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Fast Food: Roadside Restaurants in the Automobile Age (The Road and American Culture) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: The Road and American Culture
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press (March 27, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080186920X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801869204
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,275,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"John A. Jakle and Keith A. Sculle are not into breast-beating or finger-pointing. Their mission, in this meticulously detailed study of the origins and growth of fast-food chains in the 20th century, is to understand the reasons such enterprises succeeded or failed, how the automobile affected the architectural subculture of the urban fringe, and what kinds of people have succeeded in the cutthroat business of persuading motorists to stop for a Whopper and a Super-Size order of fries... But enough nostalgia. Jakle and Sculle offer a refreshing draft of realism." -- Karal Ann Marling, New York Times Book Review



"Jakle and Sculle don't miss a trick in their fascinating in-depth tour of American eateries... Loaded with thoughtful analysis of social trends, the book tracks fast food from the emergence of the soda fountain in 1839 at a Philadelphia perfume shop (who knew?) to the modern-day ice cream wars pitting Haagen-Dazs against Ben & Jerry's." -- Entertainment Weekly



"Thorough, compendious, and businesslike, it... repays perseverance in the richness and suggestiveness of its prodigal tales." -- Eugen Weber, Times Literary Supplement



"Refreshingly free from foodie pietism. [The authors] are talking about everyday food as it is, not as it might be or should be, and the book is all the better for it... It is lucid, sensible, and well-constructed. It knows where it is going and why." -- Reay Tannahill, History Today



"[An] upbeat image of roadside restaurants. One that should prove immensely enjoyable for the over-40 crowd who are old enough to remember the early days and the long-gone names and logos... The authors very rightly tie together a nation's passion for eating with its love of the automobile." -- Bruce Heydt, American History



"A great nostalgia trip... Jakle and Sculle go to great lengths to understand the industry. They unearth surprising tidbits from sources as mundane as postcards of old restaurants." -- Louis Jacobson, Washington City Paper



"Fast food... is a big subject which needed a big, juicy book; this is it. Jakle and Sculle are geographer and historian, authors already of the definitive works on the American motel and the American gas station. In fast food, they have found the perfect subject for their meticulous surveys: a cabinet of curiosities and the picture of a cultural fact which is a powerful down your local high street as on some California highway... Their book, unlike their subject, is downright nourishing." -- Michael Pye, The Scotsman



"An important contribution to the literature... Place is an important concept in this book on fast foods. In their previous work, Jakle and Sculle have developed the concept of place product packaging. It's certainly a valuable approach to understanding patterns of locations to sleep and fill up the tank. With food, however, a full appreciation of the holistic dynamics of place comes through.... Well written and fun reading... this book qualifies for coffee table prominence. In other words, it's lively and entertaining enough that almost everyone will enjoy picking up a copy and scanning the old photos and stories." -- Ary J. Lamme III, Historical Geography



"Amply illustrated and written in straightforward prose, Fast Food offers a treasure trove of information and insight." -- James R. Curtis, Professional Geographer

From the Publisher

"A meticulously detailed study of the origins and growth of fast-food chains in the 20th century."—Karal Ann Marling, New York Times Book Review

"Jakle and Sculle don't miss a trick in their fascinating in-depth tour of American eateries . . . Loaded with thoughtful analysis of social trends, the book tracks fast food from the emergence of the soda fountain in 1839 at a Philadelphia perfume shop (who knew?) to the modern-day ice cream wars pitting Haagen-Dazs against Ben & Jerry's."—Entertainment Weekly

"Thorough, compendious, and businesslike, it . . . repays perseverance in the richness and suggestiveness of its prodigal tales."—Eugen Weber, Times Literary Supplement


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Doug Pappas on May 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book much more than the previous reviewer, but he has a point. FAST FOOD, like the other titles in the "Road and American Culture" series, should not be confused with the typical book on "roadside Americana": it's not a lighthearted, heavily illustrated volume designed to evoke nostalgic memories. If that's what you want, search for titles written by John Margolies or Michael Karl Witzel, or published by Chronicle Books.
This is a serious examination of casual dining in America, from the lunch wagons which once served urban laborers through the chains which now cluster near every exit along the Interstate. Taken on its own terms, the book is a success, assembling more information (well-annotated, with an excellent bibliography) than any previous title on the topic. Just be sure you know what you're getting into!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By saskatoonguy on March 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This could best be described as a detailed history of chain-restaurants (not just fast food). It opens with a history of 'quick-service' eating establishments in the US, taking the reader through the history of tea rooms, roadside stands, diners, and other more recent permutations. Most of the book is devoted to histories of chain-restaurant companies, which amount to something less than riveting reading. The authors have thoroughly researched the history of every restaurant chain in painstaking detail, but rarely are these written in a way that makes for a gripping story. An exception is the Indiana-based 'Snappy Service' chain (closed in 1983), which is described in a way that brings its entrepreneur to life. The last chapter describes the pattern of chain restaurants that evolved in Springfield, Illinois. The book is profusely illustrated with well over a hundred photos and dozens of maps. One glaring error appears in a series of five maps (pp. 154-157) analyzing McDonald's domination of rival chains, in which the ratio of McDonald's to competitors was inverted.
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23 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
What could be more entertaining than a book about fast-food? What could be more fun than reading the history of Wendy's and Long john Silver, of hamburgers and hotdogs? Unfortunately the writers of 'Fast food' have a very bad case of sociologist's jargon. Most of the book is as exciting and as readable as a management study and many a paragraph goes beyond the comprehension of this reader, even though he graduated in literature. Moreover the writers do not bother to hide their cultured disdain for the food they write about. So notwithstanding the many interesting facts and observations in this book, in the end there is very little to enjoy.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By George Boehme on July 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I liked it so much I brought a copy for a friend of mine. It tells you EVERYTHING you could ever want to know anout fast food in America.
The book will provide you with more fast food trivia than even the nerdiest person in the world would ever want to hear.
A great coffee table book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marc A. Mordue on March 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Completely enjoyed the book. Filled with facts and numerous photos of old roadside restaurants and diners. The authors did a great job with the research and presented in an easy to understand way. Perfect companion with their other books pertaining to Motels and Service Stations.
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