We’ve all been there. It’s late, you’re starving, and you have no desire to cook. Fast food it is. Sad to think fast food could arguably be the best and worst invention of the 20th century.
Regardless of whether you’re anti-corporate restauranteurs or known by name at the drive-thru, we’ve got eight weird facts for you to check out.
1. White Castle Was The First Fast Food Restaurant Ever
While McDonald’s gets lauded for popularizing fast food, it was White Castle that started the trend.
Founded in 1921 by Walt Anderson and Billy Ingram in Wichita, KS, White Castle attempted to change how the public viewed hamburgers. At the time, people were still reeling from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and thought hamburger meat was rotten and came from slaughterhouse scraps.
With that in mind, they built the restaurants with an emphasis on openness and cleanliness so that people could see the food getting prepared.
Besides their sweet sliders, White Castle also crafted the infrastructure of warehouses, bakeries and meat processing plants that supports fast food to this day.
2. Colonel Sanders Hated Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Food
Colonel Harlan David Sanders had a lot of jobs before he began selling his fried chicken over the counter at a gas station. As we now know, it was successful enough for him to open a restaurant.
After franchising more than 600 locations he sold off the company in 1964, but would remain a goodwill ambassador until his death.
At some point, KFC changed the “secret recipe” for their chicken and gravy, leading an angry Sanders, who already gained a reputation for outbursts, to refer to the food as “the worst fried chicken I’ve ever seen.” He even went as far as referring to the potatoes and gravy as “sludge” and “wallpaper paste.”
3. Pizza Hut Has Delivered Pizza To Space
In 2001, Pizza Hut paid the Russian Space Agency $1 million dollars to deliver pizza to the cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS), as a promotional stunt.
To do so a few changes had to be made, including replacing pepperoni with salami (pepperoni doesn’t have a long enough shelf life), as well as adding more salt and spices because extended time in space deadens the taste buds. (Maybe that’s why the food always appears so awful?)
4. Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar Was Banned From McDonald’s At Age 4
No, she wasn’t banned over a raucous ball pit incident. In 1981, before she was slaying big bads as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the actress starred in a television ad for Burger King that directly called out its competitor, McDonald’s, by name – the first of its kind.
In the ad, an adorable Gellar is looking to camera and calling out McDonald’s for using 20% less meat in their burgers than Burger King. McDonald’s sued, and ultimately settled, but it never allowed her in one of their establishments again.
If we’re being honest, SMG was the real winner here.
5. Burger King Helped Robert Downey Jr. Beat Drugs
Long before he was Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. said that Burger King was crucial in his struggle to overcome drug addiction.
Throughout his early career, RDJ had numerous run-ins with the law over drug-related charges, as well as multiple stints in rehab.
In 2003, he ordered a burger from Burger King and said, “It was such a disgusting burger I ordered. I had that, and this big soda, and I thought something really bad was going to happen.” It sent him to toss all of his drugs into the ocean.
We’re not sure what was on that burger, but we’re glad to have RDJ alive and well.
6. McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets Come In Four Shapes
By now you should be well aware that Chicken McNuggets are not real parts of chicken (if not, we’ll give you a moment to let that sink in).
In a study published by The American Journal of Medicine in 2013, they discovered that a McNugget is maybe 50% meat with the rest made up of fat, blood vessels, connective tissue, and bone. Yum.
This mishmash may help explain why they’re shaped as they are. Chicken nuggets from the golden arches come in four different shapes: the bone, the boot, the ball and the bell. None of which are natural.
We’re not sure why they’re required to come in particular unnatural shapes, and we’re not sure we want to know. Now pass the sweet n’ sour sauce.
7. Pizza Hut Has A Kale Fetish
We’re sure you consider Pizza Hut purveyors of all things natural, nutritious and healthy. That explains why until 2013, Pizza Hut was the largest purchaser of kale.
Yep, the bitter leafy green, associated with all things local, organic and dare we say, hipster, was a favorite of the 'Hut.
Don’t get too excited, kale lovers. Before you run to your local Hut for a kale-topped pie, we should probably let you know that they only used the kale as decoration for their salad bar.
__8. Chipotle Was Created As A Means To An End __
You might be surprised to learn that Chipotle founder Steve Ells is a graduate of one of the most prestigious culinary schools in the country, The Culinary Institute of America.
After 28-year-old Ells had graduated, his dream was to open a fine-dining restaurant. He didn’t have the start-up capital, so in 1993 he began a small burrito company in Denver, Colorado, to raise the revenue he needed to fulfill his dream.
Within one month of opening his first store, he was selling more than 1000 burritos a day. And, well, you know the rest.