Origin of fast food
Words nearby fast food
Other definitions for fast food (2 of 2)
Origin of fast-food
ABOUT THIS WORD
What does fast food mean?
Fast food is food quickly prepared and served, often at chain restaurants and typically associated with less expensive and less nutritious items like hamburgers, french fries, and soft drinks.
Where does fast food come from?
The term fast food dates back to at least 1951, an industry term describing the new, and now ubiquitous, trend of restaurants providing food—fast. Its earliest use characterized service (e.g., fast-food service) before extending to the food served itself.
A prototype for fast-food restaurants were fish-and-chip shops in the U.K. starting in the 1860s. These provided quick, portable, and filling food on the go for dock workers and other city dwellers. In 1921, White Castle opened the first modern fast-food restaurant selling the now-familiar hamburgers and fries. In the 1950s, the term fast food emerged to describe this kind of grab-and-go meal available at new car-friendly restaurants such as McDonald’s, now synonymous with fast food across the globe.
Fast food had become so familiar, as a term and phenomenon, by the 1970s that fast food was used metaphorically for any mass-produced, cheap product (e.g., a fast-food education or the fast food of medicine).
How is fast food used in real life?
Fast food is widely used in speech and writing to refer to a meal or food item that is made and served quickly. It can be a noun (e.g., we ate fast food on our road trip) or adjective (e.g., fast-food fries are greasy but delicious).
Fast food typically connotes hamburgers and fries, as vended, often through drive-throughs, by leading brands such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. But, fast food also includes sandwiches (Subway), burritos (Chipotle), fried chicken (KFC), pizza (Pizza Hut), Chinese food (Panda Express), desserts (Dairy Queen), and even coffee (Starbucks). Especially in Europe, fast food notably includes kebabs, gyros, and fish and chips.
Because fast food has been historically unhealthy, it sparked a backlash movement in the late 1970s that advocated for slow food. The idea is that food that takes longer to prepare—and is not ultra-processed—is healthier. Today, fast-food companies have taken steps to make their offerings healthier by offering options like salads.
Given historically low wages and challenging work conditions, fast food has also been used to connote a mindless, dead-end job (e.g., He’ll end up flipping burgers at a fast-food joint).
More examples of fast food:
“Today is National Fast Food Day! Did you know Robert C. Baker, the inventor of the chicken nugget, was a Purdue alum?
—@LifeAtPurude, November 2017
“America’s fast-food desserts straddle two very different categories: our country’s most horrific edible disasters and our most cherished culinary treasures.”
—Daniela Galarza & Ryan Sutton, Eater, April, 2018
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
How to use fast food in a sentence
Given that Popeyes created a sensation when its chicken sandwich came out, it’s no wonder some fast food chains are already trying to compete with the new flounder option.Popeyes Is Hoping for Another Hit With Its New Cajun Flounder Sandwich|Jaya Saxena|February 10, 2021|Eater
Landing somewhere between promotional menu item and endorsement deal, the celebrity fast food order is somehow neither.Celebrities have always done endorsements. Now they sell their fast food orders.|Jameson Rich|February 5, 2021|Vox
On any given day, 36 percent of American adults eat fast food, according to a 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
They’ve done an incredible job creating not just propaganda but the marketing efforts with the American flag and the fast food and the movies, that has sort of shaped the image of America all across the world.
More and more traditional food companies have launched plant-based meat brands, more and more fast food and casual dining restaurants have added menu options, and major players in the field have raised a lot of money.Impossible Foods’ plant-based meat just got closer to the price of regular meat|Kelsey Piper|February 2, 2021|Vox
And there is definitely something to finding solace in food, familiarity, and memory.
Finding a smuggler in Ventimiglia is easier than finding good food.
Talking about death is never easy, but with food, comfort, and familiarity, a new kind of dinner party is making it easier.
The focus here was on how fast oil would come out of the Canadian fields.
Both high fashion and the fast, commercial fashion of Target are supposed to be about aspiration.One Vogue Cover Doesn’t Solve Fashion’s Big Race Problem|Danielle Belton|January 2, 2015|DAILY BEAST
And I have not had the first morsel of food prepared from this grain offered me since I reached the shores of Europe.Glances at Europe|Horace Greeley
The tears came so fast to Mrs. Pontellier's eyes that the damp sleeve of her peignoir no longer served to dry them.The Awakening and Selected Short Stories|Kate Chopin
There are a number of bacilli, called acid-fast bacilli, which stain in the same way as the tubercle bacillus.A Manual of Clinical Diagnosis|James Campbell Todd
You see, they always butter their chairs so that they won't stick fast when they sit down.Davy and The Goblin|Charles E. Carryl
You see, I am the city undertaker, and the people are dying here so fast, that I can hardly supply the demand for coffins.