Fast Food Explained: Information and Frequently Asked Questions

fast food explained

If you live in the United States or have simply come here to visit, you can’t help but notice Americans’ obsession with fast food. In fact, over a quarter of all American adults consume at least one meal from a fast-food restaurant each day.

1. Why Is Fast Food Popular?

There is no one specific reason why fast food is so common in America, but several factors explain its popularity. One reason why it’s so popular, is because of how convenient it is. You don’t even have to get out of your car to order or eat your snack. I know, it’s crazy if you think about it.

Fast food is also cheap. You can often purchase an entire meal, drink included, for less than $10. Upon placing your order, your food is prepared and given to you in under 10 minutes. Sometimes it might take a little longer, but it’s never as long as a wait inside a “typical sit-down restaurant”. For example, Panera Bread is usually a little slower than other fast food chains, and the question remains whether or not they’re technically fast food. In the end it’s all about receiving your meal in a quick (or fairly quick) way.

For my American readers: I wrote a separate article called “Why is fast food so popular in America“.

Fun fact: Fast food is also a popular snack to serve at home. Well, these days it definitely is. Some people really try to create that “home restaurant atmosphere”. If you’re interested, feel free to scroll through my Top 10 fast food decoration ideas or take a look at some of these cute fast food costumes.

2. Why Is Fast Food Cheap?

The biggest reason why fast food is so cheap, is the low cost of production in the industry. Fast food restaurants have cheaper production costs than other food establishments, including diners and small local coffee shops.

Fast food places keep their costs low by hiring young or unskilled workers, who they can pay lower hourly wages. Fast food menus are also very limited if you think about it. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King offer a large selection of burgers, but they all use the same kind of patties. They also place larger bulk orders for these main items, which gives them more buying power.

Standardization and automation are two other ways that fast food establishments keep their costs down. Most locations will employ the use of machine production anywhere they can. Keeping things simple and only using a predetermined amount of a specific items for each order lowers the amount of waste. Plus, it makes training staff relatively easy.

I’d like to add a little note here. This could sound as if fast food restaurants use their staff only to mass produce and serve their meals. That’s not entirely true. Some of them do in fact treat their employees extremely well, like I explained in my facts about Chick-Fil-A for example.

3. Why Is Fast Food Called Fast Food?

The term fast food wasn’t added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary until 1951. However, this type of food has been around since ancient times. We call it fast food because of how fast it’s prepared and served to customers. Most fast food places in America can cook and fill an entire order in less than 10 minutes. We all know that ordering fast food nearby is usually delivered within 30 minutes, which includes the actual transportation.

The majority of your fast food restaurants use ingredients that come precooked or preheated. Most items are “cooked” once an order has been placed. However, some things are made ahead of time and kept under warmers.

Popular meals are often made ahead of time, especially during rush hours. All fast food items are packaged and given to customers over a counter or through a window. Items are wrapped and bagged in a takeaway format for those who wish to take their meals and go.

4. Are Fast Food and Junk Food the Same?

Many people use the terms fast food and junk food interchangeably. The problem is, they are not the same thing. Using the words this way only creates more confusion among people. You have to keep in mind that some fast food isn’t bad for you, and not all junk food can be made fast.

The definition of fast food is where a restaurant makes your food and gets it to you in the quickest way possible. On the other hand, junk food is any kind of food that has no nutritional value or even a low amount of value. Almost all junk food is filled with what is called “empty calories”.

Based on the actual definition of the words, you can easily tell the difference between the two. Junk food is never good for you, as it provides you with very little nutrition. Fast food can be healthy, but it can also be unhealthy. In other words: Fast food can be junk food. For example, French fries are fast food, but they have no nutritional value, so they are junk.

Two of the best fast food options that are healthy include salads and sushi. With the salad option, watch for any processed foods added to the salad or any kind of fatty seasonings. Sandwiches, tacos, and burritos can also be considered healthy as long as you make reasonable choices and avoid certain filler items that add empty calories.

5. Are Fast Food Chains Restaurants?

Fast food establishments are considered restaurants, but they are not typical restaurants. I always explain this by saying they’re “quick-service restaurants”. These establishments are part of a franchise or a restaurant chain where their supplies are delivered through a specific supply channel.

Their menu focuses on a red meat diet – think burgers and more burgers. These restaurants have a limited menu. Food is often made ahead of time and kept hot until it’s served. Many of these restaurants offer drive-throughs and take-out, but they also allow for indoor dining. Even when dining in, there’s usually no waiter or waitress. Customers order and pick up their own food at the order counter.

6. Why Is Fast Food So Tasty?

One reason why fast food tastes so good is because of how it smells. The flavor of all the food you eat is a combination of its smell and taste. The smell of fast food triggers your taste buds as you start to eat, making it much more enjoyable. Furthermore, the smell of fast food often brings back warm childhood memories, enhancing the experience.

As with junk food, fats and sugars are added to most (but not all) fast food. The more sugar and fat, the better it tastes. Plus, consuming just one meal higher in fats and sugars than usual causes your body to crave additional food like it. Basically, the more fast food you eat, the more you desire it.

7. Does Fast Food Make You Gassy?

Fast food can make a person gassy because of the types of foods they are consuming. Fast food is often high in carbohydrates and starches, both of which can cause various digestive issues, including gas. Especially when eaten in excess amounts. Ingredients like fructose can also contribute to the gassy feeling.

When consuming fast food, most people drink a carbonated soda or any other sugary drink. The carbonation is added air, which equals you drinking in additional air. The air makes its way into your digestive system, which makes you burp and fart.

Does Fast Food Make Your Farts Smell?

As most fast foods are considered processed foods, the answer is yes. They can make your farts smell. The reason behind this is that all processed foods contain high amounts of sugar alcohol. Your body isn’t designed to properly digest these high levels, and the lack of digestion leads to smelly farts.

Not to mention, fast foods are also high in carbohydrates. If your body fails to digest all the carbs that you consume in a day, the end result is some of the worst-smelling gas. Meat is high in sulfur, and studies show that high-sulfur foods cause nasty gas.

Final Thoughts

Personally, I enjoy my quick burger once in a while. That’s why I dedicated an entire article answering frequently asked questions about Burger King. Not often, but fast food restaurants can be a treat after a long night of clubbing. In my opinion they’re not a substitute for your “average restaurant”. I mean, I still prefer a table with candle light and more diverse meals to choose from. They’re a great way to spend the night with loved ones and family. But sure, fast food chains have their advantages as well. Can’t argue with that.

The word fast food covers a variety of meals and snacks. We all know the popular burgers, but also pizza and taco’s can be sold as fast food. Other examples include popcorn and hotdogs (also check out my hotdog history article).

Now that you know the basics about fast food restaurants, let’s hope the information is of help. Always good to have some background information, right? I always find it fascinating to do a little research about these restaurants. One of the things I like the most is to search for popularity. Where do people go? Why do they like a specific fast food chain? The answers can be really surprising. Here’s one article that shares the most popular fast food by State. But resources are almost endless. Anyway, thanks for stopping by and hope to see you here again in the future.

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