Why Pizza Hut’s red roof and McDonald’s playground disappeared


New York (CNN Business) For decades, the roadsides along America’s highways have been dotted with bright, playful and oddly shaped fast food joints.

Drive past the orange-roofed Howard Johnson and past the red-roofed Pizza Hut shack. A few miles further on there was a white castle with turrets by the roadside. Arby’s roof was in the shape of a wagon, and Denny’s roof resembled a boomerang. and McDonald’s, with its neon golden arch towering over the restaurant.

these are quirky design An early form of brand advertising, it was a gimmick to grab the driver’s attention and get them to stop by.

As fast food chains spread across the country after World War II, a new brand of roadside restaurant had to stand out. Television was a new medium that had not yet reached every home, newspapers were still dominant, and social media was unimaginable.

As such, restaurant chains have turned to architecture as a key tool to promote their brands and establish their corporate identities.

Pizza Hut’s red-roofed restaurant has been abandoned, replaced by a sleek new design.

But today’s fast food architecture has lost its quirky charm and distinctive character.Changes in the restaurant industry, advertising and technology have created the look of fast food bland, lethargicsays the critics.

Goodbye bright colors and unusual shapes. Today’s design minimalist and sophisticatedMost fast food restaurants maximize efficiency, will not attract the driver’s attention. Many are shaped like boxes and are decorated with faux wood paneling, imitation stone or brick exteriors, and flat roofs.A critic called this trend A “fake five-star restaurant” intended to make customers forget they are eating greasy fries or burgers.

The chain now looks about the same.call it Gentrification of fast food design.

Said “They’re little boxes with no soul” Glen Coben, an architect who designed boutique hotels, restaurants and shops. “They are like houses in Monopoly.”

Googie architecture

Fast food restaurants developed and expanded in the mid-20th century with the explosion of automobile culture and the development of interstate highways.

“Fast Food: Roadside Restaurants in the Age of Cars. ”

Fast food chain buildings are designed to catch the eye of potential customers as they pass by at high speeds and slow them down.

“The building had to be visually strong and bold,” he said. Alan Hess, architectural critic and historian. “It included neon signs and building shapes.”

A prime example: McDonald’s design. two golden arches style called, sloping over the roof of the restaurant. Googie.

A historic 1950s McDonald’s restaurant in Downey, California in 2015. The oldest McDonald’s in existence.

Originating in California in 1953, McDonald’s design was influenced by the ultra-modern coffee shops and roadside stalls of Southern California, then the epicenter of the up-and-coming fast-food chains.

The two 25-foot bright yellow sheet metal arches that traverse the McDonald’s building were tall enough to attract drivers among the other roadside buildings, whose neon trim shimmered day and night. McDonald’s designs sparked a wave of similar Googie-style architecture at his fast food chains across the country.

By the 1970s, the design was a prominent fixture on American roadsides, “embracing the image of fast-food drive-in architecture in the public consciousness,” Hess wrote in the journal. article.

“Visual pollution”

However, there was a backlash to this aesthetic. Opposition to the prominent Googie style grew as the environmental movement developed in his 1960s.critics called it “Visual pollution”.

“Critics hated this populist, roadside commercial Californian architecture,” Hess said. Googie style went out of fashion in his 1970s, fast food style in favor of dark colors, brick and mansard roofs.

McDonald’s new prototype came in a brick design with a discreet mansard roof and pebble texture. The arch was moved from the top of the building to a signpost and became the McDonald’s corporate logo.

Opposition has grown into flashy structures like this Jack in the Box from 1970.

“McDonald’s and Jack in the Box laid out neon and dayglo banners and building containers against an endless sky,” said The New York Times in 1978. And with the growth of mass communication advertising campaigns, brands no longer rely on architectural features to stand out.

Fast food goes upscale

In the 1980s and 1990s, companies introduced playgrounds and party rooms to attract families. This is in addition to the existing “brown” structure, Hess says.

Since then, the rise of mobile ordering and concerns about costs have changed the design of modern fast food.

With fewer people sitting down for a full meal at fast food restaurants, businesses didn’t need elaborate dining areas. and adding digital kiosks to our stores.

Wendy’s 2020 is an example of the modernization of fast food design.

‘There are a lot of restaurants with red roofs,’ says Pizza Hut executive Said Its classic design in 2018. The company’s new prototype, “Hat Lanes” Helps reduce wait times at drive-thru locations.

New fast food box designs with flat roofs can heat and cool more efficiently than older structures, according to restaurant consultant John Gordon. The kitchen has been reconfigured to speed up meal preparation. It’s also cheaper to build, maintain, and staff a small store.

But in the process of modernization, some say, fast food design has become homogenized and lost its creative purpose.

Addison del Mastro said, “If there were different names on the front, I’m not sure I could identify what they were.” city ​​writer A person who records the history of the commercial landscape. “Nothing stirs a wandering imagination.”

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