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If you’ve ever had a sudden need for food, but can’t get a proper meal, you probably thought of going to a fast food restaurant because it’s quick, convenient and cheap. This would be a great solution if it wasn’t for the dozens of secrets hidden behind those famous golden arches and other symbols of fast food. Chew On This, by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson, exposes the unwelcome secrets that fast food restaurants have sealed behind all of their advertisements, toys, characters and jingles. If you enjoy fast food and would like to keep living within these illusions these restaurants have cast upon you, you may. But if you wish to escape and learn the secrets behind the meals that you have happily consumed, be ready to witness the truth, but be willing to accept the consequences because these restaurants might never look the same to you.

Think back to the first time you saw or heard of fast food. You probably don’t remember, because fast food restaurants intentionally target young children to become loyal customers so they become lifetime customers. One of the most surprising facts I learned is that “Americans now spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, and recorded music - combined.” Large companies know that children have a great deal of influence on their parents’ spending, so they know that targeting children while they are young is crucial to earning more money. You may have seen some of these tricks, such as advertisements, toys, play areas and characters. You could have been one of those kids who has begged to eat a happy meal, to collect another toy and to play in McDonald land. If this is the case, then you’re not alone. In fact, according to the authors, “One out of every three toys given to a child in the United States each year is from a fast-food restaurant.” These toys aren’t there just for fun, they’re there to attract more kids and keep them coming back for more. Fast food companies specifically work with leading toy industries to create toys that are aimed at young children. These toys such as small dolls, toy cars, and Teletubby toys are aimed at young children, sometimes even those who are too young to speak.

There’s a lot of information in this book about marketing, but this book is called Chew On This, so you can expect to learn more about food. No matter how much psychological manipulation these companies use, there is still food to talk about. Your burgers, shakes, sodas and fries may look innocent and appealing on the outside, but they hide a lot of secrets that can often be repulsive. McCannibals? What could they have to do with your McNuggets or your crispy sandwiches? What's in a milkshake? Milk? Strawberries? Bugs? Artificial flavoring? What’s in the beef? What are the lives of the workers who take care of and process the animals? What happens when you eat too much fast food? Even if some of the details seem fictional and horrific, both authors are journalists who specialize in investigative journalism. The secrets exposed in this book might change your view on the world of fast food—it changed mine. The illusions that fast food companies have created may be changed, even if fast food is quick, the tradeoff for fast food has a price. If you want to open your eyes to the truth, then read Chew On This by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson.
Chew on This by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson. Clarion Books, 2007. Buy the book here and help support Stone Soup in the process!

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