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Why does a fast food sandwich taste exactly the same 365 days a year?

I am interested in all the issues of fast food companies creating standardised foods. In society today it has become the norm to walk into any fast food store and pick up a sandwich, this will be exactly the same 365 days of the year, with absolutely no difference in taste and appearance.

This is because companies have large controlled industrial systems ensuring all foods are exactly the same. Slowly humans are being eliminated in the process of cooking foods industrially as human perception can get in the way of ensuring products are of constancy.

I invite you all to discuss, do you think humans be eliminated from the process of cooking and will the consumer always demand complete consistency in foods?

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    Jan 24 2014: Because you don't change. If your tastes change,then they feel different.
  • Jan 26 2014: Standardization allows cheaper production for the restaurant. I used to work at McDonalds way back in the 1980s. Ensure the readout said ready. Put the burgers on the grill and press a button. When you heard a beep, seer. Next deep flip. Next beep, pull off the grill. Standardized ketchup and mustard dispensers ensured a proper amount without having to think about it. You could take a high school kid, give then an hour of training, and they were a cook.

    From the customer point of view, there is a level of comfort in knowing exactly what you are going to get. A fancy restaurant with a team of chefs producing custom meals may produce food you like better.. or maybe that you do not like as well... and is certainly going to cost a lot more.

    From the chef point-of-view, this standardization of food is all bad. However, the non-chefs are not overly concerned with the chefs.

    Custom food has largely become like fashion. It is a way to prove to yourselves and others that you are better than the people that shop Walmart and eat standardized food.
    • Feb 9 2014: I like your view!
      In customer and restaurant
      Boths are described clearly
    • Feb 12 2014: Standardization of output is even more important at a high-end restaurant than for fast-food. The difference is the borders of the standardization. For a fast-food chain, the border is the entire chain. For the high-end restaurant, the border is the single restaurant. However, a lobster thermadore at that restaurant had damned well taste like any other lobster thermadore from that restaurant, or it will lose business due to complaints of "inconsistent quality".
  • Feb 20 2014: I think its all about consistency. People like consistency. If its not broken, why fix it? There's comfort in knowing that someone's favorite burger will always be around and will always taste the same. This is probably why limited time only items don't get stuck on the regular menu. Its something new and different, which to some people is great, but something can only be new or different for so long. After awhile, it is back to being just the norm and then it loses it's specialty. Personally, I am a fan of the dollar spicy chicken sandwiches. They will always be the same and I like knowing that.
  • Feb 13 2014: Fast food is a product, that is not much different from a marketing and sales standpoint from a tire or a stick of deodorant. The fast food companies spend a lot of money on market research to find out just how much crunch people want in their french fries, what salt level is optimal to keep the customers craving the product, and how much filler can be added to the "meat" before the public notices (or loses interest).

    These companies are no more evil (or saintly) than the consumers who keep them in business.

    I think the cultural effects of the popularity of fast food is what strikes such a chord with so many people. Perhaps there is a balance between quick/convenient and healthful/wholesome, and the free market has choked it out in favor of the deep-fryer.
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    Feb 8 2014: well, I guess most customers want to have control over what they will taste when they bite into their meal, I guess by making it always taste the same you guarantee them control.

    But there are restaurants where you go in and you don't order, the chef decides what you will eat, and then he or she makes it for you. I guess they just follow their intuition and experience in deciding what they think you will like.

    That would be kind of fun, to walk into McDonald's, and, when they say may I take your order, lay ten bucks on the counter and say, here's ten bucks, surprise me. Or when the waitress comes up to you at Denny's may I take your order, say baby, you choose.
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    Jan 26 2014: Honestly speaking I haven't tasted even a fast food sandwich yet. The reason is that I don't have interest in fast foods and would neither have any sort of interest in tasting any kind of fast food.
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    Feb 22 2014: if your an awful cook then why not a big mac, fries, & strawberry shake
    non of the worlds greatest chefs combined could ever come up with such a exquisite and consistent product
    personally I have self terminated myself from ever lifting a hand in order to cook when I've got all these major food industries willing to shove such precious foods down my throat and into my welcoming stomach :>)
  • Feb 21 2014: A good ball glove can have a big effect on youth’s enjoyment of playing baseball and even about whether baseball is a worthwhile sport for them to participate in. Kids could be playing many other sports, and in fact, Nike Air Max Womens participation in basketball and soccer is growing fast in the US. There’s no better summer sport or pastime than baseball though. It has a rich American tradition that other sports don’t possess and that’s an important part of your own child’s sports experience.
  • Feb 20 2014: It depends on the stage that humans may be eliminated. I don't think people would want to walk into a fast food joint and buy their meal from a vending machine.
  • Feb 19 2014: If the exact same ingredients are used, you roughly get the same taste every time, however you have also got to remember that fast food chains such as McDs add synthetic flavouring to the food giving it a distinct flavour and smell. It is part of their marketing plan. That's why you always know if someone on the bus is munching on a McDs because you can smell the distinct and perhaps patented flavour. This smell/flavour kind of overpowers the other ingredients, so you always at least think it tastes the same.
  • Feb 19 2014: Fast food always taste the same 365 days a year for the same reason frozen dinners do. Most of what fast food restaurants use is frozen, and pre packaged at one central location. Everything down to the amount of time it is cooked is regulated.
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    Feb 17 2014: There's nothing worse than walking into a restaurant really craving a particular dish. You have an expectation of exactly what to expect and if you don't get that, it's really disapointing!
  • Feb 17 2014: A very interesting topic! I could certainly see fast food industries ultimately eliminating the human cooking element in order to achieve the consistency in foods that a customer expects.
  • Feb 17 2014: On Kauai in the 80's our first McDonald's caused quite a stir in the corporation. As you might know about Kauai there is a variety of people on the island from all over the world who have eaten some unusual meats not really acceptable to most Americans like horse, dog, cat, kangaroo just to mention a few. So when a customer at McDonalds took a bite into a Big Mac and immediately said "this is not beef, this is horse meat" you can imagine the shock and disbelief it stirred up. The gentleman was from the Philippines and had eaten horse meat many times which has a distinct flavor. Before he went any further he called a lawyer who documented the find and bottom line is he will never have to work again. They took the burger meat and had it analyzed and sure enough it contained portions of horse and kangaroo meat mixed in with the beef.
    Well now we got an investigation which found out that McDonalds had been buying large quantities of their meat from an Australian company which had decided they could make more profit by mixing horse and kangaroo meat which was cheaper, in with the beef.
    Of course it was hushed up, this lawyer paid that lawyer who paid off the guy to shut up and it all went away quietly.

    Does that answer your question? I lived on Kauai at the time, the McDonalds was right across the street from Amazing Computers, my computer store. I am curious if anyone else knew about this, like I said it was immediately hushed up so I am wondering how good the "HUSH" had worked. Anybody here know about it, besides me??
  • Feb 17 2014: Consistency is what we as consumers pay for.

    If we consider coffee, think about Starbucks. From one store to another, we can count on the quality of coffee, the 'pour', the temperature of milk, etc. to be consistent across the country and throughout the world.

    If standardization did not exist, the business owner would have to account for waste and human mistakes. Mistakes like cutting tomatoes the wrong size could cause food costs to increase.

    My initial reaction is no - humans cannot be removed from the process but we already have to a certain degree.

    One example is McDonald's - when we pull through the drive through, some stores have the automated arm of pulling the correct cup size, filling to the appropriate level, etc. Automation like this also helps with cost control, inventory, and is also a theft deterrent.

    I think there will be innovation in our future that will automate some food preparation.
  • Feb 15 2014: the fast food is a slow poison which is a very good conclusion.
  • Feb 14 2014: David Kessler wrote a great book that addresses the commercialization of food production and why it tastes and looks the way it does consistently. The book is titled, "The End of Overeating". The book basically states how reaching the right consistency of salt, fat and sugar in your food product will result in the consumer of that food craving more of that food. Restaurants are a business. They never claim to be nutritionists. Their goal is to sell the most amount of their product and keep the consumer coming back for more. Consistency in look and taste keeps sales consistent.
  • Feb 13 2014: It seems that desiring(or at least expecting) consistency would be a very natural instinct. There is consistency in the taste of pretty much every food found in the "wild".
    If you compare oranges to oranges or apples to apples there is an expectation of consistency. When there is an inconsistency that is a sign that something is not right(it is not ripe, it has spoiled, etc.). You may have an adverse reaction or even die. At best you would likely not get the full benefits you would get if you just ate a different piece.
    A "demand" for consistency-not just fast food but all food selected for consumption- may very well be ingrained in our DNA.
  • Feb 13 2014: Standardized foods do not take personal dietary restrictions into account. For example, I cannot eat wheat or dairy (it makes my guts bleed). I know there are a lot of other people out there that have similar restrictions, and there are even more people that have undiagnosed dietary issues.

    In other words, for a certain percentage of the population, "fast food" is actually slow poison, and as awareness of this issue increases, we will increasingly demand something different.
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    Feb 12 2014: 1.You feel good when you have them
    2.It takes time and money to change the taste.
    3.It is quite risky to sell new taste before it is proved delicious.
    4.It is the most convenient and efficient way for restaurant to operate with minimum taste.
  • Feb 12 2014: I believe that fast food has created a reliable source of food for those that don't care to evaluate what they are eating. Speaking for myself, I enjoy fast food, but I don't eat it much. When I do have fast food, I order the same items because I find comfort knowing exactly what I am going experience. I believe people who eat fast food over cooking themselves find comfort in the same result through a different method. The end result is good tasting food. Humans will never be eliminated from the cooking process as long as we cultivate nourishment.
  • Feb 9 2014: Recent years,most of the foods with stardard appearance and the taste are always sold in the fast-food store and restaurant.
    Is it good or bad?

    In my opinions, increaseing the taste and looking are better.
    I am obesity and I am have a healthy lifestyle which eat clean such as fruits.
    The more clean food I ate, the more healthy I got.
    Yes! I always eat food without yummy taste.
    If the food I brought from store have a cute looking, I will be More happy!
  • Feb 4 2014: I suggest, if you have a strong stomach watch the documentary "Food inc."
    • Feb 12 2014: Or just not be a sissy. Watched it. Didn't bother me. Already knew all that stuff.
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    Jan 28 2014: We are turning into a society of programed, non imaginative, non cooking, fast paced , multitasking, bunch, of give it to me now , I said I don't have time to wait PEOPLE ...; so, we like the standardized, same as it was last year sandwich , most of the people that I have encountered in my life , there are exceptions , I think fast food is a thing that some people depend on ( for all the reasons I gave ).

    Being from the country and raised on a farm I learned to eat a multitude of foods, and never as a kid got to eat all that fast food my parents never took us . As an adult I learned to cooked, I enjoyed the art of cooking and became a pretty good at it .
    Im sure this post will aggravate a few people I have found that to be true on some of my posts .
    • Feb 12 2014: The "standardized, same as it was last year sandwich" is NINETY YEARS OLD! Think about that. Just think. Fast food chains go back to NINETEEN TWENTY-ONE! They are NOT NEW! THERE IS NOTHING NEW IN THIS STANDARDIZATION OF FOOD! By 1921, the only thing that White Castle did was make explicit what was already implicit in the industrialization of society that had begun two generations before.

      Stop pretending that this is anything new. It's not.
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        Feb 13 2014: Fast food at one time was a treat it was a special place to go and take someone out too
        now it is just a place to grab something to stuff your face with .lol... not really funny
  • Jan 28 2014: I, as a matter of fact, enjoy home cooking much more than the fast food meals. IMO, the "products" of fast food restaurant are neither the best tasting nor the most economical. But with their research effort, the fast food restaurant does achieve probably the most efficient product in blending together the material and manual labor cost. As to the nutritional/healthy aspect of the fast food, that's a different story. In this respect, the taste and consistency of the food sometimes are in direct conflict with the nutritional or health values of the food. For example, most fried food are preferred by people, but oily food is not generally healthy. However, if you look at the preference of the grocery shoppers, majority of them will prefer fried potato chips than baked ones. And even in fast food places, the french fries are still using lot of oil, albeit the transfat has been reduced. Also, the hamburger meat is still mostly beef rather than turkey or fish (The fish has to be "french-fried" so that doesn't help much either). So as far as the war between the taste and the health, the former still dominates. I recently bought a bag of seasoned turkey burgers from the supermarket, and cooked it by myself, it tasted better than beef, as far as I am concerned.
    So IMO, the fast food "recipe" actually is not the best nor the worst tasting, but they (the restaurants) made the most efficient cost-labor(or time) combination than most of us could manage to do.
    By the way. theoretically we could definitely automate everything for a, say, hamburger restaurant, in making quick production of consistent tasting hamburgers, by taking ingredients from a bunch of cows and raw wheat grains and raw potato, etc. to come up with "fresh-food" service. But it would be inefficient to integrate the slaughter house, grain miller, etc. into the restaurant business, especially for FAST food.
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    Jan 27 2014: The problem is not consistency of taste; it is the consistency of unhealthy taste that is the problem. People can change their taste from process sugar and fat to spicy and lean, I know this from first hand experience.
    If you could get sweet potato fries cook in healthy oil and with spices and sea salt, a spicy ice tea (that has to sugar), a cod sandwich and almond milk, sweet potato tots (with a veggie hidden in them) , chicken strips for your kid, that tasted the same to matter which chain you went to, that would be good.

    Yes we all need to cook, it is fun and healthier. But what if fast food changed to be healthy and cooking at home was only done for the fun, a little healthier and cheaper.

    P.S. fast food chains would be smart to start adding Almond Milk to their menus, with its long shelf-life they likely save money and attract new customers.
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      Jan 27 2014: I completely agree Don, it seems the consumer is aware of health.

      Though seems that large co-porations have cashed in on peoples busy life styles and it is impossible for the high street eater to avoid the convenience they offer, These businesses are driven by money and the need to make profit, the issues with healthy "fresh" foods is that they are more expensive, their way to adapt to people becoming more aware of health issues is to paint a picture in their advertising of green "local" farmers growing healthy produce. Though they are not changing their menus, they are changing the way their food appears.

      It seems people are loosing touch with the food they are eating due to false information. It is necessary to bring the high street eater back to our environment. People are used to having whatever they want whenever they feel, I believe that we need to embrace our environment and turn these high street eaters toward seasonal foods whilst adopting the predictable convenient fast food philosophy,...
    • Jan 28 2014: Hi Don

      On a tangent, but there is a trend to hide ingredients via the "natural flavors" label. I had the rather unpleasant experience of getting sucralose in Almond Milk under the natural disguise. I switched brands real quick!

      Now it is unsweetened and "organic" Almond milk from now on.

      I guess fell into the consistent column on taste (back on topic)
  • Jan 27 2014: It is what the customer wants. People complain and whine when something is "different".
  • Jan 26 2014: Fastfood is always delicious, and you want to eat more and more cause of one of amino acids, called glutamate. Glutamate is typical bioactive organic molecule, which is absolutely safe. And our tongue has a special receptor for this amino acid, like receptors to bitter and salty and so on.

    Even wikipedia tells us:
    China-based Fufeng Group Limited is the largest producer of glutamic acid in the world, with capacity increasing to 300,000 tons at the end of 2006 from 180,000 tons during 2006, putting them at 25%–30% of the Chinese market. Meihua is the second-largest Chinese producer. Together, the top-five producers have roughly 50% share in China. Chinese demand is roughly 1.1 million tons per year, while global demand, including China, is 1.7 million tons per year.

    So, now you know, why does a fast food sandwitch taste so delicious.
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    Jan 26 2014: Sure.... ideally, Mc Donalds would like to have a machine where raw ingredients are put in the front and a perfect hamburger comes out the back. All automated in between. Best way to insure exact quality control and consistency and taste. It would ensure the same eating experience for everyone, every time. Even better, if they get raw materials exactly the same, it would be a perfect situation... Mc Donald and for those who prefer the constancy of their hamburgers.

    Other people may prefer a wide variance of flavor and textures from a wide variety of ingredients, seasonings and cooking techniques. They might prefer a number of people and techniques in the production stream of their hamburgers and there are such establishments that provide unique burgers for the more discriminate fast foodies.

    So, there is something for everyone.
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    Jan 25 2014: How can you be sure the taste remains exactly the same? All you have to go on is the memory of the last meal's taste which is an unreliable method of standardization.
    I think they taste similar but with minor variations, which is normal...even for home cooked food.
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    Jan 25 2014: becaused we are being hyptonised by the corporates through their adds.

    another point, maybe the size never change, we need to look at the size and quantity, i think same size sandwich, must have proportionate ingredient.

    the procedure of preparation, ingredients, can also be the reason.
  • Jan 24 2014: I don't appreciate so much eating fast food every day, but I have to admit I enjoy it once in a blue moon. Due to that, I look for the same taste. In terms of quality, everybody knows how terrible the food is for our body, but that's another story. I am of the belief that you may like fast food without getting used to the complete consistency of food, consequently you are able to love slow food at the same time. Trust me, I adore eating and the equilibrium is always the answer : it's a matter of common sense
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    Jan 24 2014: I have no issue with restaurant-chains using the same spice blend; it would be boring if you would eat it every day, really there is no reason to eat the same thing or even at the same place every day.
    I do have issue with fast food chains all using russet potato for their fries, did we learn nothing from a the Irish potato famine. Give me some sweet-potato fries or slow growing flavorful Scandinavian potatoes with dill.

    I do believe more and more people are learning the joy of cooking, eating what is fresh and gardening. Look at the number of cooking shows, and (boosted by this down economy) urban gardens, vertical gardens and others are no longer just for the odd supper green hippie.

    I know I’m not the norm, I rarely eat fast food (1 or 2 times a month) and have customize my diet per my health needs and taste; lessen sugar and gluten, increase fish and spices plus other things.
    And even thou I’m not the norm I’m not as far outside the norm as I was just a few years ago, in fact it is getting easier and easier to find healthy foods.
    For example a few years ago only health food stores had almond milk and it was costly, and now a lot of stores carry a brand of two of it. And it cheaper then it was, not as low as I would like but it is affordable.
  • Jan 24 2014: Maybe consistency brings comfort. Plus the economy of a” value menu”, it is impossible to replicate the cost of a 1 dollar hamburger at the grocery store.

    Factor in convenience and you have a fast food nation.

    Personally I feel this is damaging to society and culture. How to repair the damage?

    I recently saw a young child eagerly awaiting his mango lasse and squealing with delight when saag paneer was placed in front of him!!

    For that treat I thank his parents for introducing him, at an early age, to other foods and cultures.

    Then I thanked my parents for the same.