STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And we have some food for thought this morning: Fast food has gotten a bit slower. A newly published drive-thru study shows McDonalds posted its slowest times in the 15 year history of that study.

Here's more from NPR's Wendy Kaufman.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: At McDonalds, typical customers will spend three minutes and nine seconds from the time they place their orders until they get them. That's about 10 seconds more than the industry average - and a lot slower than a decade ago.

Today, there are more choices on the menu and the products themselves are more complex. Flavored Lattes, smoothies and salad bowls, for example. Those things slow down your order.

Speed, of course, is essential to the drive-thru experience. And drive-thrus are hugely important to chains, such as McDonalds and Burger King. Fast food trade publication QSR commissioned the study. The magazine's editor is Sam Oches.

SAM OCHES: Usually the drive-thru accounts for 60 percent or 70 percent of all business that goes through a fast food rest. It's a lot.

KAUFMAN: Consumers also want their orders prepared correctly. And on that score, says Oches...

OCHES: Accuracy is still really high.

KAUFMAN: The American quest for speed and convenience is now prompting some so-called fast casual chains like Panera, to expand their drive-thru offerings.

BOB GOLDIN: It's a defensive thing if nothing else.

KAUFMAN: As Bob Goldin, a food and restaurant industry analyst puts it, you don't want to lose a customer who's in a hurry.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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