We're coming up to one my favorite holidays. May 28 is National Hamburger Day, which is always a cause for celebration.
At least in my world.
Americans consume approximately 50 billion hamburgers each year and the average U.S. citizen eats about three burgers per week, with most of those likely being of the fast-food variety.
Admittedly, that three-burger-per-week figure is probably on the light side for me because:
A. I love hamburgers.
B. I love fast food.
I know, I know. I should eat more salads and other green things, but for the better part of my almost-67 years my heart rate has increased and my overall excitement level climbs when I begin the journey through a fast-food drive-thru.
I consider myself sort of a fast-food connoisseur, and have done ample studies on the offerings of most fast-food chains. I know what I like, and there is little experimenting. I have my fast-food preferences down to a fine art. Whatever fast-food chain I approach I usually know what my selection(s) will be before entering parking lot.
Which brings me to the actual point of today's column. Over the years, I have stockpiled quite a bit of information about the fast-food industry, some of which I find incredibly fascinating. Here are some of my favorite tidbits:
º The first printed reference to hamburgers is believed to have appeared in the Los Angeles Times in 1894.
º The largest cheeseburger ever made weighed 2,014 pounds. It also included 60 pounds of bacon, 50 pounds of lettuce, 50 pounds of sliced onions, 40 pounds of pickles and 40 pounds of cheese. The sandwich was 10 feet in diameter and took four hours to cook the patty. A crane was used to flip the behemoth burger. A Minnesota casino made and cooked the burger as a 2012 publicity stunt.
º McDonald's is the largest purchaser of beef, pork and potatoes and the second largest buyer of chicken in the world. Its annual orders for french fries equal 7.5% of America's entire potato crop.
º When McDonald's opened an outlet in Kuwait shortly after the end of the Gulf War, the line of cars waiting to eat there was seven miles long. º Roughly speaking, one out of eight American workers has -- at some time or another -- been employed by McDonald's. And 96 percent of Americans have visited McDonald's at least once. Actually, I'm surprised that 96 percent figure is not higher.
º In 1965, a college student named Fred De Luca and family friend Peter Buck started Subway in Bridgeport, Conn. Their first restaurant was called Pete's Super Submarines. Fifty-five years later, Subway restaurants can be found in 87 countries.
º Americans consume about 70 million "tater tots" each year. The original tater tot was created to utilize potato shreds left over from french-fry production.
º Coca-Cola and PepsiCo products are sold in every country in the world, except North Korea. (In my world, soft drinks fall under the "fast food" heading.)
º Television has greatly expanded the ability of advertisers to reach children and try to develop brand loyalty early in life. Today the average American child sees more than 10,000 food advertisements each year on television.
(Some of the information for today's column was gathered from the "Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food," "The McDonaldization of Society 5" and "Burger Trivia: 33 Interesting Facts About Your Favorite Guilty Pleasure.")