Skip to content

This Small Chain Is America's Favorite Fast-Food Brand Right Now

When it comes to fast food, bigger is not better.
FACT CHECKED BY Mura Dominko

With fewer than 2,700 nationwide locations, this fast-food chain can't compete in footprint with the likes of McDonald's or Burger King. But it beats out both chains when it comes to popularity.

At least according to the data. The newly released 2021 Axios Harris Poll, which examines the reputation of most visible brands in America, ranked the iconic chicken purveyor Chick-fil-A as the number one highest-regarded fast-food brand in the country. The chain also came in fourth place across all categories, coming up behind Patagonia, Moderna, and Honda. Pretty impressive, considering Chick-fil-A isn't in the business of COVID vaccines or in the automotive industry.

RELATED: Chick-fil-A Is Launching a Brand New Type of Restaurant

McDonald's and Burger King, finished in 73rd and 84th place respectively, which is a long ways away from the kind of adoration the much-smaller Chick-fil-A inspires among Americans. For comparison's sake, McDonald's operates over five times as many U.S. locations as Chick-fil-A, and Burger King has just under three times as many brick-and-mortars. It does seem like we're dealing with a quality-over-quantity situation.

Especially when you consider the fact that the next-highest regarded fast-food place, In-n-Out, only has 358 locations nationwide. The classically Californian burger joint came in 17th place overall, which is amazing, but also further shows that Chick-fil-A absolutely dominated their category.

This year's Axios Harris Poll surveyed 42,935 Americans and used a two-step process. First, they collected data that allowed them to compile a list of the best-known brands in the nation. Then they asked a second, smaller group of participants about their impression of those brands, evaluating them on citizenship, ethics, culture, trust, vision, growth, and products and services.

It's hard to nail down exactly what put Chick-fil-A so far above other fast-food brands. Perhaps it was their closed-on-Sundays policy, their commitment to fresh food, or their various sports partnerships—all of which are proudly listed on their website, right above the 2021 Harris Poll ranking. In our opinion, though, it was probably their waffle fries.

For more on Chick-fil-A, check out:

And don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.

Kaley Roberts
Kaley Roberts is a food writer. Read more