The Decline Of The Fast Food Industry (?)
Am I the only one who's witnessed a steady decline in the quality of carry-out food and service in recent years, or are there others who've also noticed this? I'm curious to know whether this has just been my own unfortunate experience or if this decline has been occurring in other parts of the world as well.
There was a time when I used to gorge on fast-food. That was more than 20 years ago. Since then I've been taking better care of my health, making sure I eat healthily. That said, this is not to say I've gone cold turkey as to this day the fast-food junkie in me still desires his occasional fix. Some people crave sweets, others are into the munchies. For me, I can't seem to go too long before the urge to ingest a greasy hamburger & fries overwhelms me and I give in to what some consider culinary sin.
The problem for me has been finding a quality-made take-out meal of any kind, be it burger, pizza, chicken dinner, or sub. It used to be that a poorly made take-out meal was the rare exception, now it's practically become a regular occurrence, to the point that I've been trying to make some sense of it.
A small part of me feels that this is all a conspiracy on the part of the fast-food industry to keep me thin and healthy, as due to all the poor experiences I've had, I've really cut down on take-out these past few years.
If it's not been sandwiches slapped together and served flat as a pancake, its fizz-less soft drink beverages either watered down or too syrupy.
I used to like lettuce on my subs and burgers, but I don't order it anymore. There's been just too many times where the lettuce has been shredded, wilted and brownish in color, as opposed to fresh, crisp leafy iceberg slices.
There's one well-known fried chicken restaurant I haven't dined at in years. This chain started to go downhill, in my opinion, the minute they got rid of their green-colored Cole slaw. Now the salad is less flavorful and like all the others. Their chicken used to have a unique flavor too; now it's bland-tasting, as if it's missing one or two special spices. One of my favorite sandwiches used to be their chicken burger, until they went and ruined it with extra coating where now all you taste is salty, crunchy skin batter. (Disgusting.) The problem, however, hasn't all been with senseless changes the company's decision-makers have made. I can't find a single store location in this area that can make a decent fried chicken meal the way I used to experience it for many years prior to these stores being franchised out to owners who might as well be managing a gas station.
Back in the day, you'd often find employees who took pride and care in the food they were hired to make and serve. The food wasn't viewed as just a product to them but was made with obvious love and attention. Obviously, anyone, regardless of working age, has or should have the ability to do this, but one thing I've observed is the increase in appearing shiftless teens who now work at these fast-food restaurants, compared to back in the day when poor experiences were seldom. I can't help but think that this has been one of the factors that has led to the decline in the quality of fast-food in these parts.
I've driven up to many a drive-thru window only to get the impression based on the person handing me my order that they would rather be any other place but there. It's often made me wonder whether there was even a screening process involved in the hiring of some of these unenthusiastic and apparently absent-minded employees.
I can only imagine what the interview process must sound like at some of these fast-food restaurants. Manager: Do you have any experience in meal preparation? Job Applicant: Not really. My mom does all the cooking at home. If I'm hungry and she's not around and can't be summoned by cell phone I simply pop something in the microwave. M: Uh-huh. I see. You take initiative. I like that. Here we require of our kitchen staff a basic knowledge of the art of sandwich making. Think you can handle that? JA: Can't see why not. I've made a sandwich once before. You first undo the cellophane, right? (Manager jots down the following note: Smart, too.) M: I know this next question may seem irrelevant, but it's one I've got to ask: Know what 2 plus 2 equals? (Job Applicant removes smartphone from pocket and begins typing.) M: Without googling it, I mean. JA: I was never that good in math. But I know how to tell 2 tomatoes from 2 onions. No problem. M: Good, good. I admire one who's observant. Moving on. Tell me, do you know what a condiment is? JA: Sure. My girlfriend makes certain I use one all the time. Why, would I have to wear one on the job? M: No, nothing like that. Employees are required to wear a hairnet, however. One last question: Why do you want to work here? JA: 'Cause there's this real cool skateboard I'm lookin' to buy. I figure I'll only have to work here a few days till I earn enough money for it. M: Congratulations. You're hired!
Okay, I'm being a little facetious but you get the point.
From take-out burgers that have tasted of cigarettes, to stale sub buns, to pizzas where there's more doughy crust than sauce and toppings, to fried chicken where even the so-called 'original' has skin twice as thick as the meat itself, to cold & hard fries that look and taste a day old, to soda drinks tasting flat, to sometimes not even receiving a hello and eye contact at the drive-thru window, suffice to say I've had more than my share of fast-food of late, and am looking as trim and fit as ever.