In interview, Tyler Cowen (USCF 2350 apparently, as I catch up on weeks of Marginal Revolution!) addresses our bad food (a topic that's long puzzled me):
The first was Prohibition. Mr. Cowen said fine restaurants earned a disproportionate share of profits from selling drinks. When America made it illegal to sell drinks, most of the top restaurants closed.
[...] A third reason that food became so bad was not due to government, but to family structure. "There seems to be no country in the world where children are more spoiled than in America," he said. In America, children are treated more leniently, and more than elsewhere are given what they want. "This means, when it comes time for the family to go out to eat, whose food tastes are often catered to?" Children often prefer greasy, soft, bland, sweet food. "Have you ever heard a 10-year-old complain that the sauce was not sufficiently complex?" he asked. "You have families going to places like McDonald's simply because the kids want them."