Last Updated on August 4, 2023 by Shari Mason
When it comes to everyday meals, it’s fascinating how fast food has become part of daily life. But have you ever wondered what the first fast-food restaurant was and how it started?
In this article, we’ll dig deeper into its roots and origin. You might be surprised that fast food history is as old as a century. Keep on reading to learn more.
What’s The First Ever Fast Food Restaurant?
The first-ever fast-food restaurant created was the White Castle. The chain all started from a partnership of a cook named Walt Anderson with Billy Ingram, a real-estate man.
White Castle started a standard of uniformity within its chain locations and in the fast-food restaurant industry.
It had a distinct castle-look design for its restaurant. But the name White Castle signifies its original mission and values–White for cleanliness and Castle for permanence and strength.
Read: Fast Food Statistics
Why Is It Called Fast Food?
Fast foods are foods that can be cooked and served quickly. It is typically designed to prepare in bulk in advance to accommodate large numbers of customers.
The term ’fast-food’ was recognized in Merriam-Webster around the 1960s.
Also, it is viewed as a specific type of restaurant that serves simple fast-food cuisines, such as hamburgers, French fries, hotdogs, and drinks like cola and coffee.
White Castle is credited as the world’s first fast-food hamburger chain.
When Did The First Fast Food Restaurant Open?
The White Castle burger chain’s first fast-food restaurant opened in March 1921. White Castle’s original chain only started with a capital of $700.
The founders, Walter Anderson and Billy Ingram incorporated the business in 1924 and called it the White Castle System of Eating Houses Corporation.
Where Is It Located?
The first White Castle chain restaurant was located northwest of First and Main in Wichita, Kansas. However, the original White Castle building is no longer standing.
The company branched out its second chain in Eldorado, Kansas, in 1922, while in 1927, the company extended its chain to the Indianapolis White Castle.
Today, White Castle has more than 300 branch locations across 13 states, mainly in the Midwest and New York metropolitan areas.
What Did The First Fast Food Restaurant Offer?
From the beginning, White Castle has been known for offering a cheap burger menu. Its iconic square hamburgers are called ’sliders’ and are served on a bun with grilled onions.
In 1927 they had the carry-out concept, in which you could buy a sack of burgers. After four years, the company started using individual boxes to pack their hamburgers to keep them hot.
“The idea behind fast food is great – people want convenience.”– Kimbal Musk, Restaurateur/Chef
The first White Castle restaurant had an open kitchen so the customers could see their orders being prepared. It builds up the notion that cheap prices could also bring quality products.
Resolving the A&W Dispute
A&W didn’t start as a fast-food chain but as a walk-up root beer stand in Lodi, California, founded by Roy Allen in 1919.
In 1922, Frank Wright, Roy’s employee, became his partner in this venture and created the first A&W Root Beer. But they created their first restaurant in 1923.
The company evolved into franchises in 1926, and the franchise is believed to include the A&W logo and the original root beer syrup from Allen.
However, A&W did not develop a full-service restaurant and focused on seasonal drink stands in small-town markets. But over the years, some franchisees began selling food in their chain.
Who created the first fast-food restaurant?
Walter Anderson and Billy Ingram created a chain for White Castle that became the first fast-food restaurant. It was founded in Wichita, Kansas, in March 1921.
What was the first fast-food restaurant to have a drive-thru?
The In-N-Out burger chain was the first fast-food chain to have a drive-thru service in 1948. It was created by Harry and Esther Snyder that features a two-way speaker system.
That feature is first made in Baldwin Park, California, that allows drivers to pass through and order without leaving their car.
The White Castle is credited as the world’s first fast-food hamburger chain, established in 1921. It was founded by Walt Anderson and Billy Ingram in Wichita, Kansas.
White Castle originally offered square hamburgers for 5 cents per piece. But they evolved their concepts and improved their advertisements to gain markets.
The company made a lot of effort to standardize its production and branched out its second chain just after a year.
Last March 2021, White Castle celebrated its centennial birthday and a century of innovation in the fast food industry.
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