstructed wall of an Automat machine as part of Lunch Hour NYC, a new exhibition that runs through February 2013. Visitors can peek around back where workers once loaded food and open up the Automat’s glass doors. While tasty treats won’t be waiting, the next best things are: recipe cards for making Horn & Hardart’s signature dishes.


Today’s Food History

1822 Paul Henderson was born. A Scottish-American scientist, known as the ‘Father of America Horticulture,’ he published ‘Gardening for Profit’ and ‘Gardening for Pleasure’.

1822 Charles Graham received the first patent for false teeth.

1869 Charles Elmer Hires begins selling his root beer in Philadelphia.

1900 Fred Waring, musician, was born. Frederick Osius worked on improving the electric blender, and went to Waring for financial backing. Waring backed its development, in part, so he could puree raw vegetables for the ulcer diet his doctors prescribed. The Waring Blender (originally called the Miracle Mixer) debuted in 1937 and sold for $29.75. By 1954 one million Waring Blendors had been sold.

1902 Frank Hardart and Joe Horn opened the first Automat on June 9, 1902 at 818 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. The birth date of modern fast food.

1911 Carry Amelia Nation died. Famous temperance movement activist, she was well known for destroying saloons with a hatchet.

1924 ‘Jelly-Roll Blues’ was recorded by blues great Jelly Roll Morton.

1934 Donald Duck’s first appearance.

1953 John H. Kraft received a patent for the manufacture of soft surface cured cheese.


Every Plate Tells a Story: Horn and Hardart

At the turn of the last century, the potteries along the Ohio River were working overtime to fulfill rapidly increasing orders – bricks for streets, clay products for drainage, durable toilet wares, and dinnerware. American potteries had developed new production methods and, importantly for consumers, the china produced was equal to the wares produced in England. There was a celebratory air in the potteries as described by editors in business journals.

In Beaver Falls, the annual holiday loaf was brief. Indeed, the customary holiday inactivity which extended from December 24 to January 3 gave way to a short holiday break. The economic boom was no less evident on the streets of cities. Two entrepreneurs, Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart, opened a luncheonette in Philadelphia automated equipment imported from Germany. City workers with little time for lunch filled the restaurants – they claimed one out of sixteen people ate once a day in a Horn & Hardart.

Two entrepreneurs, Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart, opened a luncheonette in Philadelphia with automated equipment. City workers with little time for lunch filled the restaurants. Soon, Horn & Hardart prepared food for carry-out by the consumer.

Messiers Horn and Hardart did not cut corners – they offered fresh food prepared carefully. In The Automat: Birth of a Fast Food Nation, Christopher Klein writes:

While Horn & Hardart Automats delivered food quickly, meals were made from scratch using fresh, high-quality ingredients. Items were prepared shortly before they were eaten, and food was not allowed to linger overnight. Freshly squeezed orange juice that sat for two hours was poured down the drain.

Back along the Ohio River, Mayer China was producing Marion for the new automats in New York. Marion is an Art Deco teal transferware pattern. The simple design is charming, but not cloying. It is warm and comfortable not commercial.

The resplendent surroundings of the Horn & Hardart Automats—with marble counters and floors, stained glass, chrome fixtures, ornately carved ceilings and Art Deco signage—more resembled Parisian bistros than sterile, dingy fast food outlets. Food was served on real china and eaten with solid flatware. Automat: Birth of a Fast Food Nation

The Horn & Hardart Automat was infamous. The Automat was embraced by working men and women with little time to spare. The automat is the perfect symbol of the machine age. Horn & Hardart opened the doors to the modern world. Sixty years later, Horn & Hardart closed its doors and ironically, so did many of the potteries.

Through the years, Horn & Hardart made its way into movies. I was surprised to find the following clip from The Catered Affair. Look carefully, they are using Marion.

We just found quite a few stacks of Mayer China. I am amazed that they are still bright and shiny. Almost bullet-proof. When these dishes were produced, the cost of a cup of coffee was 5 cents! It is funny to read the menu. Funnier still to begin to understand how old I am – living in a post-modern world in the age of the computer.


Brief History of Fast Food

First place that had ready-cooked food for sale was Ancient Rome. Urban population that lived in multi-story apartment blocks called insulae didn’t have kitchens in them and had to buy their food from food vendors. They bought bread soaked with wine and ate stews and cooked vegetables in so-called popinae which were simple restaurants.

A Han Dynasty text dating from the 2nd century tells about noodle stands that stayed open all night. Bigger towns of Middle Ages had street vendors that sold pies, pasties, flans, waffles, wafers, pancakes and cooked meats. All these people and places sold their food to those that couldn’t cook their own food like poor and travelers. Those places that were near the coast and were involved in fishing developed fast food that included local shellfish or seafood.

British favorite “fish and chips” appeared in 19th century with development of trawler fishing and the first “fish and chips” shop opened in 1860 at Tommyfield Market in Oldham. Max Sielaff in Berlin invented “automats”, vending machine restaurants, in 1896. In 1902, Joseph Horn and James Hardart opened an automat in New York City which marks the beginning of the fast food in United States.

The first hamburger chain in the States was White Castle opened in 1921. It was opened by Billy Ingram and Walter Anderson who started with the first White Castle restaurant in Wichita in 1916. They had a small menu which had cheap hamburgers and they sold it in large numbers. The first franchises appeared also in 1921 (A&W Root Beer franchised their syrup) and the first restaurant franchise appeared in 1930s by Howard Johnson.

When the automobiles became more popular, drive-in restaurants started appearing around United States. Costumers in cars were served by carhops who in 1940s started wearing roller skates. The first McDonald’s with fast food was opened by McDonald brothers in 1948 (They had a restaurant before but it was not of a “fast-food-type”). Soon after them, others started opening their fast food chains: Burger King and Taco Bell opened theirs in the 1950s while Wendy's started in 1969. Carl's Jr., KFC and Jack in the Box existed before in other forms, just like McDonald’s, but as the fast food started becoming popular they reoriented.

Hamburgers are not the only type of fast food sold in the world. Chinese food is also popular as well as fish and chips, sandwiches, pitas, sushi, fried chicken, French fries, onion rings, chicken nuggets, tacos, pizza, hot dogs, and ice cream. To supply all restaurants with food of the same quality and standards, fast food operations make food from processed ingredients at a central supply facility and then ship it to restaurants where it is prepared.

Fast food industry still grows although there are indications that it is losing its share of the market to fast casual dining restaurants. McDonald’s is, for instance, present in 126 countries on 6 continents and has around 31,000 restaurants worldwide.

Some criticize fast food industry and its influence on humanity. They claim that its food is not healthy if consumed often, that they are cruel to the animals, that they exploit their workers, that they degrade local cultures because they shift taste of people from traditional cuisines, and that fast food habits are related to the increase of overweight and obesity among people.


Automation, part I: the disappearing server

How is it that the same culture that loves diners, with their friendly interchange between customers at a counter and cooks and servers on the other side, also idolizes the Automat, with food delivered in metal boxes that are filled by workers hidden from sight?

Through the years proponents of restaurant automation have argued that it’s more sanitary and efficient and results in lower prices for customers. Yet from the start — in the 19th century — automating restaurants was motivated primarily by a wish to eliminate servers.

That this was a desirable goal was never debated. Servers were depicted as annoying, manipulative pests who demanded tips and grew angry if they were too small. As long ago as 1885 a New York Times story hailed a newly invented “waiterless” system that permitted diners to select dishes from a card, place it in a receptacle that wafted it to the kitchen, and be served their food via an overhead railway system. The customer, said the story, “is not preyed upon by the thought that the menial is hovering over him, watching his every movement, and ready to ‘size him up’ in proportion to the amount of his order.” Whether this automation scheme ever materialized is something I have not been able to determine, but it presumably would have looked like this.

There were two basic types of automated restaurants: with one the patrons came to the food, as in the classic Horn & Hardart Automat, and with the other the food came to the patrons. In the latter case, it came in a container/cabinet that arrived (1) from wires overhead, (2) on a conveyor belt, or (3) up through the center of the table. The systems were inventors’ dream projects, resulting in many patents, though actually used in very few restaurants and even fewer successful restaurants. Most of the projects to automate service proved unsuccessful after the novelty wore off.

A sampling of the projects:

1895 – Exhibits of automated “push button” restaurants begin to appear at international fairs in Holland and Germany soon they are found all over Germany.

1897 – Rumors start that automatic restaurant apparatus from Germany will be installed in Philadelphia’s business district enabling business men to eat more quickly

1899 – An advertisement appears in the Philadelphia Inquirer by a New York man who is seeking backers for an Automatic Lunch Room invented in France.

1901 – Buffalo’s Pan-American Exposition is said to have an automatic lunch room.

1902 – A natural food company in Niagara Falls allegedly runs a restaurant with 600 tables served by “five hundred little electric cars” operated by a switchboard.

1902 – The Harcombe Restaurant Co. opens an Automat in New York City.

1907 – An automated quick lunch opens on F street in Washington DC where customers get sandwiches, pie, or coffee by depositing a coin and moving a lever.

1908 – An announcement is made that a waiterless restaurant with Assyrian decor will open in NY on Broadway between 43rd and 44th where guests will receive their meals from a dumbwaiter in the center of their table that will be serviced from a kitchen below.

1909 – A notice by a self-described “first-class man” appears in a Seattle paper seeking partners for a “first-class automatic lunch room.”

1912 – The first NYC Horn & Hardart Automat opens, in Times Square.

1913 – An article in Scientific American proposes that a corporation should be formed to run a central kitchen that can send food to homes throughout cities via pneumatic tubes.

1915 – At least seven saloons in Chicago’s Loop have “free lunch machines” in operation.

1917 – The Automat Company of New England runs three automats in Boston.

1917 – An article in The Hotel Monthly hails a newly invented “Cafetourner” in which food is delivered in “thoroughly clean,” sterilized steel boxes on conveyor belts.

Ca. 1917 – Bell Lunch operates three lunchrooms in New York City, at least one of which appears to be an automat.

1921 – The Automatic Lunch Corporation opens Automatic Lunch Room No. 1 in Detroit, with plans for more in other Michigan cities.

1922 – Horn & Hardart are operating two Automats and five Automat-Cafeterias in Chicago.

1925 – An exhibition in Seattle hosts a booth by the Quick Lunch Company with machines that deliver pie or sandwiches at the drop of a coin.

1925 – Rather than utilizing coins in a slot, The Auteria in St. Paul MN replaces them with a card that is stamped with the price after the customer removes the dish from the device.

1926 – After a couple years in business the National Autometer Restaurant Corp. that ran two automatic restaurants in Washington DC declares bankruptcy.

1928 – A New York hotel exposition features a waiterless dining room with tables equipped with dumbwaiters set into tables.

1929 – Hall’s Mechanafe No. 1, which delivers food in cabinets on a conveyor belt, opens on Main Street in Boise ID. Along with the Horn & Hardart Automats in Philadelphia and New York it survives far longer than most restaurants with automatic service.

1930 – The first Merry-Go-Round café, in which a conveyor belt circulates along a counter, opens in Los Angeles.

1931 – The Hotel Warren in Worcester MA installs “auto-magic” tables where food comes up on a dumbwaiter set into the table. [pictured at top]

1933 – NYC’s Ye Eat Shoppe installs a conveyor belt that serves orders to patrons seated at the counter.

Beginning in the 1930s, but mainly after World War II in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, the second stage of automating the restaurant began, focused on streamlining food preparation in the restaurant kitchen. By the end of this stage computers had changed the meaning of “automatic.”

As for the fabled Horn & Hardart Automats, when the nation’s original one closed in 1969, in Philadelphia, the new president of Horn & Hardart said the concept had reached its peak before and after WWII. With only ten left in business, he acknowledged, “They are not really automatic.” As a story in the Los Angeles Times said, the Automat had become “a museum piece, inefficient and slow, in a computerized world.”

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Birth of a Fast Food Nation: How America’s Obsession with Take-Out Became a Global Phenomenon

Fast food. The quintessential slice of Americana. It’s as synonymous with the American Experience as baseball, apple pie, for-profit health care, and stacked Federal courts. The very thought of a juicy Big Mac, ginormous bucket of KFC, or 10 sack of original White Castle sliders evokes a certain nostalgic charm in all of us, leaving little doubt that Americans, despite the expanding waste lines and shrinking gray matter, love their fast food.

But have you ever wondered why the obsession with fast food is so deeply woven into our cultural fabric? So much, in fact, that according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 3 American adults eat fast food every day. Holy Happy Meal, Batman! That’s about 85 million Americans chowing down. But before we explore the intersection between fast food and American history, let’s first take a look at the evolution of what is arguably humanity’s greatest convenience.

What Unearth?

Believe it or not, the first fast food joints were not a product of American ingenuity but that of the Ancient Romans. They created rudimentary take out restaurants – thermopolia – which served baked cheese, grains, hot wine, and fish sauce out of a small room with a stone countertop and embedded earthenware jars (known as dolia ). Thermopolia peppered Ancient Rome and attracted those looking for a quick bite or a place to drink and rabble rouse. In his book, “Food and Drink in Antiquity: A Sourcebook: Readings from the Graeco-Roman World,” author and historian John Donahue wrote that these little greasy spoons were the “ancient equivalent of modern fast food.” As if the Romans weren’t cool enough.


Of course, the earliest to-go establishments were created for people who couldn’t afford their own kitchens or for weary travelers just passing through. About a century or so later, fish and chips were sold on the streets of London in the early 1860s, although the exact origins of the dish are, well, fishy. Some say it originated in Portugal and migrated to Great Britain in the fifteenth century.

The Rise (and Fall) of the Automat

And that brings us to America where the origins of modern fast food can be traced to a self-service restaurant known as the Automat . The Automat was a cafeteria that served food out of coin operated vending machines.

Created by Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart, the first Automat called Horn & Hardart opened on July 7, 1912 in of all places New York City. Demand for quick service “take-out” food swept the nation along with their catchy advertising campaign, “ Less work for Mother ” (and by “catchy” I mean sexist and offensive).

While the Automat itself was considered revolutionary, it was soon eclipsed by what most historians consider the first fast food outlet – White Castle . In 1916, this little company headquartered in Wichita, Kansas started selling five cent hamburgers and pioneered the concept of the multi-state hamburger restaurant chain. The White Castle system was the first to provide meat, buns, paper goods, and condiments to their restaurants thus standardizing the look and construction of the buildings themselves.

The Dawn of the Golden Arches

The expansion of the American highway system, as well as the desire for low cost instant gratification paved the way for the proliferation of take out. With the automobile’s rising popularity, drive-in restaurants started popping up all over the country, serving food by roller-skating carhops .

Then in 1948, two brothers named McDonald started serving barbecue to wealthy teens off of Route 66 in San Bernardino, California and created a restaurant chain that would become synonymous with fast food.

Speedee Service

As drive-in competition grew in the years after World War 11, the brothers realized that 80 percent of their sales came from hamburgers, not brisket. The McDonalds closed their doors for a few months and transformed it into a true self-service restaurant where patrons placed orders at the windows. They ditched the silverware for disposable wrappings and cups, fired the carhops, and simplified the menu to nine items – hamburgers, cheeseburgers, three flavors of soda, coffee, milk, potato chips, and of course, pie.

Production was based on the Speedee Service System – a concept taken from Henry Ford’s automobile assembly-line which is based on speed, lower prices, and volume. The burgers sold for a whopping 15-cents and each crew member specialized in specific task. Much of the food was preassembled allowing McDonald’s to prepare food quickly. Side note: Thankfully, brothers wised up and switched out the chips for fries. Because, hello…McDonald’s fries?

With food and labor costs increasing, the brothers decided to franchise their enterprise. The first franchise was sold to Ray Kroc in 1954. Kroc happened upon McDonald’s while selling the Multimixer – a device that could mix five shakes at a time. Kroc asked the brothers to allow him to franchise outside of California and eventually opened the first outlet in Des Plaines, Illinois – a suburb of Chicago. Kroc eventually bought the restaurant chain and the rest is, well, McHistory.

The success of McDonald’s mechanized food service spurred the evolution of a plethora of other fast food chains including Burger King, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dominos, and Taco Bell. Today, annual fast food revenue is roughly a $110 billion and with the exception of Vatican City, North Korea, Montenegro, fast food establishments can be found in nearly every country around the world.

Of course, you can’t discuss the history of fast food in America without acknowledging it’s dark past – specifically its contribution to obesity, diabetes, climate change, and systemic racism. But that’s another post.


Contents

In 1896, the first self-service restaurant (the "Stollwerck-Automatenrestaurant") opened in Berlin's Leipziger Straße.

United States

Some trace the modern history of fast food in the United States to 7 July 1912, with the opening of a fast food restaurant called the Automat in New York. The Automat was a cafeteria with its prepared foods behind small glass windows and coin-operated slots. Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart had already opened the first Horn & Hardart Automat in Philadelphia in 1902, but their "Automat" at Broadway and 13th Street, in New York City, created a sensation. Numerous Automat restaurants were built around the country to deal with the demand. Automats remained extremely popular throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The company also popularized the notion of "take-out" food, with their slogan "Less work for Mother".

Most historians agree that the American company White Castle was the first fast food outlet, starting in Wichita, Kansas in 1916 with food stands and founding in 1921, selling hamburgers for five cents apiece from its inception and spawning numerous competitors and emulators. What is certain, however, is that White Castle made the first significant effort to standardize the food production in, look of, and operation of fast food hamburger restaurants. William Ingram's and Walter Anderson's White Castle System created the first fast food supply chain to provide meat, buns, paper goods, and other supplies to their restaurants, pioneered the concept of the multi-state hamburger restaurant chain, standardized the look and construction of the restaurants themselves, and even developed a construction division that manufactured and built the chain's prefabricated restaurant buildings. The McDonald's Speedee Service System and, much later, Ray Kroc's McDonald's outlets and Hamburger University all built on principles, systems and practices that White Castle had already established between 1923 and 1932.

The hamburger restaurant most associated by the public with the term "fast food" was created by two brothers originally from Nashua, New Hampshire. Richard and Maurice McDonald opened a barbecue drive-in in 1940 in the city of San Bernardino, California. After discovering that most of their profits came from hamburgers, the brothers closed their restaurant for three months and reopened it in 1948 as a walk-up stand offering a simple menu of hamburgers, french fries, shakes, coffee, and Coca-Cola, served in disposable paper wrapping. As a result, they could produce hamburgers and fries constantly, without waiting for customer orders, and could serve them immediately hamburgers cost 15 cents, about half the price at a typical diner. Their streamlined production method, which they named the "Speedee Service System" was influenced by the production line innovations of Henry Ford.

By 1954, The McDonald brothers' stand was restaurant equipment manufacturer Prince Castle's biggest purchaser of milkshake blending machines. Prince Castle salesman Ray Kroc traveled to California to discover why the company had purchased almost a dozen of the units as opposed to the normal one or two found in most restaurants of the time. Enticed by the success of the McDonald's concept, Kroc signed a franchise agreement with the brothers and began opening McDonald's restaurants in Illinois. [7] By 1961, Kroc had bought out the brothers and created what is now the modern McDonald's Corporation. One of the major parts of his business plan was to promote cleanliness of his restaurants to growing groups of Americans that had become aware of food safety issues. As part of his commitment to cleanliness, Kroc often took part in cleaning his own Des Plaines, Illinois outlet by hosing down the garbage cans and scraping gum off the cement. Another concept Kroc added was great swaths of glass which enabled the customer to view the food preparation, a practice still found in chains such as Krispy Kreme. A clean atmosphere was only part of Kroc's grander plan which separated McDonald's from the rest of the competition and attributes to their great success. Kroc envisioned making his restaurants appeal to suburban families. [8]

At roughly the same time as Kroc was conceiving what eventually became McDonald's Corporation, two Miami, Florida businessmen, James McLamore and David Edgerton, opened a franchise of the predecessor to what is now the international fast food restaurant chain Burger King. McLamore had visited the original McDonald's hamburger stand belonging to the McDonald brothers sensing potential in their innovative assembly line-based production system, he decided he wanted to open a similar operation of his own. [9] [10] The two partners eventually decided to invest their money in Jacksonville, Florida-based Insta-Burger King. Originally opened in 1953, the founders and owners of the chain, Kieth G. Kramer and his wife's uncle Matthew Burns, opened their first stores around a piece of equipment known as the Insta-Broiler. The Insta-Broiler oven proved so successful at cooking burgers, they required all of their franchises to carry the device. [9] By 1959 McLamore and Edgarton were operating several locations within the Miami-Dade area and were growing at a fast clip. Despite the success of their operation, the partners discovered that the design of the insta-broiler made the unit's heating elements prone to degradation from the drippings of the beef patties. The pair eventually created a mechanized gas grill that avoided the problems by changing the way the meat patties were cooked in the unit. After the original company began to falter in 1959, it was purchased by McLamore and Edgerton who renamed the company Burger King. [11]

While fast food restaurants usually have a seating area in which customers can eat the food on the premises, orders are designed to be taken away, and traditional table service is rare. Orders are generally taken and paid for at a wide counter, with the customer waiting by the counter for a tray or container for their food. A "drive-through" service can allow customers to order and pick up food from their cars.

Nearly from its inception, fast food has been designed to be eaten "on the go" and often does not require traditional cutlery and is eaten as a finger food. Common menu items at fast food outlets include fish and chips, sandwiches, pitas, hamburgers, fried chicken, french fries, chicken nuggets, tacos, pizza, and ice cream, although many fast food restaurants offer "slower" foods like chili, mashed potatoes, and salads.

Modern commercial fast food is highly processed and prepared on a large scale from bulk ingredients using standardized cooking and production methods and equipment. It is usually rapidly served in cartons, bags, or in a plastic wrapping, in a fashion which reduces operating costs by allowing rapid product identification and counting, promoting longer holding time, avoiding transfer of bacteria, and facilitating order fulfillment. In most fast food operations, menu items are generally made from processed ingredients prepared at central supply facilities and then shipped to individual outlets where they are cooked (usually by grill, microwave, or deep-frying) or assembled in a short amount of time either in anticipation of upcoming orders (i.e., "to stock") or in response to actual orders (i.e., "to order"). Following standard operating procedures, pre-cooked products are monitored for freshness and disposed of if holding times become excessive. This process ensures a consistent level of product quality, and is key to delivering the order quickly to the customer and avoiding labor and equipment costs in the individual stores.

Because of commercial emphasis on taste, speed, product safety, uniformity, and low cost, fast food products are made with ingredients formulated to achieve an identifiable flavor, aroma, texture, and "mouth feel" and to preserve freshness and control handling costs during preparation and order fulfillment. This requires a high degree of food engineering. The use of additives, including salt, sugar, flavorings and preservatives, and processing techniques may limit the nutritional value of the final product.

Value meals

A value meal is a group of menu items offered together at a lower price than they would cost individually. A hamburger, side of fries, and drink commonly constitute a value meal—or combo depending on the chain. Value meals at fast food restaurants are common as a merchandising tactic to facilitate bundling, up-selling, and price discrimination. Most of the time they can be upgraded to a larger side and drink for a small fee. The perceived creation of a "discount" on individual menu items in exchange for the purchase of a "meal" is also consistent with the loyalty marketing school of thought. [12]

To make quick service possible and to ensure accuracy and security, many fast food restaurants have incorporated hospitality point of sale systems. This makes it possible for kitchen crew people to view orders placed at the front counter or drive through in real time. Wireless systems allow orders placed at drive through speakers to be taken by cashiers and cooks. Drive through and walk through configurations will allow orders to be taken at one register and paid at another. Modern point of sale systems can operate on computer networks using a variety of software programs. Sales records can be generated and remote access to computer reports can be given to corporate offices, managers, troubleshooters, and other authorized personnel.

Food service chains partner with food equipment manufacturers to design highly specialized restaurant equipment, often incorporating heat sensors, timers, and other electronic controls into the design. Collaborative design techniques, such as rapid visualization and computer-aided design of restaurant kitchens are now being used to establish equipment specifications that are consistent with restaurant operating and merchandising requirements. [13]


Longaberger Baskets are legendary in Ohio - and beyond their picnic baskets are carefully crafted with traditional materials to provide strength and durability. Collectors know that each basket is signed and dated by the maker.

Fellowship Basket
- Take this basket to your next gathering - fill with your easy Lemon Squares
- Or, take a bottle of Chianti for a picnic for two
- Cotton Green Plaid Liner - simple to wash and hang to dry
- Yes, a plastic Insert to protect the basket
- A very attractive basket . . . suitable for men or women in any season

This basket is woven to last -
- Hand woven Split Oak
- Two swing handles provide strength and durability
- Well designed rivets for the handles
Produced in Dresden, Ohio in 1997.


The Fast Food Industry Boom

By the 1950s, the fast food industry boom was in full swing, incorporating and perfecting marketing strategies borrowed from earlier days. Fast food franchises had become popular dining stops from coast to coast, thanks to their standardized menus, easily recognized signage, and unified advertising strategies that made household names of such industry leaders as White Castle, McDonald&rsquos, A&W Root Beer, and Howard Johnson&rsquos.

The history of fast food in America was secured in 1951 when that year&rsquos edition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary included the term for the first time. It was also in the 1950s when the history of McDonald&rsquos became such a staple of the American diet that mere mention of golden arches became synonymous with hamburgers.

By the 1960s, the history of fast food added another important chapter when children&rsquos menus became a standardized part of some of the most popular restaurant chains and advertisers began to focus marketing efforts at children. With the family-oriented culture in America at that time, focused heavily on children first, fast food restaurant excursions were fun and affordable family affairs offering culinary delights for all ages.


Quotes from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“The history of the twentieth century was dominated by the struggle against totalitarian systems of state power. The twenty-first will no doubt be marked by a struggle to curtail excessive corporate power.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“The medical literature on the causes of food poisoning is full of euphemisms and dry scientific terms: coliform levels, aerobic plate counts, sorbitol, MacConkey agar, and so on. Behind them lies a simple explanation for why eating a hamburger can now make you seriously ill: There is shit in the meat.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“Did somebody say McUnion? [. ] Not if they want to keep their McJob.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“The spread of BSE [mad cow disease] in Europe has revealed how secret alliances between agribusiness and government can endanger the public health. It has shown how the desire for profit can overrule every other consideration. British agricultural officials were concerned as early as 1987 that eating meat from BSE-infected cattle might pose a risk to human beings. That information was suppressed for years, and the possibility of any health risk was strenuously denied, in order to protect exports of British beef. Scientists who disagreed with the official line were publicly attacked and kept off government committees investigating BSE. Official denials of the truth delayed important health measures.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“Today the U.S. government can demand the nation-wide recall of defective softball bats, sneakers, stuffed animals, and foam-rubber toy cows. But it cannot order a meatpacking company to remove contaminated, potentially lethal ground beef from fast food kitchens and supermarket shelves.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“The market is a tool, and a useful one. But the worship of this tool is a hollow faith. Far more important than any tool is what you make with it.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“Congress should ban advertising that preys upon children, it should stop subsidizing dead-end jobs, it should pass tougher food safety laws, it should protect American workers from serious harm, it should fight against dangerous concentrations of economic power.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“Twenty years ago, teenage boys in the United States drank twice as much milk as soda now they drink twice as much soda as milk.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“When a worker is injured at an IBP plant in Texas, he or she is immediately presented with a waiver. Signing the waiver means forever surrendering the right to sue IBP on any grounds. Workers who sign the waiver may receive medical care under IBP's Workplace Injury Settlement Program. Or they may not. Once workers sign, IBP and its company-approved doctors have control over the job-related medical treatment - for life. Under the program's terms, seeking treatment from an independent physician can be grounds for losing all medical benefits. Workers who refuse to sign the IBP waiver not only risk getting no medical care from the company, but also risk being fired on the spot. Injured workers almost always sign the waiver. The pressure to do so is immense. An IBP medical case manager will literally bring the waiver to a hospital emergency room in order to obtain an injured worker's signature. When Lonita Leal's right hand was mangled by a hamburger grinder at the IBP plant in Amarillo, a case manager talked her into signing the waiver with her left hand as she waited in the hospital for surgery. When Duane Mullin had both hands crushed in a hammer mill at the same plant, an IBP representative persuaded him to sign the waiver with a pen held in his mouth.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“The life's work of Walt Disney and Ray Kroc had come full-circle, uniting in perfect synergy. McDonald's began to sell its hamburgers and french fries at Disney's theme parks. The ethos of McDonaldland and of Disneyland, never far apart, have finally become one. Now you can buy a Happy Meal at the Happiest Place on Earth.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“Lowe has broken from the Christianity of his parents, a faith that now seems hopelessly out of date. The meek shall no longer inherit the earth the go-getters will get it and everything that goes with it. The Christ who went among the poor, the sick, the downtrodden, among lepers and prostitutes, really had no marketing savvy. He has been transfigured into a latter-day entrepreneur, the greatest superstar sales person of all time, who built a multinational outfit from scratch.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“A generation ago, three-quarters of the money used to buy food in the United States was spent to prepare meals at home. Today about half of the money used to buy food is spent at restaurants--mainly at fast food restaurants.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“Behind them lies a simple explanation for why eating a hamburger can now make you seriously ill: There is shit in the meat.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“Again and again workers told me that they are under tremendous pressure not to report injuries. The annual bonuses of plant foremen and supervisors are often based in part on the injury rate of their workers. Instead of crating a safer workplace, these bonus schemes encourage slaughterhouse managers to make sure that accidents and injuries go unreported. Missing fingers, broken bones, deep lacerations and amputated limbs are difficult to conceal from authorities. But the dramatic and catastrophic injuries in a slaughterhouse are greatly outnumbered by less visible, though no less debilitating, ailments: torn muscles, slipped disks, pinched nerves.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“Widespread introduction of the process [of irradiating foods] has thus far been impeded, however, by a reluctance among consumers to eat things that have been exposed to radiation. According to current USDA regulations, irradiated meat must be identified with a special label and with a radura (the internationally recognized symbol of radiation). The Beef Industry Food Safety Council - whose members include the meatpacking and fast food giants - has asked the USDA to change its rules and make the labeling of irradiated meat completely voluntary. The meatpacking industry is also working hard to get rid of the word 'irradiation, much preferring the phrase 'cold pasteurization.'. From a purely scientific point of view, irradiation may be safe and effective. But he [a slaughterhouse engineer] is concerned about the introduction of highly complex electromagnetic and nuclear technology into slaughterhouses with a largely illiterate, non-English-speaking workforce.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“The war on foodborne pathogens deserves the sort of national attention and resources that has been devoted to the war on drugs. Far more Americans are severely harmed every year by food poisoning than by illegal drug use. And the harms caused by food poisoning are usually inadvertent and unanticipated. People who smoke crack know the potential dangers most people who eat hamburgers don’t. Eating in the United States should no longer be a form of high-risk behavior.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“A nationwide study published by the USDA in 1996 found that [. ] 78.6 percent of the ground beef contained microbes that are spread primarily by fecal matter. The medical literature on the causes of food poisoning is full of euphemisms and dry scientific terms: coliform levels, aerobic plate counts, sorbitol, MacConkey agar, and so on. Behind them lies a simple explanation for why eating hamburger meat makes you sick: There is shit in the meat.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“About 75 percent of the cattle in the United States were routinely fed livestock wastes—the rendered remains of dead sheep and dead cattle—until August of 1997. They were also fed millions of dead cats and dead dogs every year, purchased from animal shelters.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a quarter of the American population suffers a bout of food poisoning each year.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“The usefulness of the market, its effectiveness as a tool, cuts both ways. The real power of the American consumer has not yet been unleashed. The heads of Burger King, KFC, and McDonald’s should feel daunted they’re outnumbered. There are three of them and almost three hundred million of you.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food in 2000, they spent more than $110 billion. Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music—combined.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“Beslenme biçimi, bir ulus hakkında sanatı veya edebiyatından daha çok bilgi verebilir. ABD'de herhangi bir günde yetişkin nüfusun yaklaşık dörtte biri bir fast food restoranına gidiyor. Fast food sektörü oldukça kısa bir süre içinde, beslenme biçimimizin ötesinde coğrafyamızı, ekonomimizi, işgücümüzü ve popüler kültürümüzü de dönüştürdü. İster günde iki kere yiyin, ister uzak durun, hatta hiç ağzınıza sürmemiş olun artık fast food'dan ve sonuçlarından kaçamazsınız.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“Future historians, I hope, will consider the American fast food industry a relic of the twentieth century — a set of attitudes, systems, and
beliefs that emerged from postwar southern California, that embodied its limitless faith in technology, that quickly spread across the globe,
flourished briefly, and then receded, once its true costs became clear and its thinking became obsolete. We cannot ignore the meaning of mad
cow. It is one more warning about unintended consequences, about human arrogance and the blind worship of science.The same mindset
that would add 4-methylacetophenone and solvent to your milkshake would also feed pigs to cows. Whatever replaces the fast food industry
should be regional, diverse, authentic, unpredictable, sustainable, profitable — and humble. It should know its limits. People can be fed
without being fattened or deceived.This new century may bring an impatience with conformity, a refusal to be kept in the dark, less greed,
more compassion, less speed, more common sense, a sense of humor about brand essences and loyalties, a view of food as more than just
fuel.Things don’t have to be the way they are. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I remain optimistic.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“Pull open the glass door, feel the rush of cool air, walk inside, get in line, and look around you, look at the kids working in the kitchen, at the customers in their seats, at the ads for the latest toys, study the backlit color photographs above the counter, think about where the food came from, about how and where it was made, about what is set in motion by every single fast food purchase, the ripple effect near and far, think about it. Then place your order. Or turn and walk out the door. It’s not too late. Even in this fast food nation, you can still have it your way.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“The birth of the fast food industry coincided with Eisenhower-era glorifications of technology, with optimistic slogans like “Better Living through Chemistry” and “Our Friend the Atom.” The sort of technological wizardry that Walt Disney promoted on television and at Disneyland eventually reached its fulfillment in the kitchens of fast food restaurants. Indeed, the corporate culture of McDonald’s seems inextricably linked to that of the Disney empire, sharing a reverence for sleek machinery, electronics, and automation. The leading fast food chains still embrace a boundless faith in science—and as a result have changed not just what Americans eat, but also how their food is made.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“Like Cheyenne Mountain, today's fast good conceals remarkable technological advances behind an ordinary-looking façade.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“Sides of beef suspended from an overhead trolley swing toward a group of men. Each worker has a large knife in one hand and a steel hook in the other. They grab the meat with their hooks and attack it fiercely with their knives. As they hack away, using all their strength, grunting, the place suddenly feels different, primordial. The machinery seems beside the point, and what’s going on before me has been going on for thousands of years—the meat, the hook, the knife, men straining to cut more meat. On the kill floor, what I see no longer unfolds in a logical manner. It’s one strange image after another. A worker with a power saw slices cattle into halves as though they were two-by-fours, and then the halves swing by me into the cooler. It feels like a slaughterhouse now. Dozens of cattle, stripped of their skins, dangle on chains from their hind legs. My host stops and asks how I feel, if I want to go any further. This is where some people get sick.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“see: a man reach inside cattle and pull out their kidneys with his bare hands, then drop the kidneys down a metal chute, over and over again, as each animal passes by him a stainless steel rack of tongues Whizzards peeling meat off decapitated heads, picking them almost as clean as the white skulls painted by Georgia O’Keeffe. We wade through blood that’s ankle deep and that pours down drains into huge vats below us. As we approach the start of the line, for the first time I hear the steady pop, pop, pop of live animals being stunned.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

“The Golden Arches are now more widely recognized than the Christian cross.”
― Eric Schlosser, quote from Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal


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