Drive Thru Americans: Fat and Broke

August 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Fools of Finance

For some reason this summer I have been paying attention to breakfast traffic at fast food restaurants as I drive to work. What I observe is sad and pathetic.

I’m not going to bore you with a lot of facts and figures. We all read and know that Americans in general are a bunch of lard-asses. We also know that fast food restaurants are major suppliers of foods that I call “fat bombs.” I’ve consumed plenty of fat bombs my lifetime, although rarely over the past few years.

So I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that during my breakfast hour commute, the lines of cars at the fast food drive thru usually wind all the way around the restaurant and back into the street.

The folks in these lines won’t even get out of the car to purchase their fat bombs. It has to be laziness.  It sure can’t be the pleasures of interacting with the drive-thru mystery voice.

I’m speculating that a high percentage of the folks waiting in line for their breakfast fat-fix are regulars. That cost is not insignificant. I tried but failed to find statistics on the average breakfast purchase at U.S. fast food restaurants. So let’s assume that the average overweight consumer is shoving $3.50 worth of fast food down his/her pie hole at each breakfast run. Let’s further assume that the fast food breakfast addict is hitting the drive thru 20 days each month. Do the math yourself.

These are also the people that will drain a disproportionate share of resources from our health care system. Obesity = diabetes and a host of other preventable maladies.

Oh, and I’m not letting you Starbucks regulars off the hook either. You get credit for actually walking into the store but that’s it.

When the government looks for ways to increase tax revenues, they should station a “fat tax” collection booth in each drive-thru line.

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14 Responses to “Drive Thru Americans: Fat and Broke”
  1. Money Beagle says:

    I often see the same type of lines. However, I know many people like McDonald’s coffee and will often make a trip through just for the coffee. The temptation is there, I’m sure, to add a little bit extra, which is where it becomes dangerous territory.

  2. philip says:

    Really, just $3.50? Not sure how much but sure seems low. Easily get 600-700 calories from breakfast like that too.

    Do starbucks near you not have drive through? I thought all the stand-alone ones now had that.

  3. Greg says:

    Philip is correct regarding the Starbucks; a 25ish coworker just moved to a different part of town and is bummed because her commute no longer has the option of a drive thru Starbucks. I guess she’ll have to get out of her new BMW and walk a bit to enjoy paying a $5 premium for something our office provides for free… Go figure.

    I live in the south and it appears that we’re more prone to obesity than the rest of the country. So keeping up the drive thru routine will be a trifecta – Fat, Broke & Lazy

  4. Jack Clark says:

    The one Starbucks nearest me is newer and when it opened the store would open at 5.

    They have done such great business that now to accomadate traffic on the way to the near by airport it now opens at 4 and most mornings there is a line at the drive through by 3:45 waiting for it to open.

    TML, I think that you should copyright the term “fatbomb” before someone else does.

  5. MasterPo says:

    I don’t think starbucks coffee is all that great anyway.

    McDonalds is surprisingly good.

    So is 7-Eleven.

    Dunkin Donuts gets honorable mention.

  6. Ryan says:

    Are we forgetting about innovation? I’d put pancake syrup injection and logo embossing technology right up there with Velcro.

  7. Grace says:

    I don’t know how you saw me–I thought I ducked down just as you drove by!!

    But there’s a fair amount of elitism in your post even though you did take shots at Starbucks toward the end.

    McDonald’s has surprisingly good cofee (though Po is right about Dunkin’ Do-nuts–it’s just that my state no longer has that shop). But cool people still don’t go there–better to get one’s calories at a “sophisticated” coffee shop.

    I take my coffee from home most days to save money, but that’s not to say you won’t occasionally see my minivan scooting through McDonald’s drive-thru.

  8. Rick Beagle says:

    I am on the fence on this one TML. Not that I disagree with any of your comments, but rather, I think you let the companies that shovel this crap off a bit too easily. I absolutely believe in personal responsibility, but since corporations are now people (/snark) shouldn’t they share equally in the health disaster that is their drive-thru?

    Let me put this another way, if I go to a restaurant and get food poisoning that leads to my death, my survivors could sue the company. Using that straw man, the only difference in your scenario and mine is the time frame it takes for the restaurant to kill these people.

    There was a great movie a few years ago called “Super Size Me”. If you haven’t seen it, it is certainly worth a watch or two.

    As for taxing these businesses to offset the health care costs that they are (in part) directly responsible for? Sure, why not…. But with that said, we can’t convince people to tax into extinction business practices that are killing off the planet, and its people. What chance do you think we have at getting a fat and stupid tax passed? Heck, I heard a doctor (who’s research was funded by McDonald’s) say that obesity is a sham (natural evolutionary trait of the human species) intended to make that evil liberal/socialist/fascist Gal Ore rich, and kill off jobs. This message will play repeatedly on the Ox network so it can be gobbled up by the very same people sitting in their cars waiting for their breakfasts (bobbing their heads with rightful indignation at yet another attempt to destroy America the Great).

    Rick Beagle

    • MasterPo says:

      (Footnote: Ricky has never met a tax he didn’t like.)

      • Rick Beagle says:

        You are just angry because I made fun of your little global warming stupidity.

        It’s okay, your rethug friends on the hill just submitted another tax break for the wealthy today that is projected to triple the deficit by 2015. Way to go “fiscal conservatives”!!!!! oh wait….

        But it will create jobs! Just like the other Bush tax cut! oh wait….

        Nothing like a little repeat failure to stir up the stupid masses.

        Rick Beagle

        PS the tea baggers really ought to be deathly afraid of a “stupid” tax. every time a stupid redneck spouts off, another dime gets removed from the national debt. Palin alone could probably settle the debt if she had that kind of cash….

  9. MasterPo says:

    If these foods are *really* such a health issue then BAN THEM!

    Gosh! I just can’t stand it when people talk about how awful this or that is for health (especially in terms of “protecting the children”), yet it’s still legal just so you can tax it.

    The gov constantly bans stuff left and right with far less injuries and/or deaths associated with it.

    It just goes to show the hypocracy – Bad enough to tax, not bad enough to ban.

    • Rick Beagle says:

      TML suggested the tax, I just made fun of it. I realize literacy isnt your strong suit, but honestly, try to keep up. btw, you should send a dime to the treasury…. call it a self imposed “stupid tax”.

  10. MasterPo says:

    You may have said it in jest but others of your Kool-Aid ilk mean it for real.

    If it’s so awful don’t be a louse and just ban the stuff!

  11. cindy says:

    I have to agree with Grace… ” there’s a fair amount of elitism in your post even though you did take shots at Starbucks toward the end.”

    I get 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch and when I buy coffee or a meal it needs to be fast.
    I would far rather be sipping my home brewed tea at my kitchen table in a civilized manner. That however is unlikely living in North America in 2010 when one is part of the rat race.
    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all piss off for a leisurley 2 hour lunch and have a nap afterwards.

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