Like it or not, fast food dining is now an indelible part of American life. More than one-fourth of all Americans eat fast food every single day and 8 out of 10 eat it at least once a month. That means we’re all spending an inordinate amount of time sitting on plastic chairs in fast food dining rooms, standing in line at registers, disposing of our own trash, and navigating our vehicles through ever-changing drive-thrus. Sometimes that experience is good, but a lot of the time it’s not.
Some things about the fast food experience can’t really be changed, but the things that can be changed, aren’t always changed for the better. We may be eating fast food more than ever before, but in the process of increasing the niche cheap burgers and tacos fill in our lives the experience of eating them hasn’t really gotten better.
You can read our list of the ten best modern fast food innovations, but these are the ten worst modern fast food innovations, in no particular order...
1. The Demise Of SupersizeIn 2004 filmmaker Morgan Spurlock released a movie called Super Size Me, which lambasted McDonalds for giving people the option to make their meals bigger. Facing a PR disaster, McDonalds stopped Super Sizing their menu items. Or at least that’s what they said. In reality they kept right on super sizing them and just dropped the term. So, instead of walking up to the counter and saying rather simply and clearly, “I’ll have a number one, super sized!” customers are now forced to hem and haw around with uncertain and far less satisfying terminology.
Thanks to Morgan Spurlock, we’re still getting fatter but we’re having a lot less fun doing it. “I’ll have a number one, er, big, er, large-sized?” Doesn’t have the same ring to it. If I’m going to eat it anyway, I’d rather Super Size it.
2. Calories Count Me OutListen, I know ordering fast food isn’t a good decision. I have common sense, and I read the news. Eating fast food every day for forty years will put a cow-sized blockage in my arteries and probably give me a heart attack. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to indulge once every few weeks and savor every terrible-for-me-bite. Unfortunately, it’s pretty damn hard to do that when I’m forced to look at the number of calories I’m about to eat in giant text as I’m ordering.
Deep down, I know I’m about to consume 2,000 calories, but superficially, I don’t want to know for sure. I want to round down and chalk the experience up to a worthwhile splurge that will make me feel better emotionally, at least briefly. Seeing the calories written out as an honest to Ronald McDonald fact is the equivalent of seeing a giant blinking light that says “A Baby Might Come From This” every single time I have sex. I get it. I really do. But I don’t want to think about it.
Does that make me a delusional idiot living in a naïve fantasyland of denial? Sure. But considering I’m only going there once or twice a month, I’m fine with that.
Disagree? Think calories on the menu are a good idea? Then you'll probably like this: Why On Menu Calories Are A Good Idea
3. The Rising Cost Of Cheap FoodI suppose this one was inevitable. Cokes aren’t a dime anymore. The world evolves and inflation pushes prices higher and higher, but over the past five years or so, the escalation in rates hasn’t exactly been a trickle. Inspired to get rid of some of the weird filler substances and be a little more humane in their animal rights practices, many of the fast food places have been forced to start eliminating dollar menus or greatly reduce the number of choices that are dollar menu eligible. Even worse, they’ve begun raising prices on many of the other menu items to the point where ordering a combo, with tax, can now reach upwards of eight or nine dollars. That’s just a few dollars less than the lower-end sit-down chains, and it makes conventional fast food a whole lot less appealing.
I get needing to make money. Losing the dollar menu was inevitable, but something needs to be done about how quickly the prices are hiking. Our fast food nation was built on being a cheap alternative just as much as it was on being convenient, and there’s nothing that feels valuable or thrifty about getting out a five dollar bill and three ones to pay for a low quality cheeseburger option.