Fast food has been a favorite as far as it gets. Our ancestors may have invented it when the Neanderthals were on the menu of prehistoric animals. A quick bite to eat comes to mind.
Fast forward to ancient Italy
In 2020, Italian historians at Pompeii Archaeological Park said that around 80 fast food restaurants were found in Pompeii. Last year, for the first time, a hot drinks and food restaurant – known as thermopolium – was completely uncovered.
Pompeii was founded in the 6th century BC and a bustling city until covered in volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD
Since we’re on the subject of fast food, we’ll quickly get to the heart of the matter. Modern fast food took off in part because of the freeways built in the United States in the 1950s and was a response to the active American lifestyle.
Many historians consider America’s first fast food chain to be White Castle, which opened in Wichita, Kansas in 1921. White Castle brought Henry Ford’s assembly line into the kitchen. Every inch of the grill has been used to give customers a fast and accurate experience every time.
Fast food fans know that many of these chains started out here in California. We’ve come a long way in 100 years, but the idea of maximizing efficiency with fast food is still the same.
McDonald’s menu timeline
In 1940, Dick and Mac McDonald opened McDonald’s Barbecue in San Bernardino, the first McDonald’s restaurant. The restaurant, a drive-in with carhop service, would lead to the world’s largest chain.
Here are some of the oldest McDonald’s menu items, listed by year of national launch. Not all listed.
Who eats fast food
A 2018 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at who eats fast food and how often. The study asked adults to find out if they had eaten at a fast food restaurant or pizza place in the previous 24 hours. The graphs show the percentage of adults who ate fast food “on a given day”.
Sources: CDC, Smithsonian, Historyoffastfood.com, timetoast.com, restaurant sites