Thursday, December 27, 2007

What fast-food breakfasts tell us about land use law …

[New Suburbia: One of a series about new aspects of the suburban realm.] 

  Critics of the suburbs like to excoriate fast-food joints as the quintessence of soulless, auto-bound, conformist, fattening suburbia.  But it is interesting to relate the fate of McDonald's, the nation's most famous fast-food purveyor, with the attitudes of Americans about where they chose to Fastfood live. (As for me, I haven't partaken of the golden arches since law school, which was a long time ago.)   As McDonald's' popularity flagged in recent decades, some linked it to the oft-predicted but rarely-documented rejection of suburbia by Americans in favor of a more healthy and imaginative lifestyles.  But the recent news is that McDonald's' sales are back up, in large part attributable to soaring breakfast purchases; many more Americans are driving to McDonald's and then eating as they make their long driving commutes. 

  Either this expanding phenomenon is an example of Americans' accepting (embracing?) the lifestyle of ever-longer commutes from exurban homes to their jobs, or, as some critics might suggest, the sad result of land use laws and policies that "force" Americans to live far from their workplaces.  Let the arguments about the lessons of McDonald's breakfasts begin …   

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