Around our country we see the icons of the franchising industry and that is all the fast food businesses you see, visit and buy from. The fast food franchises continue to do well in nearly any market, mostly because North American's continue to go to them more and more. This has a lot to do with the amount of time that people have to make their own meals... which is not very much. That is the problem, or call it a win if you want, for the fast food industry. As people's lives continue to be filled with jobs, activities and other stuff, they have less and less time to make their own meals. The convenience and speed of the fast food restaurants is what many people use to feed themselves and their families.

What does this really mean, well, 2 things. 1. North American people are consumers and consume vast quantities of fast food. 2. This means that there are huge business opportunities in the fast food industry to take advantage of.

As a business entrepreneur, you may be looking to start a new business, buy an existing business or buy into a franchise. There are benefits to each option, but in my opinion, you should seriously consider one of the most stable, easy to setup, easy to run businesses, which is a fast food franchise. This is not a free ride, and the business does not run itself. You need to put 100% of your time and effort into a franchise, just a you would any other business. The benefit to a franchise is that you can implement a well known, successful system in very little time and start turning a profit almost immediately after you open your business. That being said, out of all the franchise industries, the fast food restaurants tend to do very well, have a low failure rate and also thrive in a recession as well. Out of all the fast food restaurants and kiosks available to buy, here is a list of the top 10 rated fast food franchises for 2009.

1. Subway

Subway restaurant and subway express have been one of the top franchises to buy for the last 10 years or more. Subway has again reached top status in many franchise and business categories for businesses to get into. Subway promotes both a healthy alternative to the hamburger, yet also offering the speed of a traditional fast food restaurant. Many of the subway submarines have less then 6 grams of fat in them, making them one of the lowest fat content fast food choices around. Subway restaurants are the undisputed leader in serving fast, great tasting, fresh subs , sandwiches, salads and wraps. This franchise will continue to dominate the industry because it not only caters to the fast food consumer, it also focuses on the health conscious crowd.

2. McDonald's

McDonald's is probably considered one of the first and older franchises around. Although they are not the first, they have probably done it the best so far. A&W restaurants were actually the first and older franchise business in North America. McDonald's did not start franchising until 1955. A&W started in 1925, that is a significant time difference. McDonald's is an international franchise and has locations is over 110 countries. With more then 50,000 restaurants and kiosks world wide, this company is a sure winner. McDonald's has one of the most recognized symbols in the world and continues to change the fast food industry with new ideas and unique marketing and advertising campaigns.

3. Sonic Drive In Restaurant

A true American company, all of the 3000 plus franchises are within the United States and continue to grow each year. Sonic markets itself as being the American drive-in. Sonic's menu inline burgers, chicken, coneys, wraps, sandwiches, breakfast burritos, french fries, onion rings and over 150,000 drink combination's. Sonic has been franchising since 1955 and has been growing since, not with the same speed and international flare that McDonald's does, but a more American style, local franchise business.

4. KFC Corp

KFC is a chicken place, if you don't already know that. They are actually the world's most popular chicken restaurant chain. There are over 15,000 KFC locations around the world and have a long standing reputation and brand recognition that is hard to beat. You can't go wrong with a big bucket of original recipe or extra crispy chicken. KFC has been around a long time too, they began franchising in 1952 and have a long standing claim in the fast food franchising business tree.

5. Dairy Queen

DQ is the king, or should I say queen of ice cream. Specifically, soft-serve ice cream. Dairy Queen has been franchising since 1944. They started with only soft ice cream cones, sundaes and take home pints and quarts. Today is a different story. They not only continue with the original cones and sundaes, they have expanded into a full menu of food and ice cream treats that include burgers, fries, sandwiches, hot dogs, chicken strips, banana splits, moo-latte's and the ever so popular Dilly Bar. There are over 5000 locations around the world, with over 4000 of them within the Unites States alone.

6. Arby's

Arby's is all about the roast beef. With a unique sandwich idea, the Raffel Brothers opened the first Arby's in 1964 and have not looked back since. They are famous for their shaved roast beef sandwiches and curly fries. Recently, they have added many more items to the traditional fast food menu of fries and chicken strips to include lighter, healthier choices. Arby's now offers deli style sandwiches. Arby's franchises are offered in a wide variety of concepts from stand alone restaurants, to shopping mall kiosks. This allows a wider range of investors to get into the fast food business through owning an Arny's franchise, you can get into one for under $350,000 total investment.

7. Taco Bell Corp.

Taco Bell is the first in the top 10 fast food franchise list to offer mexican food. Up to now, we have seen the burger, chicken and submarine businesses. Taco Bell is the only mexican restaurant in the top 10 too. This is for good reason. There are over 5000 Taco Bell restaurants worldwide and their numbers have been increasing year after year. This franchise is not for the low budget investor, you can expect to invest upwards of $1,200,000 or more to buy and build a Taco Bell franchise. If you love the food industry and mexican food, there is no other choice really, go with the number 1 mexican fast food franchise, Taco Bell.

8. Quiznos Subs

Another submarine restaurant makes the top 10 fast food franchise list. This time they only made it to position 8, far behind the leader, Subway. Even though Subway is rated number one for many years and have a great expansion and service record, Quiznos subs does very well too. Quiznos Subs show no sign of slowing down and have increased the franchise locations every year for many, many years. There are currently over 5000 locations world wide and growing. They specialize in hot, fresh, straight out of the oven subs. They also serve great soups and salads. There is no mistaking what you get with a Quiznos sub. It's a great investment both for people looking for a low cost business and for those with greater ambitions who have a little more capital to spend.

9. Carl's Jr.

Carl's Jr. has re-invented the burger many times over, producing some of the best fast food burgers today. Their "six-dollar burger" combines premium beef with bacon, guacamole, Swiss cheese, and just about any other great burger topping you can think of. With over 600 locations already all over the country, they're ready to take on more franchisees and spread further throughout the country, bringing burger bliss that's a cut above the competition to their customers.

10. Smoothie King

This franchise might have surprised a few people for making it to the top 10. This is a business that is focused on health and wellness and does not fit the typical profile for a fast food restaurant. Smoothing King started franchising many years ago and have increased franchise locations every year since. They started in 1988 and now have over 550 locations world wide. Smoothie King concepts have been copied several times over, but if you want to get into a fast food franchise that does not involve traditional burgers and fries, this might be the one for you. Smoothie King only offers healthy, low fat, vitamin enriched snacks and smoothies. With more and more people becoming health conscious, this business has only one way to go and that is up.

That pretty much sums it up. If you hadn't noticed, I did not include Pizza restaurants in this list. I personally do not consider a pizza restaurant, delivery or take out a fast food restaurant. I think of a pizza place as simple a restaurant. I will agree that there are fast food pizza hut franchise kiosks around, but in general they are a full serve restaurant. If you wanted to know, Pizza Hut is the top rated pizza business franchise opportunity available, followed closely by Papa John's pizza and Domino's Pizza.

You have likely eaten at these fast food places, or have heard of almost all of them. If you are looking to buy into a fast food franchise, this would be a great list to start from. If you are going to invest your money into a business, invest it into one that has a solid foundation, a good franchise system, support and tools to help you succeed. Every one of these businesses will meet that criteria and more. You should not limit yourself to the top 10 list. There are many more fast food businesses available to buy into, and each one will have it's own unique product. With the right management and commitment from you, the owner, you can make almost any business a successful venture. Remember that these businesses are not fool proof or guaranteed winners, you need to work hard and put in 100% of your time and effort to succeed.