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Abstract

The fast food industry quickly found the development in the United States of America. It has led to the situation when many Americans children prefer “junk food” over home cooking. This research paper reveals the brief history of the fast food industry and why children in the U.S. love to eat it. It highlights the contribution of the parents to this process. It shows the marketing strategy of the fast food industry that directed to attract the attention of the children as strong as possible. It provides an answer why the fast food is so tasty for children and why they love it.

Children and Fast Food in US

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The modern rise of the economy and development of the supply chain management created the opportunities for quick growth of the different businesses all over the United States of America. It gave a push for the development of the food industry as well. The bunch of various chain restaurants filled the country with different style of food. America, known as a country of immigrants, faced the diversity of food from different cultures. The new role in this development of the food industry obtained a quick grown phenomenon as “fast food” or “junk food”. New tastes and cuisine attracted attention of all residents of the country. It was difficult to withdraw for adults against many advantages that were offered by the fast food industry. Unfortunately, from the very beginning, it was little known about the negative impact that this food will make on the health conditions of the visitors of the fast food restaurants. The bright taste, fast service and the colorful atmosphere of the fast food industry insensibly created the dependence of the populations on the “junk food”. Over the time, the fast food industry created all necessary conditions in order to attract children to eat this food. The fast food became so popular among young population that the amount of children that use fast food restaurants as place to eat critically increased. “On any given day, one in every three children eats a fast-food meal at McDonald's, Burger King and the like, according to a new U.S. study. The children who eat fast food consume, on average, an additional 187 calories daily, the researchers found” (Picard, 2004). It is approximately 30% of the children in the United States. The wide spread of the popularity of the fast food among children is an achievement of the marketing campaign of the fast food companies, parents habits to eat fast food, and only then a taste of the “junk food”.

In order to understand why children in the United States of America love fast food, we have to take a quick look at what is exactly the fast food and at the history of this industry. Fast food is a concept, which includes the use of fast prepared food, usually offered by specialized institutions. The term of "fast food" refers to food that can be cooked quickly and it is convenient for the client to quickly eat it. Fast food industry emerged in the 1920s in America. In 1921, the company opened in Kansas White Castle, a special restaurant which was unusual at that time. The food was unusual either. The stable price on burgers and unusual food attracted buyers. The safety of the product has been dispelled by its owner. In the late 1940s, the company began to appear White Castle competitors. The most serious was the McDonald's. As a result, the industry that started from one facility and hot dogs turned into a wide spread phenomenon of the American society. Today, McDonald’s has many thousands restaurants all over the country and is planning to open two thousands of new facilities of each year. As we see, the quick distribution of the fast food in our time is playing a key role in our choice of food diet.  

  Why the history of the fast food industry and the concept of the fast food are important in the understanding of the relation between the fast food and why children love it? We have to understand that the one of the main reasons why children eat fast food is influence and eating habits of their parents. What parents eat will later be reflected in the children eating habits. “Researchers in one study found that mothers who drink milk have daughters who also drink more milk and less pop. Another study by the same researchers found that mothers who eat more vegetables and fruit have daughters who eat more vegetables and fruit” (Eat Right Ontario, 2012). Children have the ability to copy the parent’s habits. The eating habit is not the exception. From the early childhood, children notice how the meals are structured on the dinner table, where parents like to eat and what exactly they eat. Over the early years of their development, they learn the family attitude, culture and beliefs that are related tothe eating habits.

From the beginning of the fast food industry, parents started to change their eating habits. More Americans changed their traditions to prepare food at home. They became more often visit fast food restaurants with children in order to eat. So, in some way the conception “why children love fast food” is directly linked with the conception “why parents love fast food”. The reasons for parents to visit fast food restaurants are obvious. It is convenient to come and have food in a short period of time. For them it is tasty and not expensive. Parents do not need spend extra time for preparing food at home for the whole family. It saves their time and efforts. This is the first stage of the process of attracting children to eat fast food and love it. Unfortunately, this stage is provided with unconsciousness decisions of parents.

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There are a lot of others factors that make the contribution to the concept of loving fast food by children in the US. The other most significant argument why children love fast food is aimed marketing campaign of the fast food industry to attract as more children as possible to eat in fast food restaurants. It is not a secret that each segment of the business is working in the direction of attacking new customers. There are a lot of marketing approaches how to determine the target audience, build brand loyalty and create the constant flow of customers. Fast food industry operates with all of those principles. First of all, it attracts the attention of the children through the advertisings. The owners of the fast food industry spend millions of dollars on the advertisings of their products. Most of the ads are focus on the children’s attention. Today, in the advertising field are working professionals. The methods of the interventions on the children psyche has long been studied and described in the literature. The professionals of the advertising front perfectly know them and effectively use through the screens of TV-sets. Multiple logical accents, pauses, changes of tone and intonation, gestures are making a great influence on the open and naïve children’s minds. They are almost in a trance and ready to absorb everything. Repeated several times advertising installation securely attached to the subconscious level and quietly does his job. As a result, children make their choice in favor of the fast food. A child may be exposed to advertising, not even paying attention to it. Advertising works on a subconscious level, even when children are playing in one room with the television and do not pay attention on it. It is not a surprise, when after several years the choice of the young generation will be stopped on the advertised products. For example, McDonald’s spend a lot of dollars on the advertising campaign. “McDonald’s Corp. spent $1.201 billion on U.S. advertising in 2008, ranking it No. 29 among the 100 largest advertisers, Advertising Age magazine reports in its June 22 issue.” (Burger Business, 2009). It is not difficult to conclude that such amount of advertising makes a great impact on children and their eating habits. Moreover, McDonalds use not only the advertising through the television. It uses it on the billboards, radio, newspapers and on the major sport events. Thus, there is no chance for the children to escape from the advertising influence of the fast food industry.

The next very important factor of the marketing that we should keep in mind is bright colors of the fast food facilities. “Most fast food restaurants are decorated with vivid reds and oranges? It's no accident that these colors show up so frequently. Studies have shown that reds and oranges encourage diners to eat quickly and leave -- and that's exactly what fast food outlets want you to do” (Campbell, 2008). They are also designed to attract attention of children and make them feel comfortable within the food facility. It is a nature of children to like bright colors. That is why they like cartoons and fast food restaurants. There are everything painted in bright colors. Inside and outside interior of the building, plastic trays, packaging and even food on the menu seems bright.

The other very effective approach from the side of the owners of the fast food industry was the introduction of the toys and cartoon characters to the “junk food” industry.  It is the one of the strongest approaches to create in the children the desire to come to the fast food facilities and eat there. “Fast food restaurants invest about 10 billion dollars a year to entice children to eat at their establishments” (Ipatenco, 2012). When parents buy food in the fast food facility and it is accompanied with the purchase of the toy, it is the perfect marketing tool that is used to attract children. In this case, the food that goes with the toy is probably less important for thhe kids. So, the main principle of this marketing approach is that children need to eat fast food in order to get the desired toy. In order to increase the desire in children to get the toy, the owners use the characters from the famous cartoons. They put them in the advertising and all over the packaging. All those cartoon characters are recognizable by the kids.

It seems strange, but the increase of the food sales in the fast food industry starts not from the quality of the food, but from other factors. Unfortunately, such strategy brings huge profits for this industry. The next strong tool that attracts children attention to the fast food restaurants is an atmosphere of fun. Sometimes, it is not important for children to eat, but it is very important to have fun and spend time in the interesting atmosphere. There are many fast food establishments and almost each of them has the playground for kids. What could be better for the children, who has a lot of energy, than spend their time with unfamiliar peers at the playground. It is very convenient not only for them, but also for their parents. Adults, who like to eat in the regular restaurants, know that it is very difficult to have a pleasant meal when your children are playing around.  So, their choice is to come to fast food restaurant where they can leave their children on the playground. It is resulting that children have to eat fast food. Moreover, the places where children eat fast food tend to organize the celebration of the special occasions. It could be the birthday or the other important occasion in the children’s life. The celebration is accompanied by the performance of the cartoon character or a clown. All these special features proposed by the fast food industry is playing the positive effect and increase the children’s activity and mood. However, it is always will be accompanied with the consumption of the “junk food”.

Children do not have other choice as love the fast food. There were created all necessary conditions for this.  The wide spread of the fast food establishments make children and their parents to choose this style of food. You can be in any location of the city and it will be almost always not far away from fast food restaurants. The fast food is everywhere. It is located in the center and in any corner of the city, near the school or university, stadium or cinema, park or any other zone of recreation. The culture of fast food became the part of society life that is closer to the children that any other type of food.

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The final factor why American kids love to eat “junk food” is its taste. Unfortunately, the fast food does not contain any vitamins, but we have to admit it has a good taste. The whole menu of the fast food restaurants contains various meals that have a delicious taste for parents as well as for children. Hamburgers, burgers, potato chips, soft drinks, ice-cream and other items of the fast food menu attract the children’s attention. However, the taste of the any fast food meal contains harmful ingredients. Fast food is rich in taste than home cooking, because it has toxic ingredients, flavors and chemical preservative. All of them make the meal delicious and toxic at the same time. Unfortunately, children could not resist its taste. The strong taste will attract them more than natural home cooking. The darkest side of the question why children love fast food is its dependence.  The constant consumption of the fast food is leading to the dependence from it. Fast food had fatty and sweet foods. The constant consumption of the fatty and sweet food damages the mechanism of the brain work. Unhealthy fast food, which is usually bought for a quick bite, works as addictive narcotics. To leave this habit for children is very difficult. Harmful fatty and sweet foods may reduce the susceptibility of the brain that is responsible for pleasure. If you eat too much, then you have to eat more and more to achieve the same level of good feeling. If we take any beverage, we will see that it contains caffeine. This substance has the ability to absorb the water from the human body. That is why you want to drink it more and more. That is why children love to drink them.       

Making the conclusion, it is important to say that children love the fast food in the United States of America, because they do not have other choice. They find out about the “junk food” from their parents who consume this food. The fast food industry makes a lot of efforts in order to attract the attention of children to their food establishments. The marketing measures like advertisings, toys, cartoon characters, quick accessibility, playgrounds and different celebration parties make the great influence on the children’s eating habits. Finally, the fast food has strong toxic taste that makes the children to love it.

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