Who’s got the beef? Wendy’s won top mega chain honors in the Zagat/Today Show fast-food survey of 5,535 participants. Among fast-food chains with more than 5,000 locations, Wendy’s was voted Number 1 for Food, Facilities and Popularity as well as grabbing 30% of the votes for best burger. Burger King came in second for best burger with 22% of the votes while McDonald’s flopped at 13% of the votes for best burger. But don’t feel too bad for McDonald’s; their french fries won by biggie numbers, capturing 63% of the votes, while Burger King and Wendy’s only received 10% each of the votes for best french fries. McDonald’s also took the Number 1 spot for the most child-friendly fast-food establishment. Incidentally, burgers took the top category of all fast-food choices.
In the category of Healthy Options, Subway, without any super-size options, took top spot. Panera Bread Company and Chipotle took second and third, respectively. Panera Bread Company also received the most votes for Overall Most Popular Fast-Fooder, as well as best in Food and best in Facilities. In almost a near tie, Chick-fil-A won with 29% of the votes for best poultry over Kentucky Fried Chicken with 28% of the votes. Popeye’s came in third with 16% of the votes. Dairy Queen won for Best Shakes, followed by McDonald’s and Sonic. Ronald McDonald won for Favorite Mascot, and Subway won for Top Service in the mega-chain category. In the category of Full-Service Chains, the Most Popular was Outback Steakhouse which also won for Top Food. Cracker Barrel won for Top Facilities and for Top Service. Top honors for Healthy Options in full-service chains went to Applebee’s, which offers a Weight Watcher’s menu.
Survey participants were also asked to rate certain attitudes and opinions about eating out in general. The responses they gave will send a big message to restaurants and fast-food establishments, in case they haven’t already gotten the message:
1. 93% of respondents said they are concerned about the industry’s health standards.
2. 45% report being concerned with the fat and calorie content of fast food, while 48% said they are somewhat concerned.
3. 86% of surveyors said food matters most in a full-service restaurant, followed by service with 50% of the votes.
4. 79% say taste is their top consideration in choosing fast-foods, while 49% say it is price and value.
5. 49% say cleanliness is their biggest irritant in fast-food establishments, followed by 47% for nutrition, 38% for food quality, and 37% for service.
The comments provided by some of the respondents are a little more suggestive than the percentages. Here are a few of the opinions people had to offer:
“The only healthy thing about this place is the exit door.”
“eColi is free with every order.”
“Love the cheese-flavored plastic.”
“Good tasting until the left ventricle finally gives out.”
“Best consumed drunk.”
Well, there it is. Now it’s your turn to provide some comments on the fast-food and full-chain dining experiences. Personally, I’m disappointed that the green chili Whataburger didn’t make the top ranks.