Drive-Thrus: Trending Down?
Do you recall the first time you heard of a drive-thru restaurant? Did you think it would catch on? Slate has the history and an update:
It's not clear who built the first drive-through restaurant (although In-N-Out trumpets that it used the first speaker system in 1948). But the drive-through's central place in mainstream culture is actually rather new: McDonald's didn't open its first drive-through window until 1975, in Sierra Vista, Ariz., home to a nearby Army base. (One bit of lore alleges the drive-through was created so soldiers could order food without being seen in their fatigues.) Now, however, drive-throughs account for some 65 percent of McDonald's U.S. sales—a stunning demonstration of the radical shift in traffic culture, and increase in driving, since the early 1970s. The window has become so crucial that McDonald's actually demolished an outpost that was slated for renovation in San Luis Obispo, Calif., after the city upheld its ban on drive-throughs. (A company spokesman said, "We can't build a million-dollar McDonald's and not have a drive thru. We just can't do it.")