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These 5 Major Chains Have the Fastest Drive-Thrus In America, Data Says

Latest data found these to be the speediest window-service chains out there.
MEDICALLY REVIEWED Clipboard BY Mura Dominko

Since the drive-thru service was first introduced to the American fast-food scene, it has been a way of life for many a consumer. Whether a convenient dinner option grabbed while heading home from work, an efficient way to get a bite and keep moving during a road trip, or as a safer option than in-store dining during a global pandemic, the drive-thru service is a convenience we take for granted.

And in fact, we've now done so for one hundred years. The first drive-thru restaurant in America opened in 1921. It was called the Pig Stand and it started off as more of a drive-in, with meals delivered to parked cars rather than handed through a window. Ten years later, in 1931, a Pig Stand franchisee operating in Los Angeles began to offer window service akin to that which we know today. In the 1940s, In-N-Out opened up and initially focused on a quick drive-thru service.

Surprisingly, it wasn't until 1975 that McDonald's opened its first drive-thru. Today, the chain reports that well over half of its revenue comes from window service, according to Small Business.

If McDonald's could speed up its drive-thru service just a bit more, it might see those revenues grow, too. But as it is, the Golden Arches are just edged out of being in the top five fastest drive-thrus in America today, according to Motor1.

Since the drive-thru is all about convenience, it's all about the speed of service, too. Here are the major chains that operate the fastest drive-thrus, based on the latest report. For more, check out The One Change You May Notice at McDonald's Drive-Thru.

5

Burger King

burger king drive thru
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According to data put together by market research company SeeLevel HX, the average time a customer spends in the Burger King drive-thru before they get to have it their way and get underway is 344.3 seconds or 5.7 minutes. For reference, BK edged McDonald's out of the top five by a mere five seconds, with the McD's drive-thru experience averaging 349.3 seconds.

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4

Carl's Jr.

carls jr drive thru
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A mere three seconds faster than the Burger King drive-thru lane, customers at a Carl's Jr. can expect to spend 341.6 seconds of their lives between the time they enter the lane and leave with their Angus Thickburger or Really Big Carl.

3

Hardee's

hardees drive thru
Shutterstock

Carl's Jr.'s sister company Hardee's manages to operate quite a bit faster than their counterpart, shaving exactly 21 seconds off their drive-thru wait times, with customers in and out in 321.6 seconds.

2

Taco Bell

taco bell drive thru
Shutterstock

According to SeeLevel HX's data, Taco Bell customers spend 310.2 seconds in the drive-thru lane, which equates to just a hair over five minutes. This is not only 10 seconds faster than at Hardee's, but is also an improvement on the chain's own drive-thru times from 2019, according to Motor1.

1

KFC

kfc drive thru
Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images

If time is a serious factor for you, then seriously consider hitting up the KFC drive-thru, the fastest of them all, according to SeeLevel HC. Customers average just 283.3 seconds there, which is more than a full minute faster than at Burger King.

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Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more