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Fast-food restaurant

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A fast-food restaurant is a restaurant characterized by food which is supplied quickly after ordering (and which may or may not be consumed quickly as well), and by minimal service. The food in these restaurants is commonly cooked in bulk in advance and kept hot, or reheated to order. Many fast-food restaurants are part of restaurant chains or franchise operations, which provide standardized foodstuffs to the individual restaurants, shipped from central locations.

There are also simpler fast-food outlets, like just a stand or kiosk, with or without shelter for customers, and with or without a few chairs to eat sitting.

Because of its convenience, fast food (also known as take-away food or take-out food) is very popular in many modern societies, but is often criticized on grounds of poor nutritional value (often contributing to obesity, derogatorily called junk food), exploitative advertising (especially directed at children), and other issues. A recent unsuccessful court case in the US over obesity raised this as a legal matter of liability, but was rejected on the grounds that the defendant should have known that fast food may be unhealthy.

Very often they are implicated in environmental damage, e.g., Burger King's use of beef raised in former Amazon Rainforest lands that had been cleared for cattle production. Some fast food restaurants have also become targets for opponents of globalization and for anti-American demonstrations.

Within the United States, fast food restaurants have been losing market share to so-called fast casual restaurants which offer somewhat better and more expensive foods. In 2002, the McDonald's Corporation posted its first quarterly loss.

Because of this reliance on monoculture, on foodstuffs purchased on global commodity markets and on its displacement of local eating habits, the fast-food industry is seen by many as destroying local styles of cuisine. It is often a focus of resistance (e.g., José Bové's bulldozing a McDonald's which made him a folk hero in France, or the "McShit" campaign in the UK).

For all these reasons, the Slow Food movement seeks to preserve local cuisines and ingredients, and directly opposes laws and habits that favor fast-food choices. Among other things, it strives to educate consumers' palates to prefer the richer and more varied local tastes of fresh ingredients harvested in season.

Although fast-food restaurants are often seen as a mark of modern technological culture, they are probably as old as cities themselves, with the style varying from culture to culture. Ancient Roman cities had bread-and-olive stands, East Asian cultures feature noodle shops, flat bread and falafel are characteristic of the Middle East.

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Modern fast-food restaurants




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  • Burger Barn in the movie What's Eating Gilbert Grape?[?]. A major event in the small fictional town of Endora, Iowa, is the arrival of the prefabricated restaurant. Quotes:
    • Tucker: They use canola oil, okay? Do you know what canola oil is? Probably don't. Probably don't even sell it at Lamson's Grocery. It's cutting edge! It creates a crispier french fry and a more unique product. And Burger Barn... forget Wendy's, forget Burger King, forget McDonald's, that's like old hat. Burger Barn is cutting edge. I mean, I could really stand behind it. It's an innovative place!
    • Arnie: Hey! Hey! Look at here! Look at here! Look what's coming! Look, look it's coming! It's here, huh Gilbert! You see it, huh! It's the Burger Barn, Gilbert, the Burger Barn! Gilbert it's the Burger Barn! Aaaaa! Burger Barn! Aaaa!


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