The two most popular fast-food restaurants in the country are Chick-fil-a and McDonald’s, but the numbers behind these trends are somewhat deceiving. Most people in most states prefer to eat at Chick-fil-a than any other restaurant. However, the number of Chick-fil-a restaurants is sometimes disproportionately low to other classics, especially McDonald’s. Moreover, if you consider just the number of restaurants a chain has across the country, McDonald’s wins, hands down.
To get past the quandary of Chick-fil-a versus McDonald’s, some researchers put together a map to show the second-favorite fast-food place per state. The results separated the country into distinct regions that, in some cases, very much resemble the geographic/cultural areas that have long been accepted.
The American Southeast, stretching across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, prefers Chick-fil-A. If you skip over Virginia and go up to Maryland, Maryland also prefers Chick-fil-a. Florida stands out as preferring Burger King, but Florida also has noticeable cultural differences against the states mentioned above.
The region commonly known as the Southwest, and extended somewhat east of the Mississippi River (the Mississippi River is often considered the border between the South and the Southwest), prefers Sonic. These states include New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
New England, for the most part, prefers Wendy’s. The states in a belt that prefer Wendy’s include West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. There is a somewhat contiguous stretch of states that prefer Subway, and these states all have brutally cold winters. They include New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, Idaho, Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota. Also included in this subset is Washington, DC, though not technically a state.
Taco Bell lovers are pretty dispersed, as are those who love Burger King. Taco Bell is the second-favorite restaurant in Oregon, Alaska, Arizona, Missouri, Delaware, and Indiana. Burger King is well-loved in Florida, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine. In South Dakota, the second-favorite is Arby’s, and in Nevada, the second-favorite is Panda Express. In California and Hawaii, it’s Jack-in-the-Box.
What do the second-favorite fast-food restaurants per state tell us? They tell us that people’s preferences, outside of McDonald’s, are pretty consistent across cultural regions. However, there are discrepancies and some reorganization of where those regions are and what their boundaries are.
There are other ways of deciding the most popular fast-food restaurants by state. What is your favorite?