The most popular fast food brands in America
Hamburgers, chicken, snacks, pizzas, sandwiches, donuts, smoothies. What’s not to like?
That’s why the global fast food market size is $860 billion, with more than a third of that being enjoyed in the United States where the fast food market is $300 billion per year… and growing.
It is estimated that 36%, or 84 million, American adults consume some kind of fast food every day, joined by a similar percentage of American children (persons under 18 years of age), or 26 million.
Most popular fast food brands in the United States
And who serves most of these fast food meals? The always-entertaining Visual Capitalist provided the facts –
This graphic uses data from a report on America’s top 50 fast food chains by Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) Magazine. The popular brands are sized by their 2021 systemwide sales and broken down into six broad categories: Burger, Chicken, Snack, Pizza, Sandwich, and Global.
Note: a number of these figures are estimates. Unofficial figures are noted in the graphic with an asterisk.
It’s indisputable that McDonald’s is America’s favorite fast food restaurant, if not the world’s. McDonald’s sales are almost double the second the place restaurant’s, Starbucks – totaling $46 billion compared to the coffee shop’s $24 billion.
Most of the top 20 restaurants are extremely well known, like Chick-fil-A in third place and Taco Bell in fourth. Some of these chains, however, will be unrecognizable depending on which part of the U.S. you live in. While Bojangles is ubiquitous in the Southeast, for example, many on the West Coast may have never heard of it.
Some of the lower ranking restaurants include Shake Shack (#45), White Castle (#50), and the Canadian-founded Tim Hortons (#47).
Up-and-coming fast food companies
The mentioned report also featured 50 up-and-coming fast food companies to watch in the industry.
|#1||Smoothie King||$602 million||Snack|
|#2||Habit Burger||$600 million||Burger|
|#3||Auntie Anne’s||$576 million||Snack|
|#4||Captain D’s||$567 million||Seafood|
|#5||Steak ‘N’ Shake||$539 million||Burger|
|#11||Pizza Ranch||$279 million||Pizza|
|#12||Scooter’s Coffee||$263 million||Snack|
|#13||Penn Station||$258 million||Sandwich|
|#14||Chicken Salad Chick||$255 million||Chicken|
|#15||Mountain Mike’s||$254 million||Pizza|
See the complete list at Visual Capitalist.
For the largest fast food brands worldwide, see the Wikipedia list. (Spoiler: yes, with more than 40,000 outlets, McDonald’s also tops the list internationally.)
Most favorite fast food
Using the ranking’s food categories, they calculated the total sales in each category from the top 50 to figure out which foods are America’s favorites. The winner is evidently burgers, with $92.2 billion in collective sales.
Sales at Burger restaurants were more than double the runner-up, which was Snacks. After all, nothing is more American than a classic hamburger and fries.
In fact, the mighty burger tops the menu in almost all western countries.
With around 200,000 fast food outlets – or quick service restaurants – in the United States and each fast-foodie munching away over $1,200 per year on said fast food it is easy to see why those big market numbers perfectly match the obesity prevalence of 42% in adults and 31% in children.
Eat healthy. Think healthy.