Fast Food Nation Chapter Summaries

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“The whole experience of buying fast food has become so routine, so thoroughly unexceptional and mundane, that it is now taken for granted, like brushing your teeth or stopping for a red light. It has become a social custom as American as a small, rectangular, hand-held, frozen, and reheated apple pie.” Schlosser descriptively sets the scene for the backdrop of his book, the city of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Cheyenne Mountain looks like any other beautiful Rocky Mountain vista, but in reality, it surreptitiously houses the North American Aerospace Command. During the 1950s, the US government feared their air defenses were vulnerable to attack and chose Cheyenne Mountain to be the underground combat operations center. Hollowed out, the mountain contains 15 three-story buildings inside and 1,500 people work inside everyday. The complex even has its own cafeteria, fitness center, dentist, chapel and barber shop. Whenever the people stationed at the base want something new to eat, someone is often called to deliver Domino’s or pick up fast food from the nearby town. The author playfully muses that, should America be attacked in the future, Cheyenne Mountain may be the only place with artifacts of our civilization – “Burger King wrappers, hardened crusts of Cheesy Bread, Barbeque Wings bones, and the red, white, and blue of a Domino’s pizza box.” What started as a small food stand in southern California has now spread all over the nation. Schlosser says fast food “has infiltrated every nook and cranny of American society.” Shockingly, Americans spend more today on fast food than higher education, computers, or new cars. Schlosser estimates, “On any given day in the United States about one-quarter of the country’s adult population visits a fast food restaurant.” The author argues that the powerful rise of fast food industry happened quickly and “not only transformed the American diet, but also out landscape, economy, workforce, and popular culture.” Importantly, Schlosser draws parallels between Cheyenne Mountain and today’s fast food industry. Both “conceal remarkable technological advances behind an ordinary-looking facade.” Colorado Springs was chosen as a focal point for book because the changes in this city reflect those of the fast food industry. Schlosser says the city’s population has more than doubled in the last few decades and “the Rocky Mountain region as a whole has the fastest-growing economy in the United States, mixing high-tech and service industries in a way that may define America’s workforce to come.” Schlosser admits that during the writing process of this book, he ate a lot of fast food and that he does not look down on it in an “elitist” or “aesthetic” way. His greater concern is the way fast food is marketed to children and is prepared by people that are only a few years older. He feels consumers are attracted to fast food for three simple reasons: * it tastes good

* it is inexpensive
* it is convenient
Chapter 1: Founding Fathers
“What had begun as a series of small, regional businesses became a fast food industry, a major component of the American economy.” This chapter describes the rise of today’s largest fast food restaurants. He begins with Carl N. Karcher, whose modest beginning on a farm in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, led to the birth of fast food. Karcher was born in 1917 and dropped out of school in the eighth grade to work full time on his father’s farm. Eventually, he was offered a job by one of his uncles in Anaheim, California. Karcher worked at his uncle’s Feed and Seed Store selling goods to local farmers and also took a job delivering bread for bakery. He was amazed by the number of local hot dog stands popping up everywhere. When he heard one was for sale nearby, he decided to buy it. At the same time, Los Angeles was growing rapidly and cars were becoming the main form of transportation. Car culture led to the world’s...
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