Fast food restaurants are popping up all over the planet, but nowhere are they more a part of the culture than in the U.S., be it a drive-through or sit-down restaurant. While individuals have different motivations for going to fast food chains, there are specific reasons why they've became so popular and remain so.
When it comes to restaurant dining, fast food is nearly as cheap as it gets, so price is one of the primary reasons people frequent them. Finding inexpensive dining out options is especially important to families, which make up a large percentage of fast food customers. Many chains offer value meals or items for less than a dollar, counting on customers with budget sensitivity to be attracted to these options.
Fast food is simple to obtain and practically on every corner, providing a quick way to purchase a meal. As people have less and less time to dedicate to cooking meals, they turn more to the simplest available option. Since many fast food establishments have drive-through windows, diners don't even have to get out of their cars to pick up food. With the augment of healthier meal options at fast food chains, they've become even more popular.
Many fast food restaurants offer guilty pleasures on their menus, such as French fries and bacon. These elements are comfort food for many people and can be filling as well as tasty. Unfortunately, the reason fast food tastes so good is often because it's loaded with fat and sodium, but due to the outcry from customers who are increasingly health-conscious, changes in the way some items are prepared are being made which may or may not affect their taste.
Fast food restaurants spend a large amount of money on marketing their meals to consumers, and it seems to be effective. Teens, adults and parents are all separate targets of advertising, and children are also a major marketing demographic with toys and special meals aimed just for them. Many fast food chains design marketing promotions around popular sports and media events, and publicize contests as another way to get diners through their doors.
- CBS News; Americans Are Obsessed with Fast Food: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal; Eric Schlosser; January 2001
- WebMD; Top 11 Reasons for Fast Food's Popularity; Miranda Hitti; December 2008
- Mayo Clinic; Home Economics -- Fast Food vs. Homemade; Jennifer Nelson and Katherine Zeratsky; February 2009
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