McDonald’s ranks as one of the largest fast food
chains not only in the United States but around the world. It’s becoming almost impossible to visit any country in the world and not find McDonald’s
What accounts for McDonald’s success? Probably the biggest factor accounting for its success has been its marketing prowess. More specifically, the company has targeted kids, and at very early ages. What’s more, in recent years, it has had product tie-ins with blockbuster movies coming to the big screen. With kids as young as two being able to identify the golden arches by sight and parents willing to indulge their kids in their eating preferences, business at McDonald’s has boomed over the long term.
In recent years, however, a book, Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and a documentary, Morgan Surplock’s Super Size Me , have prompted some customers–actual and prospective–to stop buying food at McDonald’s.
Fast Food Nation , while covering some of McDonald’s activities, does not limit itself to a consideration of that company alone. Rather, it provides readers with information about the market in general for fast food in the United States. Identifying several of the leading firms in the industry, the book presents information on the farmers and/or companies that provide McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s., and others with the beef for their burgers and the potatoes for their fries.
Not surprisingly, it’s truly big business keeping those chains supplied with the essential ingredients needs to serve the food listed on their menus. As a result, a number of people have become fabulously wealthy, working with the fast food chains. Given their activities, key segments of the agribusiness sector of the U.S. economy have changed the way they operate. Based on the picture presented by Schlosser in his book, some of the changes have been harmful to people who work in the industry. HIs description, for example, of what takes place in slaugtherhouses, as workers prepare beef for shipment to fast food companies begs the question of how effective governmental health and safety regulations actually are.
As for Spurlock’s documentary, it shows the effects on his own health of consuming nothing but food and beverages from McDonald’s during a 30-day period. Before beginning the experiment, Spurlock was in good health. However, as he continued to dine exclusively on fare from McDonald’s, his health deteriorated noticeably, effectively putting his life at risk.
During the course of the 30 days, doctors monitored his medical condition, keeping him informed as to the specific types of changes taking place within his body. He, ini turn, described changes he himself was noticing in his behavior and difficulties he was having in following daily routines.
Not surprisingly, given the growing concern in the United States about people being appreciably overweight, Spurlock’s experiment appears to lend support to the belief that food served at McDonald’s (and other fast food chains) (1) is a major contributing factor to obesity and (2) a steady diet of fast food jeopardizes a person’s long-term health and well-being.
One of the advantages of McDonald’s advertising has been that it has grabbed customers when they were children and held on them as they aged. Thus, it’s customer base has become multigenerational and well-entrenched. However, as people become more aware of obesity problems and seek solutions to them, McDonald’s has made changes in its food offerings. Its menu, for example, has been expanding beyond burgers and fries, to include foods which are considered to be more healthy and which contribute to the eating of a well-balanced diet.
As the general public continues to wrestle with the problem of obesity, managers at McDonald’s (and other fast food companies) can’t help but wonder how it will affect the numbers of people choosing to eat their food.