10 20th-Century Staples We Never Thought Would Die


Fast-food Restaurants

A McDonald's neon sign shines brightly on Las Vegas Boulevard. Fast-food patronage has been dropping in the past decade. Richard T. Nowitz/Getty Images
A McDonald's neon sign shines brightly on Las Vegas Boulevard. Fast-food patronage has been dropping in the past decade. Richard T. Nowitz/Getty Images

McDonald's golden arches may be tarnishing. The iconic hamburger joint and its fellow fast-food restaurants are struggling as more consumers opt for fast-casual and full-service restaurants when dining out. A July 2014 snapshot survey, for example, showed a drop in fast-food restaurant patronage by Millennials, Gen. Xers and Baby Boomers (20 percent, 11 percent and 18 percent, respectively), and a corresponding rise by these groups in fast-casual restaurant visitation (42 percent, 11 percent, 20 percent, respectively) [sources: Rossolillo, Statista].

Part of the reason for the declining popularity of Whoppers and Big Macs lies in America's current trend toward healthier eating, especially among Millennials. In addition, Millennials are eating out more often than older folks, increasing the weight of their choices, which also include the willingness to dine in full-service restaurants.

Before fast-food restaurants are shuttered, though, they may shove all of their employees out the door. More fast food and fast-casual restaurants are adding self-service kiosks for customers to place their orders. Benefits include orders that are filled more accurately, and the ability to save dining preferences and track rewards points. Panera Bread, Wendy's and McDonald's are all part of this trend, which isn't likely to go away as many Americans continue to push for a higher minimum wage [source: Johnson].

Author's Note: 10 20th-Century Staples We Never Thought Would Die

It's certainly not surprising that staples of life change over time. My great-grandparents likely never thought transportation by horse-and-buggy would disappear, or that outhouses would be moved indoors. But it's a little sad to think of a paper- map-less world, at least if you're a map geek like me. Or the death of cinemas. Even the disappearance of Gideon Bibles makes me a little sad. I never read one, but for some reason I always checked the nightstand to make sure one was there. The one thing I'd love to see gone, though, is smoking.

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