Today in Australia you can find a fast food on almost every street corner, from small family operated Chinese takeaways and pizza shops, through to massive multinational chains. It might be hard to imagine not having a big fast food joint down the road from you, but these advertisements in the 1982-83 Gregory’s Melbourne Street Directory, 14th edition show how few locations they once had.
Kentucky Fried Chicken was the first big chain to come to Australia, opening their first restaurant at Guildford in Sydney’s western suburbs in 1968. Now with over 600 KFC’s across Australia, the company adopted the KFC moniker in 1992 when they dropped the unhealthy sounding ‘fried’ bit from their name. Meanwhile back in 1982, Kentucky Fried Chicken they had a total of 35 restaurants scattered around Melbourne, and 3 more in Geelong.
McDonald’s took a bit longer to come to Australia, opening their first restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Yagoona in 1971, and over the next four decades the chain has grown to over 780 locations.
If we go back to 1982 we see Melbourne only had 33 McDonald’s restaurants – I’m not talking about the ones in the CBD – that is 33 in the entire metropolitan area! There was only a single McDonald’s in the CBD: located at 33 Swanston Street, the site now appears to be a KFC, with the current McDonald’s being a few shops south towards Flinders Street.
With the explosive growth in the number of fast food chains since the 1980s, is it any wonder that Australia overtook the USA as the world’s fattest nation in 2008?