Prior to the rise of the fast food chain restaurant, people generally had a choice between greasy spoon diners where the quality of the food was often questionable and service lacking, or high-end restaurants that were expensive and impractical for families with children. The modern, stream-lined convenience of the fast food restaurant provided a new alternative and appealed to Americans’ instinct for ideas and products associated with progress, technology, and innovation. Fast food restaurants rapidly became the eatery “everyone could agree on”, with many featuring child-size menu combos, play areas, and whimsical branding campaigns, like the iconic Ronald McDonald, designed to appeal to younger customers. Parents could have a few minutes of peace while children played or amused themselves with the toys included in their Happy Meal. There is a long history of fast food advertising campaigns, many of which are directed at children.
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