Fast Food Drive-Thru: A Product of the Car Culture

By | September 24, 2018

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Drivers wait in the drive-thru line at an In-N-Out Burger restaurant in Alhambra, California. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

In the years following World War II, the automobile became more affordable. Most American families owned at least one. With car ownership came the rise in car culture … the freedom of mobility that enticed many people to go on road trips and experience the wonders of travel. The nation’s new highway system made it even easier to hit the open road. Of course, traveling makes one hungry, but families wanted a quick bite to eat so they could jump back on the road and get to their destination quicker. Enter the fast food restaurant…with their limited menus and assembly-line approach to meal preparation. Fast food was fast…but sometimes, it wasn’t fast enough. The fast-food drive-thru was created to get hot food into the customer's hands faster and more conveniently, without the need to even get out of the car. Drive-thru's changed the American lifestyle. 

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The First Drive-Thru was on Route 66

Route 66, America’s highway, became an iconic symbol of the new-found mobility of the American people. Route 66, also called the Will Rogers Highway, starts in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles. In between, the highway ran through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and finally, California, ending right by the Santa Monica Pier. The road was made even more popular by the 1946 Nat King Cole song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” and by the hit television series, “Route 66”, which aired from 1960 to 1964. Of course, while getting your kicks on Route 66, you may get hungry and want something to eat…