Fast food is generally seen as an all-American concept. Americans love it because it’s cheap, tastes (sorta) decent, and also has a low price point that’s affordable throughout every single socioeconomic strata. Better still, the flavors and recipes in fast food chains are standardized, so no “surprises” ever really happen.
The concept itself is something that’s tied to American culture in a massive way, but the truth is that some states are a lot more heavily linked to fast food than others. One of the biggest hotspots of fast food history is California, and if you’re fascinated by this industry, you need to stop by this state. Here’s why…
Some of the most famous fast food chains in history started here.
The sheer list of major names that got their start in Cali makes this state a must-see if you’re a fast food historian with a penchant for exploring the fare in its original state. Seriously. A massive percentage of famous chains got their start thanks to that California love.
Taco Bell started in San Bernadino, and still has the original location open to the public. McDonald’s actually started close by to the OG Taco Bell, too. They’re located in San Bernadino too, though they turned the original location into a museum dedicated to the chain’s history.
If you’re a fan of Panda Express, you can visit the original location, still tucked away at the Glendale Galleria Mall in nearby Glendale. Jamba Juice, known for their epically unhealthy smoothies, got their start in San Luis Obispo. Of course, these aren’t the only names to start off in Cali, either.
In-n-Out is also a major California name.
Chef Gordon Ramsay famously said that he’d always go to an In-n-Out, regardless of the time of day. It’s his favorite chain, and he’s not alone in that respect. This regional chain is one of the most popular in the nation and gained a cult following few other venues ever attained.
Sadly, this chain isn’t really available in most parts of the United States. If you want to give this burger a shot, you need to go to a branch on the West Coast.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles is the international fast food capital of the world.
Surprising? Well, considering how many chains started in SoCal, maybe not. Along with having a serious number of major American chains in town, Los Angeles also acts as the most popular city for international chain restaurants that want to establish a first flagship store stateside.
Fast food fans might have already guessed that, considering that Philippines-based Jollibee is a popular place to eat there. If that didn’t tip people off, maybe Mexico-based El Pollo Loco’s existence would help.
The funny thing is that new chains are still being made in Cali today. Many of the newer ones are actually based on international cuisine, too. In that sense, Los Angeles is definitely doing a double-duty favor to fast food.
The bottom line here is fairly obvious. If you love fast food history, you have to hit up Cali.