🔥 Bonji Hot Takes: Volume 42 🔥
Fast Food Has Some Humble Beginnings
Hi all, welcome back to the Bonji Hot Takes! We hope your week has been filled with success and happiness. The weekend is near, but we hope to offer some value before the week closes and you are enjoying the time off. Fast food restaurants have been around since the 1920s and 30s, slowly growing decade by decade. According to Smithsonian Magazine, in 1921 the first fast food restaurant, White Castle, opened its doors in Wichita, Kansas. With that in mind, fast food restaurants had been linked to more suburban territories, but later pushed into urban areas. Once the major highway systems were built in the 1950s, fast food took America by storm. Although many fast food chains popped up post highways, some massive brands got their start in the 40s, such as McDonalds, In-N-Out, and Dunkin'. Generally, most of these restaurants were started by “American Dreamers," diving into the bustling business world for the first time. Why are we telling you all of this? Because fast food chains have completely dominated the growth sector of restaurants for about 100 years. Of course, they didn't all grow as rapidly as you see today, but overall, fast food has really never seen a true slowdown. You may think that the past few decades brought health trends that pushed people out of these unhealthy establishments, but that is simply not the case. With the chains still expanding, we regrettably welcome you to The Golden Age of Fast Food.
Welcome To The Golden Age of Fast Food Undeniably, fast-food restaurants have had their fair share of issues over the years. Whether it's past scandals and media troubles, or today's labor shortages, supply chain malfunctions, and inflation. However, these all appear to be simple speed bumps on the high-speed road to billions. In fact, the top 30 fast food chains have all eclipsed the $1 billion mark in sales. That's right, 30 fast-food restaurant chains are pulling in over or well over a billion dollars A YEAR. So no, the health trends and labor issues that are covered in the news truly aren't harming the megaliths in the food industry. Nonetheless, it's hard to say what these chains have accomplished isn't impressive. Many of them only plan to continue growing at a rapid pace with ambitious goals for the next few years. They may try to lean into plant-based, as Burger King/competitors continuously add new menu items. They may try to offer new deals to serve the on-the-go customers. They may simply add more stores, as always. Regardless of their strategies, fast food is rising to new heights each year; thus, it only feels right to call this fast food's golden age. It seems a little odd that after a pandemic that shut restaurants down across the globe, fast food seems to have picked up. With only 2 chains closing a handful of stores (McDonald's and Subway, which, by the way, have the most locations globally BY FAR), every other chain expanded by the hundreds, if not thousands. As a whole, the fast food industry pulls in around $200 billion in the US and over $500 billion globally. Looking back, maybe this is a second golden age for fast food, as the 1980s saw rapid growth as well. McDonald’s, in fact, added 5,415 new restaurants throughout the decade, or one new restaurant every 16 hours! We aren't here to tell you to boycott fast food, especially because it would be extremely difficult to even touch most of these brands. Yet, we want you to be aware that these massive chains are only getting bigger, with no signs of slowing down - no matter the scenario. There are a few health-conscious “fast casual” restaurant chains that have hit the scene, but it seems to just not be as appealing as a $5 indulgent meal. At the end of the day, nobody is going to blame you for stopping in at McDonald's after a stressful day, but still, look to support your local restaurants, they are the ones that need it the most.