Fast Food and Alcohol

The news that fast-food chains are selling alcohol sent me scurrying to the Internet to gauge the reaction among the public and pundits. After all, “demon rum” could be polluting the American haute cuisine realm and worse, is Ronald McDonald going to turn into a boozer? Will people fear that a McBeer will replace a shake? Do you typically pair your Whopper with a nice lager or with a zinfandel?

According to USA Today (and reprinted by Mark Brown’s newsletter), Burger King and Sonic will join Pizza Hut and Starbuck’s in offering alcoholic beverages along with fast food. Clearly, the move into alcohol is designed to compete with casual dining chains and to increase the cash register ring.

So, my Internet journey revealed mainly neutral to favorable reactions plus some interesting insights.

A number of blog postings (Chowhound, for example) referenced the differences between American and European attitudes toward alcohol, such as:

“There is a simple cultural difference between the US and the far more relaxed attitude many Europeans have towards beer. We seem to think that we need to regulate alcohol wherever we can, Europeans seem to think that adults are generally capable of making the right decision without the state telling them what to do.”

The gourmets also waded (or is it weighted) in:

“I would very much like a glass of Sangiovese with a Baracoa plate at Chipotle, or a Gewurtz with some good Tacos Al Pastor.”

I found this interesting item about Louisiana:

“…Not only drive-thru daiquiris, but doughnut shops with liquor licenses, too. Video poker is legal in Louisiana, but to get a gaming license, the operator has to have a liquor license (logically, if you check IDs for alcohol, you’ll check them for video poker). So damn near every corner cafe, sandwich shop, po’boy joint, doughnut and coffee place, serves alcohol and has video poker.”

Finally, the doom and gloom, anti-alcohol folks had their say: “Fast food plus fast alcohol equals fast drunks.” That’s obviously from someone who has never experienced the therapeutic benefit of a burger and fries at the end of the night or the day after.

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  1. This reminds me of the movie Pulp Fiction where Vincent and Jules discuss the little differences with Europe.

    Vincent: “Well, in Amsterdam, you can buy beer in a movie theatre. And I don’t mean in a paper cup either. They give you a glass of beer, like in a bar. In Paris, you can buy beer at MacDonald’s.”

  2. In Australia, we have only started opening fast-food restaurants that also serve alcohol. The most prominent being burrito bars and taco ‘joints’, that are serving mexican beers with your taco. In Australia (where alcohol plays a role in our day-to-day lives more so than in America), the trend is becoming popular only in small scale and newly opened small business outlets, and not in our major food chains like mcdonalds and pizza hut. I believe that if the major companies come on board, it will lead to an unprecedented amount ofliscenced venue’s popping up all over the country, amking the anti-alcohol campaigners even more enraged and off-side with us. Keep it to the local eateries and establishments, and there will be no issues i believe.

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