A handful of foods are so popular theyre actually iconic. Most people not only know how they taste but also how they look, their packaging, the way they smell. McDonalds french fries epitomize this: the thin, pliable red cardboard container, the golden exterior and fluffy interior, the extra fine salt sticking to my fingers. I always dig into the box for the short, brittle, super-crunchy fries, though the longer, softer fries are definitely the best for dipping.

Turns out, Im far from alone in my love for McDonalds fries: Theyre the most popular fast food of all time.

(Want to know the scientific reason McDonalds fries are so tasty?)

Brothers Eugene and John Letts opened the firstJets Pizzarestaurant in Michigan in 1978 and since then, its spread to18 different statesacross the US.

Jets claims not to scrimp on ingredients. And its pizzas arent dirt cheap. On average, customers can expect to spend $8.05 on a meal at the chain. Its signature style, the deep-dish square pizza, comes in many varieties or customers can choose to create their own from scratch

Founded in 1990 in a California beach town, Jamba Juice was years ahead of todays ubiquitous green smoothie and healthy living trends and remained a favorite for loyal customers over the years.

Thechains menuhas expanded since then, now offering Greek yogurt or acai berry bowls with soy milk. Theres also plenty of new fruit and vegetable smoothies.

When Potbelly opened in 1977,it was an antique shop. The young couple who ran it decided they wanted to serve lunch to their customers and the store evolved into a local lunch spot. In 1996, entrepreneurBryant Keilbought Potbelly and turned it into a franchise; he stepped down as CEO in 2008 andis no longer involved.

Today, not only do all the Potbelly stores serve sandwiches and fresh cookies, but each location has itsown potbelly stove.

At Jimmy Johns, customers cant get enough of the chains signature subs and freaky fast delivery service. Jimmy John Liautaudopened the first shop back in 1983to avoid pressure from his father to perform a stint in the Army. Papa Liautaud lent him $25,000, and if the restaurant turned a profit the first year he wouldnt have to enlist. Sure enough, the gourmet sub business took off and he slowly expanded across the country it now has the most amount of franchises in our top 25 list.

Jimmy Johns franchisescommit to sustainabilityby partnering with suppliers who reach high standards of sustainable and ethical food practices. The chain also employs local businesses to build and maintain each JJs store.

This Florida-based franchise was founded in 1994 by a pair of brothers who were former firefighters and sought to bring the enthusiasm and appetite of the firehouse to their restaurants.

Serving bold-flavor sandwiches piled high with quality meats and cheeses, this popular chain is in growth mode, having opened in Canada and nowexpanding into Mexico.

Its not just ice cream parlor,Cold Stone Creameryserves up smoothies, cakes, and shakes also. The ice cream is freshly made every day in the stores and blended on a frozen granite stone, which keeps the temperature exactly the same.

Cold Stone also supportscommunity projects, working closely with Best Buddies, a non-profit that helps people with disabilities to secure jobs and live independently.

This Canadian chain, known for its coffee and donuts, has also become a favorite in the US. It was set up in 1964 by its namesake Tim Horton, a formerNational Hockey Leaguelegend in Canada.

Horton started off by selling coffee and donuts, which cost 10 cents each, but by the 80s he added muffins, cakes, soups, and chili into the mix. These are now staples on the menu.

The cafe also offersCold Stone Creameryice cream in certain locations.

The average customer order totals just over $10 at Schlotzskys, according to Technomic. Thats pricey for a sandwich shop, but the higher-quality offerings keep customers satisfied. Schlotzkysserves upa mix of classic and specialty sandwiches as well as offering four different types of mac n cheese, flatbreads, soups, salads, and gourmet pizzas.

After more than 40 years of operation, Schlotzskys now has locations in35 states and three foreign countries.

The Mississippi-based deli specializes inlocal and regional American favorites, from The New Yorker with its corned beef, pastrami, and Swiss on marbled rye to the Spicy Southwest Chicken with guacamole, fire-roasted corn, and chipotle ranch sauce.

Its well-known for its Sweet Tea drink, which is brewed in store and comes withfree refills.

The cult favorite started in Washington, DC, in 1986 whenformer bond trader Jerry Murrelland his family opened a burger joint named after Murrell and his four sons with the goal of cooking hamburgers and fries using the best quality ingredients.

The chain is off-limits to those with peanut allergies, as all fries are cooked inpeanut oiland there are barrels of old-fashioned peanuts lining each shops dining area.

Cinnabon is all about cinnamon. This popular chain was the brainchild of a father and son duo, who opened thefirst bakeryin Seattle, Washington in 1985.

Its is known for its signaturewarm cinnamon roll, which comes with a rich cream cheese frosting and is sold in various different sizes, but theres also cinnamon flavored donuts, crispy pastry straws, and an expansive coffee menu.

Best friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield originally had plans tocreate a bagel companybut found that the bagel-making equipment was too expensive. Instead, they purchased an old gas station and turned it into a scoop shop.

The brand celebrated 39 years in business this March and is now known forinventive ice-cream flavorslike Red Velvet Cake, Phish Food, and Cherry Garcia. Each employee that works for the company is giventhree tubsof Ben & Jerrys a day.

West Coast chain Habit Burger Grill first set up shop in 1969 in Santa Barbara, serving burgers with freshly-baked buns. Since then, the chain has swelled to 175 restaurants in 10 states across the US. Its also added chicken and tuna burgers, salads and shakes to its menu, and was named thebest-tasting burger in Americain 2014, according to a survey by Consumer Reports, beating competitors like Shake Shack, In-N-Out, and Five Guys.

This cheap pizza joint first opened in Toledo in 1978. Today, it has800 restaurantsacross the US, the Bahamas, India, and Puerto Rico.

Themenuhas grown too, and Marcos now offers sandwiches, hot chicken wings, and salads, along with multiple sauces to go with each dish.

Started by two childhood friends aiming to alleviate the lack of great wing joints in their Georgia hometown, Zaxbys is known for its craveable wing sauces and crinkle-cut fries.

CEO Peter Cancrobought his first Jersey Mikesat the age of 17 after spending his summers working at the sandwich shop in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. A high school senior at the time, Cancro was able to buy the shop after he took a loan from his school football coach at the time.

Jersey Mikes is now known for its handcrafted subs loaded with high-quality ingredients. In 2016,Nations Restaurant Newsannounced that it was the fastest growing restaurant chain in the US.

At Culvers, diners can expect to spend a little more than they would at a run-of-the-mill burger joint, with average orders totaling around $10, according to Technomic. But it might just be worth it for the chains frozen custard andButterBurgers, the signature burger that gets its name from the glaze of butter that coats the bun.

This year,Culverswas ranked insecond place on Restaurant Businessannual list of Americas favorite chains.

Nutrition is a priorityat Jasons Deli, which serves sandwiches, salads, pastas, soups, and desserts. It has eliminated artificial trans fat, most artificial MSG, and all artificial colors, dyes, and flavors from its food over the past 10 years. It even claims that its soft-serve is made with100% natural ingredients.

This pizza franchise started in 1995 after the merger of two pizzerias, Papa Aldos and Murphys Pizza. Its pies are take and bake, meaning they are made to order and cooked in the customers oven at home.

Customers can pick from the signature pies like Pepperoni and Hawaiian, or they can create their own and choose the type of dough, sauce, and toppings. Papa Murphys scores top marks for customer satisfaction on value, coming in at second place in the total list of 25 restaurants.

With only 68 stores, Pollo Campero is by far the smallest chain on the list. But diners adore the casual chicken spot, touting it as a solid value.

Pollo Campero, initially founded in Guatemala in 1971, stands out from other better chicken chains, such as Wingstop and Raising Canes, for itsauthentic Latin flavors and impeccable service meals are served on real plates with real silverware.

In 1937,Krispy Kreme founderVernon Rudolph used a recipe given to him by a New Orleans chef so that he could make and sell doughnuts to local grocery stores. As the fresh-baked donut smell wafted into the streets, customers began requesting to purchase the delicacies directly, so Rudolph cut a hole in the wall to open his first retail location.

In October 2015, the chain opened anew store in North Carolinawhich resembled a coffee shop, Business Insider reported. Six months later, it was bought by JAB, the parent company of coffee brands including Caribou Coffee, Peets Coffee and Tea, and Keurig Green Mountain, foraround $1.35 million.

Whataburger founderHarmon Dobsons goal was to create a burger so big that customers would have to use both hands to hold it. It would be so good that at first bite they would declare, What a burger! Thus, in 1950, Whataburger was born.

What started off as a burger stand, almost 70 years ago, now has700 restaurantsin the US. Although it lost out to In-N-Out Burger in Business Insiderstaste comparison, its still a favorite of many in the south.

This Southern favorite is the largest food chain on our list and comes in first place for total sales in 2016.

The fried-chicken chaindiversified its menulast year, adding a kale and broccolini salad, a premium coffee line, new sauces, and a barbecue-bacon sandwich in an effort to take on competitors. If you want to know whats best to order, check outBusiness Insidersguide.

Raising Canes Chicken Fingers focuses on only one menu item:first-rate chicken strips. But what truly keeps fans addicted is Canes signature tangy sauce, a secret blend that customers cant get enough of.

Raising Canes has a high customer satisfaction rating and its benefiting the chain; sales grew by 31% in 2016.

In-N-Out Burger scores highest on customer satisfaction and value, making it the winner overall.

Californias first drive-thru hamburger stand, In-N-Out Burger firstopened in 1948. Nearly seven decades later, the menu remains simple, offering only five items. But loyal customers know that if they want to expand their options, they can order off thenot-so-secretmenu it features items such as aprotein styleburger andgrilled cheese.

In-N-Out can only be found on the West Coast, but theres a good reason for that. Since the chain prides itself on serving top-notch ingredients free of additives or preservatives,all stores must be within 300 milesof the distribution facilities. Sorry, East Coasters.


Obviously, McDonalds is a burger-slinging giant, with 37,000 restaurants worldwide and 14,155 in the U.S. alone. They feed 69 million customers every day. How many fries does that require? About 9 millions pounds. Every single day.

According toNBC News, McDonalds uses more than 3.4 billion pounds of U.S.-grown potatoes every year. Theyre the biggest buyer of potatoes in theentire world.

More mind-blowing facts about McDonalds right this way.

According toHowStuffWorks, french fries are the most popular menu item at McDonalds. Not only do many people order fries on their own, fries are also included in almost every meal, from Happy Meals to the biggest burger combos on the board.

Not only are fries popular today, but theyve got another edge on rival fast food menu items: Theyve been around for decades. French fries first appeared in 1949back then they were made with fresh potatoes! Frozen spuds came along in 1967.

Heres what the McDonalds menu looked like the year you were born.

Some people say its the coat of sugar the fresh-cut potatoes get before theyre frozenthe slight sweetness offsets all that salt and makes you keep eating. Others believe its the companys artificial beef flavoring, which was added in the mid-90s when the company switched from frying in beef fat to frying in vegetable oil (a move that made fries trans-fat free). The artificial beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk, so the fries arent gluten-free or vegan.

It might not sound particularly delicious, but they sure taste good.

Craving McDonalds right about now?You can actually replicate their signature foods at home.

Hack:Order two four-piece nuggets instead of one six-piece. Its cheaper, you get more nuggets and you get more sauces. Score.

Hack:Order a McDouble without the ketchup and mustard but with lettuce and Big Mac sauce. Youll pay for the Big Mac taste for the price of a McDouble.

Hack:Order half of one protein and half of another kind (like chicken and steak). Youll almost always get more than half of each and end up with up to 1.5x the protein in your burrito or bowl for the price of a normal portion.

Hack:Order two junior roast beef sandwiches instead of one regular classic. Youllend up with more meat for a lower price.

Hack:Substitute any ingredient in any smoothie for the same price. If youre craving a smoothie with non-fat yogurt instead of mango, or extra strawberries instead of blueberries, customize it to your liking without any extra charge. It will save you more than being charged for creating your own smoothie from scratch.

Hack:Order two Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers and combine them into one for a much cheaper version of a Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger.

Hack:Order a sausage McMuffin off of the dollar menu but ask for the sausage to be substituted with eggan egg McMuffin for a dollar.

Hack:When you call to order delivery, ask if there were any orders that werent deliveredthe pizza place willoften give you those orders for a discounted price (perfect if cold pizza is your thing.)

Hack:Order a Double Steak and Cheese Sub instead of the Philly Cheese Steak Subyoull get the same sandwich at a normal foot-long price.


The best keto-friendly menu items at your favorite restaurant chains

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