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Fast Food Chains Don't Want to Be Called 'Fast Food' Anymore

Chains like Arby's and Dairy Queen are trying to change customers' perceptions.

Mike Mozart/Flickr

What's in a name? For fast food chains, apparently a lot — and some of them are desperately trying to move away from the term "fast food" and its greasy connotations, the Associated Press reports.

As big fast food players lose valuable market share to fancier chains serving higher-quality food, they're seeking to retool their images by ditching the "fast food" descriptor — following in the footsteps of wildly successful chain Shake Shack, which last year coined the term "fine casual" to describe its higher-quality burgers. But most of the new labels seem pretty unlikely to catch on with customers: Arby's has labeled itself "fast crafted," Del Taco went with the industry jargon-ish "QSR-plus" (QSR, or quick service restaurant, is the term typically used for fast food in trade publications), and Dairy Queen's recently introduced slogan is "Fan food not fast food."

Fast food restaurants are also doing their damnedest to introduce products that at least seem more high-quality by bastardizing terms like "artisan," even as drive-thru windows and heat lamps continue to reign supreme: Last year McDonald's introduced so-called "artisan" chicken sandwiches (much to the chagrin of celebrity chef Scott Conant) and Arby's also used the word for a line of grilled sandwiches. McDonald's is also trying to step up its game by introducing customizable "Chef Crafted" burgers in flavors like maple bacon dijon and buffalo bacon, but they're still made with the same subpar quality beef as always.