The USA is home to some of the most infamous fast food chains in the world. In most cities, you can hardly walk a block before you come across a McDonald’s, Domino’s, Taco Bell, or Chick-fil-A.
Given that many Americans frequent these restaurants, it’s no wonder they are increasing in number by the day. From burgers to chicken sandwiches to fried chicken, there’s a fast food restaurant to satisfy almost any craving. Below, we’re analyzing some data collected to determine the most popular fast food by state. Let’s get started!
According to data from Google Trends, Domino’s is the most-searched-for fast food chain online. The pizza chain has gained immense popularity since it was established in 1960.
However, McDonald’s maintains the record for highest fast food gross sales — not a surprise, considering their massive expenditure on advertising. As such, it is considered #1 of all the most popular fast food restaurants. In 2020 alone, this famous restaurant generated sales of $19.21 billion, while Domino’s stood at a distant $4.12 billion.
Subway — offering some of the healthiest fast food options — comes in at number two in popularity, with $10.8 billion in gross sales. Behind Subway are Burger King and Taco Bell. Burger King maintains $10.0 billion in gross sales, while Taco Bell had $9.8 billion in gross sales.
It is already evident from these staggering sales numbers that the US has its fair share of popular fast food restaurants, not to mention that Americans tend to hold very strong opinions about which fast food is their favorite.
However, we used Google Trends to determine which food chain is the most searched for online. This helps establish which is really most popular, irrespective of gross sales.
The winner of the popular fast food restaurant contest is Domino’s. This doesn’t come as a surprise because Domino’s is the biggest pizza chain globally in terms of revenue and the second largest in terms of stores opened. It was also among the first to start on pizza delivery, and they have since tried to maintain their iconic “30 minutes or less” delivery promise.
McDonald’s is the second most popular fast food restaurant. For almost 80 years now, McDonald’s has been at the center stage of the fast food business. Such a long-standing history gives the company some leverage in terms of sales, but Domino’s still surpasses it in terms of search volume.
Taco Bell then comes in third place. Considering Taco Bell was founded about 20 years after McDonald’s, and around two years after Domino’s, we can say it’s doing pretty well as the “new kid on the block.”
There are at least 5,600 Taco Bell restaurants in the United States. Surprisingly, 964 of these Taco Bell establishments operate within California’s borders, making California the most Taco Bell populated state countrywide. Texas follows quite closely with a total of 590 Taco Bell restaurants. Taco Bell is also the most-searched-for chain in the Great Lake area.
Interestingly, Taco Bell still maintains a higher revenue than Domino’s, making Taco Bell the fifth highest-grossing chain in America.
When you move to the southeast part of the country, it is evident that Chick-fil-A is the region’s most preferred fast food restaurant. Known largely for its chicken sandwich specialty, Chick-fil-A is another chain that is among the most popular in the United States. Chick-fil-A has shown immense growth since it was founded in 1946.
There are at least 2,769 Chick-fil-A locations in the United States, less than half the number of Taco Bell restaurants.
The state with the most Chick-fil-A locations in the US is Texas. Texas alone accounts for 16% of all Chick-fil-A locations in America, which is about 455 chains. Florida then accounts for about 228 Chick-fil-A restaurants. This means that there’s a Chick-fil-A location for every 94,201 people, as Florida has a population of 21.48 million.
Pretty much all of these four top-ranking restaurant chains — Domino’s, McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Chick-fil-A — have found a home in the country’s most populated states, California, Texas, Florida, and New York. They truly have a massive foothold in the food industry in America.
When it comes to Domino’s, a majority of searches come from Florida and Texas. This is expected, given that the state with the most number of Domino’s Pizza restaurants in the US is Texas. There are 689 stores, a total of 10% of all Domino’s Pizza stores in the USA.
McDonald’s, on the other hand, receives its highest search volume from California and New York. In California, there are 1,221 McDonald’s stores representing 9% of all McDonald’s stores in America.
Although Taco Bell is far behind second place in terms of search volume, Taco Bell chains still manage impressive gross sales numbers.
Central and southern states have far more fast food restaurants than states on the East or West coasts in the US. This makes sense, given that many of these restaurants started in the south.
The state of Alabama is certainly the one with the heaviest consumption of fast food. Alabama has 6.3 fast food restaurants for every 10,000 residents. Nebraska and West Virginia then follow with 5.4 and 5.3 restaurants per 10,000 people, respectively.
Fast food restaurants have long been a staple — and an obsession — of American history, and their popularity persists today. Domino’s and McDonald’s are among the country’s most-searched-for fast food chains, and they also have some of the highest grossing sales in the country. Just behind them are Taco Bell and Chick-fil-A. The infographic above includes a breakdown of the most popular fast food by state, including these two fast food titans.