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The History of Fast Food Restaurants

A concept that was so American in the early twenties and thirties of the twentieth century has now spread all across the globe. The term fast food was previously referred to as QSR (quick service restaurant). It was only in the year 1951 that the term fast food came into existence when it was first included into the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

The Roman Contribution: Although the word fast food was coined only in ’51, it is pretty evident that the concept was prevalent prior to that and there have been links to the ancient Roman history where fast food or quick serving first saw light.

It is believed that the ancient Romans developed this concept of ready meal to serve the spectators who gathered at the colossium during sporting events. The ancient Romans had the Popinas which served foods like wine soaked bread, stews and olives. The French and the English had vendors who sold pancakes, waffles, pies and pasties.

So, concept of quick serving or readily cooked meals existed even before there was a McDonald’s or a KFC or a White Castle. Although, one must agree that it is the establishment of these joints that earned the word fast food its place in a dictionary.

A Look at The Famous Old 3: The three fast food joints that are mentioned above are the oldest and the most famous joints in the US and across the world. While White castle is confined only to the eastern US, KFC and McDonald’s managed to go global and span across six continents in the world.
White Castle KFC McDonald's

Although, White castle is restricted to the eastern US, we need to mention this because this is the oldest hamburger joint in America that exists to date (aged 90). It was founded by Billy Ingram and Walter A. Anderson in the year 1921, with the latter credited with the invention of the burger bun. The concept fast food restaurants was thus, popularized after this.

Then it was the turn of Colonel Harland Sanders who started selling fried chicken in front of a gas station in Kentucky in the year 1930. In fact Sanders was not a military man, but his stupendous success in selling fried chicken earned him the title Kentucky Colonel for his services towards the state cuisine. Although KFC is today owned by the PepsiCo, it is his secret recipe that earned the brand its name and fame and is used to date.

The next big burger joint that came into existence was McDonald’s and it was founded by the McDonald brothers, Richard and Maurice in the year 1940. Though the youngest among the three, McDonald’s is the leading and the world’s largest burger joint that serves nearly 58 million people across the world daily.

After these joints clicked, we saw a spring of fast food restaurants like Burger King, Sub Way and of course Wimpy that was founded even before McDonald’s in Chicago. The growth rate of these restaurants was an unbelievable 4.7 percent in the year 2006, only to have risen ever since.

Today, these fast food restaurants are also a part and parcel of our lives.

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