11 Best & Most Popular Fast Food Chains in The World 2019

With people and working couple having less time to cook regular meals for the day, fast food chains are coming to their rescue with food delivered at the doorsteps within a few minutes of ordering.

Fast food restaurant chains are becoming an indispensable necessity as they serve standardised meal options at affordable price. Despite the fact that fast foods are considered inferior in terms of nutrition, the consumption is showing trends of steady growth around the world and across all income groups.

Fast food featured for the first time in Merriam-Webster dictionary in 1951 and was defined as “food that can be prepared and served quickly”. The origin of fast food can be traced to fish and chip shops in England in the 1860’s. These outlets became very popular during the early 20th century.

This concept spread to USA after the World War, and fast food became popular in the 1950’s in USA with “drive-through” restaurants for motorist where food can be ordered and picked up. Later the franchise model was developed where the basic food items were shipped from a central location. These restaurants were also known as Quick Service Restaurants (QSR).

Apart from the convenience, fast food restaurants gained acceptance due to the consistency of quality in the foods being served. The process of preparation is standardised and there is consistency in the appearance, taste and quality of the food items. This is unlike other restaurants where the food quality varies everyday depending on the chefs on duty or the available quality of raw items. Moreover, normal dine-in restaurants take time to prepare and serve food, and are very expensive as compared to fast foods.

These QSRs are spread across the world and are expanding continuously. These are trusted worldwide for their consistent quality, affordable price and impeccable hygiene standards. Here is a list of Top 11 best and most famous fast food chains in the world in 2019.

11. Papa John’s

Best Fast Food Chains 2019

Papa John’s started out quite late, in 1983, but made rapid strides in popularity and sales. It opened its first outlet in Jeffersonville, Indiana; when the founder, “Papa” John Schnatter started it from a broom closet in his father’s tavern, Mick’s Lounge. He had bought used pizza equipments to make pizzas and began selling them to his father’s customers. One year later he opened another outlet and never looked back. Headquartered at Jeffersontown, Kentucky; Papa John’s is now the third largest pizza delivery restaurant chain in the world with more than 4,700 outlets in 37 countries.

Its slogan is “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza” had a very wide appeal in boosting its sales. Papa John’s primarily takes carry-away and delivery orders, although some outlets provide dining-in facility too. Franchise stores owners pay a royalty fee 5% and promotional fee of 7% of net sales. Papa John’s was the first pizza chain to offer online ordering in 2002. It is reported that in 2017 the company is testing a “Papa Priority” scheme that lets customer jump the queue by paying $2.99 extra.

10. Dairy Queen

Best Fast Food Chains

The first Dairy Queen store was opened in 1940 in Joliet, Illinois; by the founder Sherb Noble and John Fremont “J.F.” “Grandpa” McCullough, who developed the “soft-serve” ice-cream formula. Within two hour of opening they dished out 1,600 servings. Dairy Queen was a pioneer in food franchising, and expanded rapidly with its franchise model.

Dairy Queen, more popularly known as DQ has its corporate offices in Minneapolis. Minnesota. DQ Full Brazier restaurants serve additional fast-food menu of burgers, French fries, barbecue beef and pork sandwiches, grilled and crispy chicken; in addition to frozen treats and hot dogs. Dairy Queen has about 7.000 stores in more than 25 countries.

9. Taco Bell

Best Fast Food Chains

Taco Bell is a chain of fast-food restaurants, and a subsidiary of Yum! Brands Inc. Its headquarters is in Irvine, California. Taco Bell serves more than 2 billion customers each year in its 7,000 restaurants. Taco Bell is the most successful restaurant chain selling Mexican food, and they serve a variety of Tex-Mex foods which includes tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas and other specialty items along with a variety of “value menu” items.

Taco Bell was founded in 1946 by Glen Bell, who first opened a hot dog stand called Bell’s Drive-In in San Bernardino, California. In 1950, he opened Bell’s Hamburgers and Hot Dogs, and later opened a new stand, this time selling tacos under the name of Taco-Tia. He opened the first Taco Bell in Downey in 1962. The company grew rapidly and opened its 100th restaurant in 1967.

In 1978, PepsiCo purchased Taco Bell. In 1991, Taco Bell opened the Taco Bell Express, which were smaller restaurants offering items priced under $1 and operated inside convenience stores, shopping malls, and airports. In 1995, it began co-branding with KFC. Taco Bell has offered several incentives to its agricultural suppliers to take care of their workers.

8. Dunkin’ Donuts

Best Fast Food Chains

Dunkin’ Donuts started as a new name given to a restaurant selling donuts and coffee, in 1950 in Quincy, Massachusetts. It was the brainchild of William Rosenberg who found that donuts and coffee were the two most popular items for working people. In 1955 the restaurant began offering franchises. Its products include several varieties of donuts, bagels, cookies, muffins, and baked items sold under the brand name “Munchkins”, It also has toasted sandwiches under the brand name “Big N’ Toasted”, “Coolatta” is an iced drink with coffee and cream, or as a slush made with fruit.

Its original slogan was “Sounds Good, Tastes Even Better” was later replaced with “America Runs on Dunkin'”, which became hugely popular especially with those working in corporate and offices. Dunkin’ Donuts also owns Baskin-Robbins ice creams and has grown to become the largest coffee and baked goods chains in the world. It has more than 12,000 restaurants in 36 countries. Dunkin’ Donuts has an ambitious plan to expand its number of US locations to 15,000 by 2020.

7. Domino’s Pizza

Best Fast Food Chains

In March 2017, Domino’s Pizza made headlines with an announcement that it will use drones to deliver pizza within a one-mile radius of its stores, in partnership with Starship Technologies. Earlier in 2016, Domino’s New Zealand had delivered the world’s first pizza by a drone. Domino’s pizza is the second largest pizza chain after Pizza Hut. Domino’s Pizza Inc. has its headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

It has spread to 82 countries with 12,000 outlets. In February 2016, Domino’s opened its 1,000th store in India. Outside USA, India is the only country that has over 1000 Domino’s outlets, covering 230 cities. Indian flavors such as paneer pizza, chicken tikka masala pizza and kheema do pyaza pizza have become popular in other countries too. An Indian company Jubilant FoodWorks is the master franchisee for India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

One of the most Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of Domino’s was the “30-minute guarantee” that assured customers free pizza in case it is not delivered within 30 minutes of placing an order. This discontinued later in USA as public opinion attributed this as a cause road accidents. However, this offer continues in countries like Colombia, Vietnam, Mexico, China, Turkey and India.

Domino’s Pizza started in 1960 when Tom Monaghan and his brother James, purchased DomiNick’s, a small pizza store in Michigan. Later they bought two more pizzerias and wanted to use the same name. But the owner was reluctant to let them use the same name, so they renamed the business as Domino’s Pizza in 1965 with the three dots in the logo representing the three stores.

In August 2012, Domino’s Pizza changed their name to simply Domino’s and also modified its logo. This was to highlight their non-pizza product such as chicken wings, apple pies, lasagna, and pasta. The Domino’s menu varies by region. Although pizzas are the main item in a variety of crust styles and toppings, new foods were added such as pasta, bread bowls, oven-baked sandwiches, chicken side dishes, breadsticks and also beverages and desserts.

It also introduced pan pizzas, American Legends line of specialty pizzas, BreadBowl Pasta and the Lava Crunch Cake dessert. Coca-Cola is the only soft drink option, unlike other pizza chains which serve Pepsi.

6. Burger King

Best Fast Food Chains 2019

Burger King (BK) is an American global chain of hamburger fast food restaurants and second only to McDonald’s. It is headquartered in Miami-Dade County, Florida. In 1954, two entrepreneurs David Edgerton and James McLamore in Miami, purchased a burger company and named it “Burger King.”

Since then, the company ownership has changed several times. From burgers and French fries, Burger King’s menu has expanded to cover several new food items. In 1957, its signature product “Whopper” burger, was launched, which went on to become America’s favorite sandwich. Burger King has seen lots of ups and down and several change of ownership. The Burger King model of franchising, the regional model, where franchisees had the right to open stores within a geographic region, turned out to be faulty as it had very little control over its franchisees.

Later it modified its franchisee policy where Burger King was the primary owner of new locations and rents or leases the restaurants to its franchises. This allowed Burger King to have more control over its franchises. It ranks next to McDonald’s in chain of hamburger fast food restaurants. As of 2016, it had its presence in more than 90 countries with more than 13,000 outlets.

5. Starbucks

Best Fast Food Chains

Starbucks initially was not a chain of coffee shops but started as a store selling sell high-quality roasted coffee beans and coffee roasting equipment. The first Starbucks opened in Seattle, Washington, in 1971. The founders were three students of University of San Francisco; Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker. It was named after the chief mate in the book Moby-Dick, Starbuck. Later they began buying coffee beans directly from the coffee growers.

In 1987, Starbucks chain was sold to Howard Schultz, who rebranded his coffee outlets as Starbucks. With the legendary Schulz as the Chairman and CEO of the company, Starbucks expanded rapidly. In 2016, it operates across 23,768 locations worldwide in 72 countries. Starbucks maintains control over the whole process by communicating with farmers to secure beans, roasting its own beans, and managing distribution to all its outlets worldwide.

Over time Starbucks kept on innovating and adding new products to it portfolio. For example, in 2012, Starbucks began selling a line of iced Starbucks Refresher beverages made out of green arabica coffee beans, which are not coffee-flavored but fruit flavoured. In 2015, Starbucks served coconut milk as an alternative to dairy and soya milk.

In 2010, Starbucks opened its first coffee shop at sea, aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. In 2012, Starbucks announced 50:50 joint venture with Tata Global Beverages; called Tata Starbucks which will own and operate Starbucks outlets in India. The first store was opened in Mumbai, and then in Delhi International Airport.

In 2016, it had more than 86 outlets in 9 cities in India. While Starbucks is doing impressive business and opening new outlet almost every day, its chairman Howard Schultz has announced his retirement from April 2017.

4. Pizza Hut

Best Fast Food Chains

Pizza Hut was founded in June 1958, in Wichita, Kansas, by two university students, brothers Dan and Frank Carney. Pizza Hut has several different restaurant formats like the original family-style dine-in locations; delivery and carry-out locations; and hybrid locations that have all these facilities. It also has Pizza Hut “Bistro” locations which are “Red Roofs” and have expanded menu and upscale options. “Pizza Hut Express” and “The Hut” locations are fast food restaurants. Pizza Hut keeps on adding new products and discontinues less-selling ones. PepsiCo acquired Pizza Hut in 1977.

US President Donald Trump appeared in a Pizza Hut commercial in 1994 with his then-wife Ivana Trump. Pizza Hut has delivered pizza to the International Space Station in 2001. With more than 15,000 outlets in more than 100 countries, Pizza hut is the largest pizza delivery company in the world. It is now a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., which is one of the largest restaurant companies in the world.

3. Subway

Best Fast Food Chains

Subway IP Inc. has its headquarters in Milford, Connecticut. Subway was founded in 1965, by Fred DeLuca and his friend Peter Buck, as “Pete’s Super Submarines”, and in 1968, the sandwich shop was renamed “Subway”. Its main product is submarine sandwich called “subs”, wraps, baked goods like cookies, doughnuts, muffins and salads. It expanded rapidly and opened its outlets all over US and expanded its operation overseas. From 2004, Subway began opening stores in Walmart supercenters and by 2007 it overtook McDonald’s locations inside U.S. Walmart stores.

By 2010 Subway became the largest fast food chain worldwide, with about a thousand restaurants more than its nearest rival McDonald’s. In 2016, Subway announced a new logo for the franchise, and an updated “restaurant of the future” concept, which will be rolled out from 2017. Subway’s best-selling sandwich, the B.M.T. containing pepperoni, salami, and ham originally stood for Brooklyn Manhattan Transit, but now stands for “Bigger, Meatier, Tastier”.

Subway also sells breakfast and club sandwiches with roasted chicken and tuna, muffins and flatbread. In 2006, “personal pizzas” were launched, which were ‘made to order’ like their subs and heated for 85 seconds. In 2008, Subway began to offer ‘foot-long’ submarine sandwiches for five dollars, which were a runaway hits. Subway has more than 45,000 restaurants in 112 countries and is one of the fastest growing fast food chains in the world

2. KFC

Best Fast Food Chains

Kentucky Fried Chicken, popularly known as KFC, is the world’s second-largest restaurant chain after McDonald’s, with more than 20,000 locations globally in 148 countries. It has its headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, in a three-story colonial style building known as the “White House” due to its resemblance to the US president’s home.

KFC is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, one of the largest restaurant companies in the world which also owns the Pizza Hut and Taco Bell chains. KFC was founded in 1930 by Colonel Harland Sanders, who began selling fried chicken made with his secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices, from his roadside restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky. The first “Kentucky Fried Chicken” franchise opened in Utah in 1952.

KFC popularised chicken in the fast food industry, challenging the dominance of the hamburger. “Colonel Sanders” became a prominent figure of American cultural history, and his image is widely used in KFC advertising. In 1957, it introduced cardboard “bucket” for large portions of fried chicken. By 1963 there were 600 KFC restaurants, and KFC became the largest fast food operation in US. In 1964, Sanders sold the company to a group of investors as he was overwhelmed by its rapid expansion.

By mid sixties, KFC opened outlets in Canada, UK, Mexico and Jamaica to become one of the first American fast food chains to expand internationally. By 1970, KFC had 3,000 outlets in 48 countries. In 1971, the company was sold to a Connecticut-based company Heublein. In 1982, Heublein was acquired by R. J. Reynolds which sold KFC to PepsiCo for $850 million.

In 1987, KFC opened in China, the first Western restaurant chain to do so, and China is now the company’s single largest market. In 1991, the KFC name was officially adopted as the word ‘fried’ sounded unhealthy. In the early nineties a number of new products were launched including spicy “Hot Wings”, popcorn chicken, the “Zinger”, a spicy chicken fillet burger.

Also it expanded its menu to include chicken fillet burgers and wraps, salads and side dishes like French fries, desserts, and soft drink Pepsi. KFC’s classic slogan “Finger Lickin’ Good” is still used even today. In 1997, PepsiCo spun off its restaurants division as a public company named Tricon Global Restaurants which was renamed Yum! Brands Inc. in 2002.

1. McDonald’s

Best Fast Food Chains 2019

McDonald’s, also known McD, has its corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois. McDonald’s was founded in 1940, as a restaurant opened by Richard and Maurice McDonald. The first McDonald’s franchise opened in Phoenix, Arizona in 1953. The company was later bought by Ray Kroc.

Today, McDonald’s is one of the world’s largest restaurant chains, serving approximately 68 million customers daily in more than 37.000 outlets 120 countries across the world. McDonald’s primarily sells hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken products, French fries, breakfast items, soft drinks, milkshakes, wraps, and desserts. According to a BBC report in 2012, McDonald’s is the world’s second largest private employer, after Walmart; employing 1.5 million.

In 1962 the company chose the Golden Arches as the company symbol. A new mascot, a clown like figure called Ronald McDonald was introduced in 1965 which became hugely popular with children. McDonald’s trains its franchisees and management at Hamburger University in Oak Brook, Illinois. Today McDonald’s is a household name that needs no introduction.

To conclude, there are several ways to rank a restaurant chains in terms of number of outlets, value of sales revenue, number of sale s, number of people being served etc. These ranking are based on popularity. However, irrespective of deploying any particular way to rank, the fact remains that these top 11 fast food chains are those that have influenced humanity the most and have changed the eating habits of billions. With their ever-expanding networks, they are coming closer to you every day, and are here to stay.


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