It is unhealthy, makes us fat, is loaded with tons of artificial chemicals and has little to no nutritional value yet we still gouge our faces with it as often as we can. The sinful goodness that is fast food has been around for decades and even with the recent vegan craze, is not going away anytime soon.
A multi-billion dollar industry, fast food generates revenues that are bigger than some countries’ economic value. The fast food industry is responsible for the employment of millions of people worldwide. As with every other industry, there are a few names that are almost synonymous with fast food and they have been dominating for years.
Some of these companies and organisations were formed decades ago and are still using more or less the same recipes they started with. Other fast food companies are newcomers into the industry but have made significant strides and are competing fiercely with the others. The fast food chains highlighted below have not only created a large following in their home countries but have managed to have chains spanning the globe. This is a definitive rank, from the largest to the smallest, with the number of international outlets and total revenue being the main parameters. Following are the top 15 best and largest fast food chains in the world in 2019.
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As of December the 27th, the world’s largest fast food chain was Subway. The franchise was formed in 1968 by two young men who then later formed Doctors’ Association, which oversaw the franchise’s operations as it expanded. Subway mostly sells submarine sandwiches and salads, although there has been a recent introduction of baked goods. With more and more people watching their weight and making healthier food choices, Subway introduced healthier sandwiches and cut its usage of salt by 15%. While its menu has more or less the same items globally, Subway has modified its sandwich fillings to suit cultural preferences in certain countries. For example, Subway outlets in India do not serve beef or pork, in accordance with India’s religious beliefs.
The franchise managed to edge out McDonald’s as the top fast food chain as they have more than 44,882 outlets worldwide. It is indeed an astonishing spurt of growth as Micky D had previously dominated the scene. With 26,646 stores across the United States, and an additional 18,236 stores globally, the Subway franchise is well on its way to becoming one of the largest companies in the world. It operates across 112 countries globally and generates revenue of $11.9 billion as of 2015. Aside from the high number of outlets and revenue generated, Subway’s overtaking of McDonald’s is also owed to it being a privately owned franchise. While Micky D is a public company which is even listed on the Stock Market, the aforementioned Doctors’ Association owns and operates the franchise. With an ever-increasing number of outlets, Subway is not slowing down anytime soon.
Following closely on the heels of Subway is McDonald’s. Formed in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant, the fast food chain is easily the most recognizable brand in the fast food industry. The chain’s golden arches logo is unmistakable and evokes the taste of home for most American citizens living abroad. McDonald’s has managed to grow from a brothers-owned restaurant to having a total of 36,899 outlets globally and operating in 19 countries. Micky D, as it is otherwise called, is the second largest employer globally after Wal-Mart as it is responsible for the creation of more than 1.7 million jobs. It also generates annual revenue of $25.423 billion dollars.
While its revenue is greater than Subway’s, the latter is considered larger because of the difference in the number of outlets. McDonald’s is almost synonymous with the word hamburger. In fact, 75 hamburgers are produced by the chain in every second. In 1948, the founders changed it from being a barbecue restaurant to being a hamburger stand. It’s hamburgers, with their squishy buns, sweet ketchup and juicy patties are an experience in itself. In addition, Micky D produces chicken products, breakfasts, French fries desserts and soft drinks. While the McDonald’s hamburger is considered a classic, McDonald’s French fries are regarded as the benchmark against which all French fries are compared.
For lovers of coffee, Starbucks is the only place to go to for their pick-me-up. The coffeehouse chain was founded in the early seventies and now operates 23,768 stores worldwide. It sells coffee-based products which are hot and cold such as instant coffee, caffe latte, espresso, teas, Frappuccino beverages, light snacks etc. Starbucks has cut a niche for itself by popularizing dark roasted coffee. The company generates significant revenue of $25,085 billion dollars annually. The coffeehouse chain is not only known for its coffee but also for its philanthropy. Starbucks donates its left overs to local food bank through a service called Food Connection Service.
4. Kentucky Fried Chicken
The next food chain is Yum! Brands’ Kentucky Fried Chicken. As its name suggests the chain primarily produces fried chicken. However, it has increased its menu to other chicken products, wraps, soft drinks, salads and soft drinks. With more than 75 years of experience, KFC products have been on the market long enough to create a loyal following. A blend of 11 herbs and spices is the company’s secret recipe for its signature taste. Much speculation about the secret blend has led to faux par recipes but none has ever replicated the chain’s chicken. The chain has 20,604 stores and generates revenue of $23 billion annually. KFC is also the second best chicken fast food chain behind Chick-Fil-A.
5. Burger King
Burger king is the next top food chain worldwide. While some may dispute its supremacy over McDonald’s, with 15,000 number of stores worldwide, Burger King is a strong competitor. The food chain sells hamburgers (obviously), French fries, soft drinks, milkshakes and desserts. Burger King’s main product is the Whooper Sandwich – a burger that was created in 1957 to differentiate the chain from other burger chains. The chain plans predict that a huge percentage of its market share would be from its foreign stores. As a result, it plans to open more stores globally, with an emphasis on Asia.
6. Pizza Hut
Everybody loves pizza but no restaurant makes them quite like Pizza Hut. The chain is the sixth largest food chain with $13,728 restaurants globally; attesting to its popularity. The food chain’s pepperoni pizza is a cult favorite and is the most ordered worldwide. Pizza hut was founded in in the state of Kansas and is known primarily for its Italian-American cuisine. It has become the world’s largest pizza chain and has outlets globally. It is also famous for being the first food chain to deliver pizza to space.
7. Dunkin’ Donuts
Dunkin’ Donuts is the home of those who have a sweet tooth – and fat policemen on patrol. The coffeehouse and baked goods chain were founded on and specialize in coffee and donuts. In addition to donuts, the chain offers sandwiches, bagels, cookies, muffins, iced tea, and slush. With its operations being in 36 countries and having 12,000 outlets in total, this food chain is an incredibly fast rising company.
8. Domino’s Pizza
Pizza Hut faces major competition from pizza powerhouse Domino’s Pizza. The fast food chain is steadily rising to overtake its rival if its $1.4 billion dollar revenue is anything to go by. The pizza chain offers a wide variety of pizza, oven-baked sandwiches, pasta, chicken side dishes, pieces of bread and soft drinks. The chain has gained massive approval, with Pizza Hut magazine naming it “Pizza Chain of the Year” multiple times. As of 2006, Domino’s had more than 8,200 stores worldwide.
9. Baskin Robbins
Founded in 1945, Baskin Robbins, is the global frontrunner in ice cream specialty shops. With operations in 50 countries, the chain is a force to be reckoned with in the ice cream industry. It has 2,500 locations in the United States only and 5,000 locations globally. The chain is known for its 31-day flavor slogan which provides the customer with a new flavor choice for each day of the month. However, the chain currently has more than 1,000 flavors.
10. Taco Bell
The Tex-Mex loner on the list, Taco Bell is the only chain that strives to showcase foods from the Wild West and across the border. The chain sells tacos, nachos, burritos, quesadillas, and other items. With over 2 billion customers each year, and over 7,000 stores worldwide, Taco Bell is definitely accomplishing its goal. The chain is also known for its lawsuits and its ridicule of other fast food chains.
With its more than 6,500 outlets worldwide, Wendy’s was as of 2017, the world’s largest food chain, trailing McDonald’s and Burger King. The chain primarily sells square hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, French fries and soft drinks. The chain introduced their signature French fries – which have their skins on russets still on. Wendy’s also has a frozen dessert called Frosty which has massive popularity. Other notable products include the Baconator (a patty topped with cheese and bacon), the Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger and the black bean burger.
Tailing Wendy’s is Hardee’s, a fast food restaurant chain that was is operated by CKE Restaurant Holdings, Inc. in 2015, Nation’s Restaurant News ranked it as the 28th restaurant chain in the United States. As of 2016, Hardee’s had 3,664 stores both in the U.S. and in 37 foreign countries.
13. Orange Julius
Next on the list is Orange Julius, a chain of fruit drink beverage stores. The Orange Julius is made of orange juice, milk, sweetener, ice, egg whites and vanilla flavoring. This chain expanded in the ‘70s to U.K and The Netherlands. It was later bought in 1987 by Dairy Queen which has now included it in its stores.
14. Dairy Queen (DQ)
Dairy Queen (DQ), is a chain of ice cream and fast food restaurants and it is owned by International Diry Queen. The chain offers ice cream and other frozen treats, sandwiches, French fries, hotdogs, and chicken but no hamburgers. Dairy Queen has more than 6,400 stores in more than 27 nations, US included.
15. Little Caesar’s Pizza
Finally, founded in 1959, Little Caesar’s Pizza Treat is rated the third-largest pizza chain, after Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza. It offers a wide variety of pizza, chicken wings, and Crazy Bread. The chain operates franchises in several continents.
These are the top 15 best fast food chains in world today. If you are yearning and craving for those tasty deep fried chicken and the best ice cream on earth head over to one of these joints and enjoy your meal from professionals. Remember not to take too much of these foods since they are unhealthy; that’s an advice from a doctor.