First popularized in the United States in the 1950s, fast food is considered any meal with low preparation time and served to a customer in a packaged form for quick dine-in, take-out or take-away and typically with a drive-thru.
Merriam-Webster dictionary first recognized the term “fast food” in 1951.
Following World War I, automobiles became popular and more affordable. At that time drive-in restaurants were introduced. In 1921, White Castle, an American company founded by Billy Ingram and Walter Anderson in Wichita, Kansas, opened, selling hamburgers for five cents each. Anderson had opened the first White Castle in 1916 as a limited menu, high-volume, low-cost, high-speed hamburger restaurant.
The United States has the largest fast food industry in the world. American fast food restaurants are located in over 100 countries.
Standard fast food menu items include hamburgers and other sandwiches, fish, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, tacos, pizza, hot dogs, french fries, onion rings, breakfast biscuits, coffee and ice cream.
Fun fact: The first Happy Meal was served in June of 1979.