Addendum on Fast Food and Race

Upon further reflection, I decided a discussion of the changing attitudes toward American Fast Food restaurants is incomplete without race.

Japan, as I’m sure you already know, is an extremely homogenous country. According to Wikipedia, Japan is 98.5% Japanese, with 0.5% Korean, 0.4% Chinese, and 0.6% other. I don’ t know if “other” includes the Ainu, or if they’re just numbered within the Japanese, (most of them are at least part Japanese anyway,) but even if we take the high estimate of Ainu population, they’re < 0.2% of the total. So, yes, Japan is very Japanese.

By contrast, America has a large, ethnically distinct underclass of blacks and Hispanics: 65% white, 5% Asian, 13% of black and 17% Hispanic.

By contrast, back in the 50s when McDonald’s began, America was 88% white, 10% black, and 2% Hispanic.

As a result, Japan’s underclass is still Japanese, while America’s underclass is ethnically and racially distinct from its upper classes. Japan is more homogenous, with a narrower wealth gap between its richest and poorest citizens and a much lower crime rate.

If SJWs have taught me anything, it’s that white people are always racist. Japan doesn’t have this problem, not only because it lacks white people, but also because it lacks different races for anyone to be racist against.

Just look at this family, all dressed up and having a fun time

Googling “vintage McDonalds ads” may not be the most scientific way to study historic advertizing campaigns, but we’ll do it anyway. Or here, have an article on the subject.

Around the mid-70s, McDonald’s (and Burger King and probably various other Fast Food brands) began explicitly targeting up-and-coming black customers with ads featuring happy black families, working class men getting breakfast before heading off to the construction site, black couples, etc. Interestingly, the ads aimed at white people tend to contain only one or two people, often with a closer focus on the food. (There are, of course, plenty of ads that only feature food.)

Now, far be I to disagree with the advertising decisions of the world’s most successful fast food chain–selling massive quantities of cheap food to black people has been a great strategy for McDonald’s.

But this has caused a shift in the racial composition of McDonald’s target demographic, affecting how it is perceived by the wider society.

Similarly, the demographics of people who work in fast food have changed radically since the 1950s. Most of my older (white) relatives worked at fast food restaurants in highschool or their early twenties. (Heck, I was just talking with an upper-middle-class white relative who used PICK STRAWBERRIES in the strawberry fields for money back in highschool, a job which we are now reassured that “white people won’t do.”) Unskilled jobs for young people used to be a thing in our society. It was a fine way for young people to start their lives as productive members of society, gain a bit of work experience, and save up money for college, a car, home, etc.

Today, these jobs are dominated by our massive, newly arrived population of Mexican immigrants, driving down wages and making it harder for anyone who isn’t fluent in Spanish (necessary to communicate with the other employees,) to get hired. Meanwhile, the average age of fast food employees appears to have increased, with people stuck in these jobs into middle age.

All of this has contributed, I’d wager, to America’s changing attitude toward fast food, and its poor/middle class people (of all races) in general.


Seriously, where would you even put more people?
Shibuya Station, Japan

You know, Americans talk a lot about how Japan needs more immigrants–generally citing the declining Japanese birthrates as an excuse. (Because what Japan really needs is higher population density + racial tension.) But despite its near total lack of racial diversity, Japan is one of the world’s most successful, technologically advanced countries. If anything, low Japanese fertility is actually fixing one of Japan’s biggest problems–density (which has long-term problems with Japan needing more food and natural resources to support its population than the archipelago can physically produce).

They actually hire people to shove passengers into the trains to make them fit.
Rush hour on the Tokyo Subway

Only an idiot could take the Tokyo subway at rush hour and think, “What this country needs is more people!” I therefore recommend that the Japanese ignore us Americans and do keep their society the way they like it.

7 thoughts on “Addendum on Fast Food and Race

  1. If a country had simply done the opposite of what the American “Chattering Classes” urged ever since about 1965, it would be far, far ahead. Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and a few other countries have pretty much done this, although they bought into more of it than they should. Compared to those countries that took Elite American advice and believed Elite American promises (like say South Vietnam, South Africa, Rhodesia, Mexico, and a lot of others) They are doing pretty well.


    • Or… America?

      True, we seem to have an inborn resistance, but it has only delayed the disease, not conquered it.


  2. I suspect there is another connection between multiethnic societies and “fast food”; every ethnic group has its own traditional diet (whether this is a matter of hard-coded food preferences or inherited food culture), and every traditional diet embraces a range from “weird” foods that most outsiders would reject to “crowd-pleaser” foods that most outsiders would like. When you quickly force multiple ethnicities to live together, they stop eating the sophisticated foods from their respective menus and focus on the lowest common denominators, grease+carbs.


    • On the flip side, many of the foods we associate with ethnic restaurants are, I suspect, quite fancy and wouldn’t traditionally have been eaten very often. Take tamales, which were traditionally eaten on holidays/feast days and are complicated/time-consuming to make (at least according to Wikipedia,) but I can get at Mexican restaurants and frozen at the grocery store. So some foods and flavors get lost, while others become much more common, but it’s not necessarily the simplest that become more common.

      Even “french fries” started as “potatoes prepared in the French manner”–that is, fancy. It’s much easier to just bake/boil a potato than to chop it up, season it, and double-fry it.

      I’ve noticed lately that it’s easier to find fine examples of cuisines from across the globe–Thai, Japanese, Indian, French, etc–than regional American cuisines like Louisiana gumbo or New Mexican anything, even though New Mexican is one of the world’s best cuisines. There are way more Americans here than foreigners, but the restaurant industry is hard and I guess the economics just work out better for Thai than Gumbo.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s