Imagine you are walking down the street, on a road trip, right after class. Your stomach growls and your eyes are drawn immediately to the neon bright lights and the appeasing trait of getting sustenance quickly. You walk in, order, and walk out with a bag of burgers, tacos, or even chicken wings.
The accessibility as well as the convenience of fast food joints have their benefits that are equally challenged by their drawbacks. While fast food allows us to eat as quick as possible and continue with our lives, our dependence upon these places make it so that we are not eating as healthy.
Furthermore, in some circumstances, since we are in constant expectation that these places will be around every street corner, the reaction that ensues when a certain location vouches not to have the chain present in a particular area is often a displeasure.
For many people, the convenience that fast food chains provide help to get them through their day without having to stop to make food or sit down at an expensive restaurant. Maybe a mom with multiple children doesn’t have time to stop at her house to make a full meal between bussing her children to where they need to be. Or maybe a little closer to home, as a college student with little funds of their own, has to survive on Flex at campus dining locations like the Elliot University Center’s various options.
While the food might not be the best for you, it allows the buyer to come in or order from a window and go on towards the remainder of their days. However, the issue then becomes, are we becoming too attached to these chains?
While the aforementioned convenience to these fast food chains does ring obvious due to the fact that someone can’t walk down one street without seeing a multitude of chains in competition with one another, there is an almost addictive nature to these chains as though without them, we would die from starvation.
When considering stereotypes mentioned when discussing Americans, a majority of them are directed towards our behavior, such as being arrogant, disrespectful, or ignorant. However, these stereotypes also spread into the types of foods we are associated with, some including greasy burgers, hot dogs, and pizza.
These fast food chains have become linked with our society, but equally as so with our appearance. In this regard, one might claim that this relationship between us and fast food chains leaves America as a cultural wasteland, stating America has become desolate and barren in regards to anything “of worth in terms of spiritually, intellectually, or aesthetically.”
When looking at other countries in response to our insistence towards fast food, their perception varies greatly.
For many countries, such as Japan, England, or China, they have embraced the inclusion of fast food on their streets, even going as far as creating their own types of local special items on their menus, in comparison to where the joint is located. Some examples are the McLobster, in Canada, and the Kiwiburger, in New Zealand.
In these cases, America’s insistence to have fast food at every corner, including every corner of the world, is making the convenience and accessibility spread to as many other countries as possible.
However, recently this drive for fast food on every street corner has been challenged. The location in question is the Vatican City, in Italy.
Amidst protests from both cardinals and citizens, a McDonald’s has squeezed its way onto St. Peter’s Square. While many might argue that it is simply a fast food chain and that it is just being put there for our benefit, others point out the ultimately disrespectful message that is being overlooked.
The Vatican City, a place with history and an importance to its country, genuinely fought this. Some cardinals were upset that they were not told of the plans for this chain to be put in; one of those cardinals, Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, spoke to the addition of the chain, calling it “a controversial, perverse decision, to say the least.” He goes on to claim that “selling mega-sandwiches in Borgo Pio is a disgrace,” since the money being spend on burgers could be better spent elsewhere.
While fast food chains are handy, allowing people to get their food and go on with their days, the fact that the chains have been forcing their way into places where they are not welcome is highly disrespectful.
Interestingly enough, the McDonald’s/Vatican City situation was not the first occurrence of a chain trying to force their way into Italy; McDonald’s planned to build a restaurant in the historic Piazza del Duomo, in Florence. However, due to a petition, it was forced to cease its plans entirely, to which the chain responded with a lawsuit to the city of Florence.
In both circumstances, the symbolism behind the Vatican and the Piazza del Duomo is being overshadowed by our Western instinct of desire for our needs to be met, even when we are away from home. If we only need to walk around the corner to find fast food, then why is it imperative to find one on every street, a feat that is highly unnecessary, especially when it wasn’t wanted there in the first place.