That’s the name of a recent column by the ever-thoughtful George Will. But first, a few facts from the column that I found interesting:

– In 2007 the company had revenues of $23 billion
– Breakfast now accounts for 25% of McDonald’s business
– 35% of McDonalds are now open 24-hours a day
– McDonald’s stock has more than doubled in the last 3 years
– McDonald’s now sells as much chicken as they do beef

 The column by Will is based off an interview with McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner, and posits the theory that America is just now moving into its third era of fast food, which started in the 1930’s when, the meals of America “began to mirror it’s mobility.” He calls this third era “The Snack Wrap Era.”

Will asserts that the first era, which he calls the “Steak ‘n Shake Era,” began in 1934. American’s were just getting used to eating out, and were leery of food from kitchens they couldn’t see, so Steak ‘n Shake put their grills behind glass so they were visible from the dining room.

The second era, “The McDonald’s Era” began in 1955. The franchising of McDonald’s offered Americans predictable food with no surprises, no matter where they traveled.

Will believes that we are just now entering the “Snack Wrap Era.” He provides logic for the addition of snack wraps to McDonald’s menu, asserting the move was:

“A response to consumer appetites for something to eat between meals and with one hand on the steering wheel. More and more Americans do not want to get out of their cars: Most of America’s McDonald’s have drive-through windows, and most of these restaurants sell most of their food through those windows.”

After this succinct first half of the column, Will meanders a bit in the second half, as he turns his focus to Jim Skinner, McDonald’s CEO and the sales performance of the company. However, Skinner makes some smart arguments about the “McDonald’s makes you fat” talking point, noting that the average American eats 90 meals a month, only 3 of which are at McDonald’s. If American’s are fat, aren’t those other 87 meals more of a problem? He points out that even McDonald’s “core customers” who eat there 50 times a year consume more than 1,000 meals elsewhere.

All in all an interesting read, and not the usual kind of column you get from George Will.

3 Responses

  1. Dave Hunter

    True, McDonald’s really can’t be assigned that much blame. If you need a scapegoat, it should be the fast food industry as a whole rather than simply its most successful company. Of course, really the blame lies with ourselves and eating/exercising habits.

    Reply
  2. Uniball Pen

    Snack wraps have brought a brand new demographic into the McDonalds drive through lane: sorority girls.

    Reply

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