Otters Oddities

Fast food is my favorite food!

That's not really true. I will admit that I like fast food, but the best food is the food I cook at home for myself. It usually doesn't take long, it tastes good,and is usually cheaper.

But I will submit to a frozen pizza on occasion.

When we think of fast food, most people will picture their favorite burger joint, be it McDonalds, Burger King, Five Guys, Sonic, In and Out, Wendys, or whatever floats your boat. (White Castle has the best fast food burgers. There will be no discussion on this. It's just a fact.)

Most people don't consider the origins of fast food while waiting in their car at the drive through. All they care about is how the person in front of them just dropped their $.14 change on the ground, AND NOW THEY'RE OPENING THE DOOR TO PICK IT UP! AND HOLY MOTHER OF DOG, NOW THEY'RE REACHING FOR THE PENNY THAT ROLLED UNDER THE CAR!

*ahem* Sorry. Where was I?

A lot of people know the basic history of fast food. They know White Castle was the first fast food chain, and they opened in 1921. Well, sorry to say, the people who think that are wrong. White Castle was the first fast food chain to promote it's self by being clean.

A&W, which was first opened in 1919, was the first modern fast food chain. You'll notice I said 'chain'. That's because people have been selling convenient, pre cooked and ready to go foods for a long time.

Take Europe in the middle ages. London and Paris were full of people selling things like meat pies and flans out of carts. This was not just a convenience for people, though. A lot of people couldn't cook. Also, they didn't really have any way of storing food at home. If it weren't for the street vendors, they wouldn't eat.

But if we go back even further, to the days of the Roman Empire, you'll find the same thing. People selling ready to eat foods from carts. For the Romans, again, this was a necessity. For a citizen who lived in Rome, chances are they lived in a insulae, a multi story apartment building. And, most of them didn't come with a kitchen. Kitchens were something only the rich city dwellers had, because they could afford to pay for the room.

That takes fast food back 2,000 years. That's a lot longer than most people think when they consider fast food.

But don't stop reading yet! What would you say if I could take fast food back another thousand years? Would that make the post more interesting? How about two thousand years? Excited about fast food yet? Well friends, hang on to your hats because, I'm taking you back another....not one....not two...but THREE THOUSAND YEARS!

There is an ancient city in Iran called Godin Tepe. The city was first settled by the Sumerians about 4,500 BCE, and for a long time, it was a small agricultural settlement. Around 3,200 BCE, the Silk Road became a major trade route between Mesopotamia and China. And Godin Tepe was located right along the road.

As the road became more travelled, the small houses were razed, and larger buildings were erected. One of them featured two windows. These weren't regular windows, though. They were windows through which food and weapons were sold.

You could go to the first window and get your goat, dates and flat breads to satiate your appetite, and maybe to take on the road with you. Then you could step up to the second window and refill your pouch with more sling bullets. Or get a new dagger.

It seems unusual to us that weapons would be sold that way, but we're talking about a time in history where every stranger was also a potential enemy. It wasn't uncommon for groups heading in opposite directions to brandish their weapons to let the other group know they were prepared to defend themselves. Earthenware containers holding over 1,700 sling bullets were found next to the weapons window.

Some experts speculate that the windows distributed the food and weapons to soldiers, but there's little evidence to support an occupying force at Godin Tepe. It was more of a way side rest during the hey-days of the Silk Road.

So now we can take fast food back five thousand years. It undoubtedly goes back even further. But the line between preparing food for sale/trade with others, and regular preserving of food for the migrating population is blurry.

So, next time your waiting for your quarter-pound-triple-grease-bacon-ranch-double-patty-fifteen-cheese-chicken-pork-bbq-fried-baked glop burger, think back about all the people who stood in line for their civilizations version of your heart attack on a bun.