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Top 5 Fast Food Restaurants 2012

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 5 10

There are numerous fast food restaurants and even with the economic downturn it seems as if they continue expanding. Here are the top 5 fast food restaurants  ranked by number of sales in the United States. As many fast food chains continue to expand there are still locations that get closed up and shuttered, even among successful fast food chains.

As fast food restaurants continue to grow rapidly with new locations, some of the locations have proven to be a poor business decision so to increase overall profits these underperforming stores are shut down even as new stores are opened up in new locations. With all of the changes some of the biggest chains continue to grow at a rapid pace, especially in newer Countries. Here are the top 5 fast food restaurants in 2012 as ranked by total sales.

1.  McDonald’s


McDonalds was the largest fast food chain in the United States for many years, but has been overtook by Subway. Although Subway now has more locations then McDonald’s in the United States, McDonald’s is still much more profitable. The revenue in 2011 for McDonald’s was astounding and allowed them to continue to be the leader in sales among fast food chains; however their customer satisfaction has took a hit and surveys show that McDonald’s ranks very poorly among consumers for satisfaction.

McDonald’s continues to innovate and create new products that have both a large mass appeal to their customers and a larger profit margin. The economic frailty in the United States has actually allowed McDonald’s to remain successful and money strapped people continue to visit McDonald’s for their low-cost value menu.

2. Subway


Subway may not make as much money as McDonald’s does, they do have more locations and customer satisfaction surveys have shown that Subway is very popular. Subway ranks second in overall sales but they were voted as America’s favorite fast food chain by consumers. Customers flock to Subway for many reasons including the “$5.00 Footlongs”; it is viewed as a healthier alternative to other greasy fast food joints, the easy availability of a Subway location regardless of where you live or travel to, and the variety of sandwiches that can be had.

3. Starbucks


Traditionally many people view Starbucks as simply an over-priced coffee house, but they also sell a lot of food and snacks. Even though the vast majority of their sales are beverages, they still managed to sell enough to put them into the number 3 spot for most revenue for a food chain in the United States. Customer loyalty among Starbucks customers is amazingly high and many of their customers make a daily stop to Starbucks as part of their ritual.

4. Wendy’s


Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers have consistently ranked in third place as the largest burger chain. McDonald’s is obviously number 1 but Wendy’s was finally able to overtake Burger King and become the second largest burger chain in the United States behind McDonald’s.

Starbucks beat out Wendy’s by 1 and a ¼ billion in revenue. 1 and a ¼ billion in revenue may seem like a lot but in the world of fast food a ¼ billion is very close.  Wendy’s may not be able to overtake Starbucks in sales this year; however Wendy’s continues to expand and a safe pace. Wendy’s may never overtake McDonalds in the amount of total revenue earned but Wendy’s definitely beats McDonald’s in customer satisfaction surveys.

Wendy's also got rid of their plain tasting french fries and moved onto a much better tasting french fry.

5. Burger King

Burger King(108297)

The flame broiled Whoppers at Burger King continue to be very popular each year, but same store sales over the previous year dropped at many locations. Many of the stores are outdated and Burger King has been working hard at modernizing many of their locations with the new style of store. Although Burger King Remains a very profitable and successful company overall but the “King” was dethroned by Wendy’s and they snuck ahead of them in sales for the first time. Burger King is working hard to increase same store sales and catch back up to Wendy’s, but they will have a very hard time doing this. Consumers are generally very happy with Wendy’s and the Wendy's fast food chain continues to increase their customer base. Wendy’s has long been a popular spot for senior citizens but their new-found popularity with 18-35 year olds has allowed Wendy’s to siphon off  a lot of business from Burger King. Traditionally the 18-35 demographics preferred Burger King over Wendy’s but this has rapidly changed over the last couple of years and younger people are now eating more at Wendy’s and less at Burger King than ever before.


All fast food companies continue to innovate and create new marketing campaigns, new products, and new store designs to help draw customers in. Innovation in the fast food industry continues to increase at a historic rate, especially when one restaurant does something that becomes popular and then the other chains copy the idea and implement something similar.

Although all of the most popular fast food chain restaurants will continue to expand and grow, as mentioned above many under-performing stores will be closed up. Successful fast food restaurants want to continue increasing their profit margins and by closing stores that are losing money and opening up stores in new areas they increase their profit potential while limiting the risks involved in their overall business plans.

Fast food chains constantly need to adapt to changing customer desires such as healthier food that still tastes good, but fast food chains always need to keep long-time customer favorites such as McDonald’s and their Big Mac burger sandwich.

What is your favorite fast food chain? Please leave a comment and share your opinions on which places you like and why you like them.



Aug 6, 2012 3:53pm
Nice information on the fast food restaurants. I had heard that Subway had moved up on the list, which I consider a good thing. Their food seems to be healthier than the offerings at other fast food places.
Aug 15, 2012 3:46pm
Thank you for your comments. I believe that the focus on healthy fast food will increase in the future.
Aug 6, 2012 5:29pm
HI--What an interesting concept: I get on fast food kicks and will eat it four or five days in a rwo and then not again for a month or two--I like McDonalds a lot and Burger King now and then. As for cold sandwiches, I prefer making my own. Anyway, two big thumbs up for originality and once again good writing.
Aug 15, 2012 3:47pm
Thank you very much for the visit and comments (and the thumbs).
Sep 19, 2012 6:17am
Good article, I nearly threw up seeing all those greasy food pics though :)
Sep 19, 2012 1:24pm
LOL Thank you for your comment! Well, have a Coca Cola together with the burger. :)
Sep 19, 2012 7:45am
Great article! But personally I would rank Burger King as second after McDonald. I am in Australia and here Burger King is called Hungry Jacks!! Funny name yeah I know, but it is SO GOOD plus they feature grilled burgers instead of the traditional fried ones. Anyway, good job mate.
Sep 19, 2012 1:26pm
Thank you for your visit here at the Fast Food Restaurant.
Sep 21, 2012 3:14am
Delicious article. I don't eat fast food that much anymore but I do get the craving now and then and I gotta say I'm a Johnny Rockets fan. Maybe it's that old fashioned feel that the chain embraces while all others go hi tech and mainstream, but their burgers haven't disappointed me yet. That said, all of them have awesome tasting food but I'm more concerned about my health as I get older so I usually keep driving when I get the urge. One thing is sure, MSG (Monosodium Glutamate), the flavor enhancing additive attributed to Chinese food and cancer causer, is rampant in the Fast Food industry and unlike the Chinese restaurant made to order food, you can't ask to have your Whopper without MSG. Looking more into this online I found a post about the top MSG offenders in America and they listed KFC as the #1 offender followed by BK...wow.
Sep 21, 2012 11:16am
Thank you for your very detailed and observant comments. I appreciate your visit.
Nov 9, 2012 11:52pm
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Nov 9, 2012 11:52pm
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Nov 9, 2012 11:52pm
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