National Fast Food Day

National Fast Food Day is an unofficial holiday observed annually on November 16th. The purpose of this holiday is to celebrate quintessential American cuisine: the fast food restaurant. On this day, millions of people across the U.S. will be going through their favorite drive-thru or stopping by their favorite fast food restaurant to pick up a burger, burrito, chicken nuggets, or some other tasty treat.

In the United States alone, there are over three hundred thousand fast food restaurants just waiting to serve your favorite dish—all wrapped in paper or a cardboard box and discreetly placed in a paper bag.

The History of National Fast Food Day

After searching long and hard, we were unable to determine when National Fast Food Day was first celebrated. The only thing we know is that this holiday has not been celebrated for too long and is a relatively new holiday.

The History of Fast Food

The first fast-food restaurant to open up in the United States was White Castle. This company was founded by Walter Anderson and Billy Ingram in Wichita, Kansas, in 1921. This restaurant was considered to be ahead of its time for several different reasons.

One, they sold hamburgers for a nickel each. Two, this restaurant allowed customers to see how their food was being prepared, and three, the food was served quickly and efficiently. These three factors made the company very successful, and several competitors tried to copy their model.

1921 was an important year for fast food because this was also the year that the drive-in was invented. However, it wasn’t invented by White Castle. It was instead invented by the Pig Stand in Dallas, Texas. And it was started, according to the owners, because “people with cars are lazy and they don’t want to get out of them.”

The next big innovation to hit the fast food industry was the introduction of the assembly line. While cars had been using assembly lines for years before the invention of the fast food industry, it wasn’t until the McDonald brothers revamped their San Bernardino, California, drive-in in 1948 that the assembly line met the fast-food hamburger.

And McDonald’s was good at running at top efficiency. At one point in time, they could churn out a hamburger, an order of fries, and a shake in under 20 seconds. Now, that’s fast.

While McDonald’s concentrated on maximum efficiency, Burger King came up with a different approach when they opened in 1953. Keith J. Kramer and Matthew Burns opened the restaurant in Miami, Florida, that year and they decided to cater to picky eaters. So they came up with the “Have it your way” way of operating the business. They are still operating this way to this very day.

Over the years, a variety of different fast food restaurants opened up in the U.S. Some of the more popular ones today include McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, White Castle, Pizza Hut, KFC, Chick-fil-A, Sonic, Domino’s, Jack in the Box, Arby’s, Hardee’s, Church’s, and Steak ‘n Shake.

Quick Fast Food Facts

  • In 1970, Americans spent approximately $6 billion on fast food.
  • In 2017, Americans spent over $208 billion on fast food.
  • In 2021, it’s estimated that Americans will spend over $225 billion a year.
  • 90% of American children will visit a McDonald’s restaurant in any given month.
  • 5% of America’s potato crop goes to make McDonald’s french fries.
  • McDonald’s is Brazil’s largest employer.
  • There are over 300,000 fast-food restaurants in the U.S. alone.

Celebrating National Fast Food Day

The easiest way to celebrate National Fast Food Day is to go to your favorite fast food restaurant and grab yourself a meal. In the U.S., you have a variety of different foods to choose from, including burgers, fries, pizza, tater tots, burritos, tacos, chicken, and just about anything else you can think of. So grab your favorite meal and enjoy it.

If you want to let everyone know that you’re celebrating this holiday, then use the hashtag #NationalFastFoodDay on social media and be sure to include pictures of the meal you picked up.

When is it?
This year (2024)
November 16 Saturday
Next year (2025)
November 16 Sunday
Last year (2023)
November 16 Thursday
Food & Drinks