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The Fast Food Restaurants History in the United States

Introduction

Fast foods are often associated with recent times but when one reads Nicholas Howe’s “Fast Food America” it is easy to see that fast food joins have existed since the early 1990s. Dining places were often strategically placed along the interstate highways so that travelers might often drop in. Howe cites the fact that nostalgic travelers often recollect old diners as “shrines on the high-way” (Howe, 125). They were places that were eccentric in style and offered the best food on the roads.

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Thesis: It is easy to see that fast food restaurants have a long history in the United States if one is observant enough to note the pictures and photographs on the walls and listen to the conversations going on among people there.

Main body

Sheridan, Wyoming, off I-90 is a Burger King restaurant belonging to the early 1990s and positioned in a remote part of the state. This restaurant is popular among the locals as a collecting place for breakfast. The place is typically furnished like any other Burger King restaurant with “plastic, easy to clean, comfortable enough for a brief stop” (p. 128) and has the typical Burger King menu. But the place is adorned with special souvenirs in the form of a group of pictures that connect it to its early days. One such picture is the “The Runaway” by Norman Rockwell which shows a kind cop and a little boy sharing a moment of camaraderie, sitting next to each other in a diner. The boy’s bindle staff, his hobo gear is kept under the boy’s stool. The picture thus brings alive the story of a boy who lived in a time when mischievous boys often ran away and good cops understood them with reflection of their own boyhoods. The cop in the pictures is bringing the boy back home and the counterman is a friend to both. Another photograph that is a blast from the past is a black-and-white photograph of a diner countertop by Paul Hoffman. Finally, it is interesting to note that the same Burger King is depicted in a poster from the O.K. Harris Gallery in New York’s Soho. This poster shows a painting by Ralph Goings of a diner in a landscape, similar to that around the Sheridan Burger King.

The fast food belt can be seen as a never-changing belt positioned mostly at interstate highways where most of the travelling takes place. Though most of these fast food places are ugly, a few have lasted over the decade and all of them cater to the rules of speed and creation of space. Travelers generally have a desire for speed that is relative to the distance that they must travel and this desire for speed is the ruling prerogative for these fast food dining places on the highways. In a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Sullivan, Missouri, off I-44, Nicholas Howe found a graffito on the back of a stall door: “Because it’s fried shit, that’s why” (p. 129). He interprets this graffito as a warning against too much driving and too much fast food. Transient America was all about speed and fast food belts were a symbol of this desire for speed.

Franchise restaurants often bring back memories of people who belonged to the past and this is because of their unchanging nature across time. Nicholas Howe says it succinctly: “The rituals of life continue in the landscape” (p. 129). He says that the unchanging nature of these franchise restaurants can also be seen in the conversations that go on in these places. If one listens to these conversations, Howe says there is likely to be news exchange between “a soldier’s wife home for a visit and her former high-school teacher”, stories passed among retired ranchers who are just idling away their time during working hours and a flow of greetings and news that revives community life. All of this can be observed if one takes the time to sit with a coffee at a franchise restaurant on the highway and is familiar with the local news. It would become clear that in this particular franchise restaurant building, that is built like thousand others in the country, the wandering are given a temporary slice of home, the international news are treated as local news, the history of the place is retold by the pictures of old diners and travel writers find abundant material that is typically American.

Conclusion

The general theme of fast food is based on speed which has been the mantra of travelers since olden days. The pictures on the walls of old franchise restaurants, the facts that they are depicted in old paintings in the museum and the American culture of the past is retained in the conversations of the travelers and local people who gather there are proofs enough that fast food restaurants have a long history in America.

Work Cited

Howe, Nicholas (2003). Across an Inland Sea: Writing in Place from Buffalo to Berlin. Princeton University Press.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, September 22). The Fast Food Restaurants History in the United States. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-fast-food-restaurants-history-in-the-united-states/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, September 22). The Fast Food Restaurants History in the United States. https://studycorgi.com/the-fast-food-restaurants-history-in-the-united-states/

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StudyCorgi. "The Fast Food Restaurants History in the United States." September 22, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-fast-food-restaurants-history-in-the-united-states/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "The Fast Food Restaurants History in the United States." September 22, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-fast-food-restaurants-history-in-the-united-states/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'The Fast Food Restaurants History in the United States'. 22 September.

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