Note - Most of the characters discussed in this book are real-life and well-known icons of the American retail food industry. Please keep in mind that the author of this book had an intended purpose of portraying the American fast food industry as a socially unconcerned bastion of corporate greed influenced only by the collection of dollars through the exploit of the naiveté and health of its citizens. Others may argue that Americans actually love to eat these products and are happy for what these men/companies have produced for our chosen consumption and convenience in the furthering of our country. Despite either opinion, Fast Food is not going away. Please keep an open mind and make your own determination. In summary, this is just a study guide of the title, so please form your own opinion independently as you read the full book.
Carl N. Karcher - Carl is one of the American fast-food industry’s pioneers. He was born in 1917 in Ohio and dropped out of school after the eighth grade. At twenty-years-old, Carl moved to Anaheim, California where he began his first hotdog stand. Carl eventually turned his hotdog stands into drive-in restaurants. After observing the first McDonald’s restaurants success, Carl started expanding and developed the Carl’s Jr’s. restaurants that many Americans (particularly on the west coast) are familiar with today. In 1997, the corporation expanded dramatically with the acquisition of the Hardee's Restaurant chain. In 2004, CKE Restaurants, Inc. (Carl's Jr's parent company) had revenues in excess of 1.4 billion dollars.
Richard and Maurice McDonald - Richard and Maurice were brothers from New Hampshire who began the first McDonald’s restaurant (called The McDonald Brothers Burger Bar Drive-In) in southern California in 1937. In 1948 the brothers revolutionized the fast food industry by firing their carhops, using disposable plates and cups to serve only food that did not need to be eaten with utensils.
William Rosenberg - William dropped out of school at age fourteen. He worked as a salesman, delivered telegrams, and sold sandwiches and coffee. Finally, in 1948 he opened a coffee and donut shop, called Dunkin’ Donuts.
Glen W. Bell, Jr. - Glen was a World War II veteran who decided to open a Mexican-food restaurant, using the same system as McDonald’s. He called the restaurant Taco Bell.
Keith G. Cramer and Matthew Burns - Keith owned a drive-in restaurant in Daytona Beach, Florida and upon hearing about McDonald’s opened Insta-Burger King, with his father-in-law, Matthew.
Dave Thomas - Dave dropped out of school at fifteen-years-old. After working as a bus boy and a cook, he eventually founded Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers restaurant in Columbus, Ohio in 1969. Today, thousands of Wendy's restaurant's still bear his daughters name and remain popular throughout the world. Dave is probably best known as the "guy on the Wendy's TV commercials". From 1989 to 2002, Dave appeared in over 800 commercials for the restaurant chain. He died after a long battle with liver cancer in 2002.
Thomas S. Monaghan - Tom was a former Marine (1956-1959) who spent his childhood in an orphanage and various foster homes, While a student at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) he and his brother James purchased a small pizza store in Ypsilanti, Michigan named DomiNick's. The restaurant later came to be called Domino’s. Today Domino's Pizza (founded in 1960) is one of the leading retail pizza chains in the world with gross revenues of over 1.5 billion dollars in 2004. Tom retired from the company in 1998, but retained a 27% ownership stake.
Harland Sanders - Harland left school at twelve-years-old and practiced various professions, including farm hand, fireman, lawyer, and doctor (these last two, without licenses). Eventually, he came to selling home-cooked food at his gas station. When he opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1952 he dressed up as a Kentucky colonel to promote the chain.
Ray Kroc - Ray was a high school dropout from Illinois selling milk-shake mixers in Southern California, when, in 1954 he met the McDonald brothers. He wondered why they needed so many milk-shake mixers and bought the rights to franchise their restaurant. He became a pioneer in the fast-food industry, creating characters that rivaled Mickey Mouse in name recognition.
Walt Disney - Walt Disney was another high school dropout from Illinois, who became Ray Kroc’s biggest rival when he wouldn’t put a McDonald’s in Disneyland. Walt Disney’s empire became a model for marketing to children.
Dave Feamster - Dave owns the Little Caesars restaurant in Pueblo, CO. After he got hurt, playing in the NHL, he opened the restaurant.
J.R. Simplot - J.R. Simplot was born in 1909 and grew up working on his family’s farm in Idaho. When he dropped out of school and left home at fifteen, he found work in a potato house. By age sixteen, he was a potato farmer. Soon, Simplot was buying, selling, and sorting potatoes--eventually becoming the largest shipper of potatoes in the West. During World War II, Simplot made a fortune selling dried onions and potatoes to the American military. Following the war, Simplot invested in frozen food technology and, in the 1950s, began selling frozen french fries to McDonalds.