Top Ten Largest Fast Food Chains in the World

Sometimes the convenience of fast food is hard to beat. People are becoming more and more busy every single day and are constantly searching for ways to become more efficient. One way people do so is by eating fast food, which is constantly increasing in popularity. Fast food is considered an American staple and has existed in some form since the early 1940’s. Now fast food is taking the world by storm and is quickly expanding into other areas of the globe. Take a look at the top ten largest fast food chains in the world  based on total number of stores:


Sonic Drive-In

Number of stores: 3,500

Perhaps one of the most unique fast food chains on this list, Sonic Drive-In features the use of carhops of roller skates to deliver food to patrons. Serving more than 3 million customers every day, Sonic Drive-In has expanded rapidly in the last 20 years. Although Sonic Drive-In was founded in the early 1950’s by Troy Smith in Shawnee, Oklahoma, the company wasn’t incorporated until 1990 in the state of Delaware. Currently there are not any international locations, but Sonic Drive-In does operate in 43 states.


Taco Bell

Number of stores: 6,450

Every single year in recent history, Taco Bell has sold more than 2 billion tacos and 1 billion burritos. Added together, the total number of food items sold is nearly equal to half the world’s population. Founded by Glen Bell in 1962 in Downey, California, Taco Bell expanded quickly. The first franchise was opened in Torrance, California two years later. By 1967 there were already more than 100 restaurants. Now with more than 6,450 stores and 175,000 employees, Taco Bell is one of the largest fast food chains in the world.



Number of stores: 6,650

As made apparent by many commercials over the years, Wendy’s was founded by Dave Thomas in Columbus, Ohio in 1969. Wendy’s is currently the third largest hamburger fast food restaurant in the world behind Burger King and McDonald’s. After rejecting two buyout offers, Wendy’s finally merged with Arby’s in 2008 under Arby’s parent company Triarc. Unlike both Burger King and McDonald’s, Wendy’s does not have a signature sandwich. Instead they are known for using square patties, which are made of fresh ground beef and are never frozen. Interestingly enough, Wendy’s was named after Thomas’ fourth child Melinda Lou “Wendy” Thomas.


Dunkin’ Donuts

Number of stores: 10,000

With more than 2.5 million donuts sold daily, Dunkin’ Donuts literally offers more than a thousand different types of donuts around the world. Dunkin’ Donuts legacy was started in 1950 by William Rosenberg in Canton, Massachusetts and has since expanded operations around the world. A fact most people don’t realize is Dunkin’ Donuts primary competitor is Starbucks as a result of nearly 50 percent of Dunkin’ Donuts revenue coming from coffee products.


Burger King

Number of stores: 11,000

An estimated total of 2.8 billion burgers are sold by Burger King on a yearly basis. Founded in 1953 in Jacksonville, Florida, Burger King was originally known as Insta-Burger King until a year later when two franchisees in Miami purchased the company and renamed it Burger King. The Whooper has been an integral part of Burger King’s menu since it was first offered in 1957. Over the years Burger King has done a good job of adapting their menu based on location. In the United Kingdom, Burger King offers the Piri Piri Chicken Sandwich which comes with tangy tomato and a red wine vinegar- based sauce.



Pizza Hut

Number of stores: 11,500

Pizza Hut was founded in 1958 by two brothers Dan and Frank Carney in their hometown of Wichita, Kansas and quickly expanded into the surrounding areas. Today, Pizza Hut offers consumers dozens of choices of toppings and pizza styles. Some of the options include Thin N’ Crispy, Hand-Tossed, Stuffed-Crust, and Pan pizza. Some of the international Pizza Huts have gotten quite creative with their menu options. In Pakistan, Pizza Hut sells a pizza stuffed with spicy BBQ kebabs. In Egypt, you can order a crust option which resembles a crown which contains meatballs, cream cheese, or both.



Number of stores: 18,000

Originally founded in 1930 by Harland Sanders in North Corbin, Kentucky, KFC regularly serves more than 12 million customers on a daily basis. Ironically, the chain’s largest store isn’t located in Kentucky. In fact, it is located in Qian Men, China and has seating for more than 300 patrons. Like most fast food chains on this list, KFC adapts their menu based on location. For example in Vietnam, KFC offers fried taro pies instead of apple pies and in Malaysia they offer tom yam chicken, which is chicken marinated in lime juice, chilies, and lemongrass.



Number of stores: 22,000

Starbucks is one of the fastest growing fast food companies in history and is the largest coffeehouse company in the entire world. Founded in 1971 by Howard Schultz in Seattle, Washington, Starbucks started as a coffee bean roaster and retailer. Since 1987, the company has averaged two new stores being opened somewhere in the world every single day.



Number of stores: 34,000

Although not the largest fast food chain in the world anymore, McDonald’s is still probably the most recognizable. The golden arches have evolved into a universal symbol, easily spotted and identifiable around the world. McDonald’s serves nearly 68 million customers per day in 119 countries around the world. The company was founded in 1940 in  San Bernardino, California by Richard and Maurice McDonald. McDonald’s is often attributed to being the inventor of the drive through system, which was originally called the “Speedee Service System” when they put it into service in 1948.



Number of stores: 40,000

Subway is the largest fast food chain in the entire world. Based on current estimates, Subway operates in a total of 102 countries around the world and has over 40,000 locations. Founded by Fred DeLuca and Peter Buck in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1965, Subway has quickly become the largest chain in the world and is still expanding at a rapid pace. The number of Subway locations surpassed the number of McDonald’s locations at the end of 2010. and has since opened an additional 6,000 restaurants. The popularity of Subway is often attributed to its combination of affordability, convenience, and healthy menu items.


Featured image: Flickr by (vincent desjardins)

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