The Wackiest Drive-Thrus In America

Like motels and Twinkies, the drive-through window is a distinctly American invention. Sure, other countries have embraced the simple pleasure of ordering a meal without so much as unbuckling your seatbelt, but it was America’s mid-20th-century convenience-obsessed car culture that gave birth to this now global phenomenon.

The drive-through’s origins are in dispute. Some say it was California’s beloved In-and-Out Burger in 1948 that first allowed customers to order from the comfort of their front seat. But the Iowa-based restaurant chain Maid-Rite also claims to have opened the very first drive-through window, in Springfield, Ill. And though the mighty McDonald’s wouldn’t dare pretend to have invented it, they say their drive-through window has more nobler origins: “The first McDonald’s drive-thru was created in 1975 near an Arizona military base — to serve soldiers who weren’t permitted to get out of their cars while wearing fatigues.”

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