The alluring tactics of fast food chains

People waiting in local In-N-Out drive through (photo by: Ava Sinacori)

By: Makena Viera | Writer

You’re driving down the freeway after a long day, stomach rumbling, all you can think of is getting home as fast as possible. Suddenly, something bright catches your eye.

You catch yourself wiping drool off your face after catching a whiff of the nearest fast food restaurant.  All other thoughts are cast aside while imagining that juicy burger and savory fries in your stomach.

Ultimately giving in, you’re satisfied by prices, but mainly the convenience of not having to get out of the car in your pajamas. After wolfing it down in record-breaking time, you’re back on the road, happier than ever.

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. According to the Fiscal Times, McDonald’s alone feeds 68 million people per day and sells 75 hamburgers every second.

Luckily for you, it’s not just a lack of self control that leads to the never-ending craving for fast food. In fact, chains all over the world use clever tricks and manipulation to appeal to the senses and subconsciously draw customers in.

The first technique is through color psychology. Not only are big, bright billboards attractive, but it’s no coincidence that every fast food restaurant has the same colors in their signs: red and yellow. The color red triggers stimulation, love, and hunger, while yellow is typically associated with happiness and comfort.

Local McDonalds utilizing the colors red and yellow (By: Ava Sinacori)

Another factor is that irresistible smell. Whether passing Wetzel’s Pretzels in the mall or smelling McDonald’s fries from San Clemente High School, a little whiff is all you need. Some chains cleverly place the oven or kitchen near the front of the restaurant so customers can catch a strong aroma. Others go far enough to use scent machines that waft out artificial, but equally appealing scents (such as Subway).

“When I smell it I can’t resist it,” junior Luke Houston said. “I like fast food because I get exactly what I want when I want it.”

Convenience is another subtle but very effective strategy. It’s no coincidence that every time you get off the freeway there’s a McDonald’s or Carl’s Junior waiting. Additionally, the drive-through factor is efficient and life-changing.

 “I like fast food because I’m lazy and can just drive through without getting out of the car,” junior Jessica Carrera said.

So the next time you’re getting off the I-5 and catch a whiff of the nearest fast-food chain, be aware of the appealing tactics used to lure customers in. Those colors and smells may be tempting, but as your mom says, “There are leftovers at home!”

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