Thanks to the ubiquitous drive-through lane, you don’t even need to get out of your car to get burgers, fries, an extra-large diet soda or doughnuts. Now Burger King is making it even easier to avoid all the “effort” it takes to get in your car, drive to a fast-food eatery and stretch your arm out to get your deep-fried carbohydrates: Burger King is piloting home delivery for a $2.00 fee in 16 restaurants, 4 in the Washington, D.C., area.
Customers must order a minimum of $8.00 – $10.00 of food (but not breakfast items or drinks) and live within a 10-minute radius of a restaurant. They can order via phone or online at www.bkdelivers.com and the food will be packed in special thermal bags.
While Pizza Hut, the eighth largest chain by sales, does a substantial percentage of its business via delivery, none of the other seven biggest chains – McDonald’s, Subway, Starbucks, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell or Dunkin’ Donuts — has a national delivery program, the Chicago Tribune points out. McDonalds does offer delivery in New York, but on a very small scale.
Burger King already offers home delivery at its outlets in Mexico, Turkey, Brazil, Columbia and Peru. The decision to offer “Whoppers at your door” in the US is in part because Burger King is “threatened” by Wendy’s, notes the Los Angeles Times, while the likes of Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Smashburger are “siphoning” away its customers.
Of course, there are plenty of places in the US that offer delivery. But in the US, car culture and fast food – precisely packaged and designed so you don’t need utensils or a table to eat it — have long been closely linked. In the 1950s, the drive-in restaurant (with the waitresses on roller skates) was all the rage. Now, some restaurants are drive-through only. About 65 percent of McDonald’s U.S. sales are from the drive-through and, in the US, there are now drive-through banks, pharmacies, department stores and strip clubs. As Tom Vanderbilt observed in a 2009 article in Slate:
The drive-through, on the other hand, is an adjunct of the growing American commute. People are now too time-starved even to leave their cars… (Commuter culture is taking hold around the globe, too: As a Burger King exec told the Wall Street Journal, speaking on the emergence of drive-throughs—ventanillas—in Latin America, “everybody becomes more of a drive-through, hurry-up-and-eat-on-the-run kind of culture.”)
On the other hand, it’s estimated that drivers idling their engines as they wait in line at the drive-through can waste at least $103,000 in fuel in a year. Convenience is bad for the environment and it’s also bad for our health. In a nation where obesity and diabetes are considered epidemics, getting a bag of fat, sodium and calories delivered to your front door is not exactly what the doctor ordered — unless, perhaps, the doctor’s planning on making some house visits, too.
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