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Drive-through restaurants were first popularized in the 1950s in the United States. They are also high in saturated fat, sugar, salt and calories. The traditional family dinner is increasingly being replaced by the consumption of takeaway, or eating “on the run”. As a result, the time invested on food preparation is getting lower and lower, with an average couple in the United States spending 47 minutes and 19 seconds per day on food preparation in 2013. The concept of ready-cooked food for sale is closely connected with urban developments. Homes in emerging cities often lacked adequate space or proper food preparation accouterments. Additionally, procuring cooking fuel could cost as much as purchased produce.
Frying foods in vats of searing oil proved as dangerous as it was expensive, and homeowners feared that a rogue cooking fire “might easily conflagrate an entire neighborhood”. Thus, urbanites were encouraged to purchase pre-prepared meats or starches, such as bread or noodles, whenever possible. It was during post-WWII American economic boom that Americans began to spend more and buy more as the economy boomed and a culture of consumerism bloomed. As a result of this new desire to have it all, coupled with the strides made by women while the men were away, both members of the household began to work outside the home.
Eating out, which had previously been considered a luxury, became a common occurrence, and then a necessity. Workers, and working families, needed quick service and inexpensive food for both lunch and dinner. Fast food became an easy option for a busy family, as is the case for many families today. Forum itself served as a marketplace where Romans could purchase baked goods and cured meats.
In Asia, 12th century Chinese scarfed down fried dough, soups, and stuffed buns, all of which still exist as contemporary snack food. Their Baghdadi contemporaries supplemented home-cooked meals with processed legumes, purchased starches, and even ready-to-eat meats. As in Roman cities during antiquity, many of these establishments catered to those who did not have means to cook their own food, particularly single households. Unlike richer town dwellers, many often could not afford housing with kitchen facilities and thus relied on fast food. Tommyfield Market marks the origin of the fish and chip shop and fast food industries. By 1910, there were more than 25,000 fish and chip shops across the UK, and in the 1920s there were more than 35,000 shops.
British fast food had considerable regional variation. More recently, healthier alternatives to conventional fast food have also emerged. Among its innovations, the company allowed customers to see the food being prepared. American fast food restaurants are located in over 100 countries. Worries of an obesity epidemic and its related illnesses have inspired many local government officials in the United States to propose to limit or regulate fast-food restaurants. However, some areas are more affected than others.