Fast Food

Henry Ford had the famous insight that if you assign each factory worker one task, you can dramatically increase production capacity.

Today, in most industrial systems across every market, this is the norm.

Richard and Maurice McDonald brought this idea to the food industry in 1940, and pretty soon, every major city in America had a McDonalds serving perfectly identical hamburgers and fries.

Fast forward over half a century, and we've now seen that an incredibly efficient system like this has some drawbacks. For one, when meals are created on an assembly line, they start to lose the personal touch that makes food so socially important.

Sweetgreen, a fast casual chain which serves salads and other bowls of fresh food, offers a partial antitode to this: In contrast to Chipotle, for example, only one employee assembles the entirety of each customer's meal in front of them.

It's a subtle change. But it adds just a little bit of humanity back to the industrialized process when someone can say, "Here, I made this for you."

Hat tip to Emily Heyward for the Sweetgreen example, from her book Obsessed: Building a Brand People Love from Day One.


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