Wendy’s & Panera Bread Co. Most Popular Fast-Fooders

Outback Places First Among Full-Service Chains

McDonald’s Wins Fry Face-Off; Wendy’s Bags Best Burger; Chick-fil-A Chicken Champ; Subway Tops For Healthy Options; Surveyors Cite Cleanliness As Biggest Irritant

NEW YORK, May 11 /PRNewswire/ — Zagat Survey today revealed the results of the first Zagat/Today Show Fast Food Survey and the 5,535 participants hailed Wendy’s as Queen of the Fast-Food Mega-Chains, and Panera Bread Co. as the Most Popular Overall. For Full-Service Chains, Australian-themed Outback Steakhouse won for Popularity and Top Food. Forty-five chains were surveyed, with voters weighing in on everything from pizza to poultry, burritos to burgers and salads to subs. The winners were announced live on The Today Show this morning, with the full results released on ZAGAT.com.

To Your Health: With the increasing public scrutiny over the nutritional value of fast-food in the last few years, from Fast Food Nation and Super Size Me to the latest trans fat debates and e.coli scares, health was certainly on the minds of Zagat surveyors. Ninety-three percent report being somewhat or very concerned with the fat and calorie content of fast-food. In the same vein, when asked how the banning of trans fats in fast-food restaurants would affect them, 96% of surveyors say they would eat out the same amount or more. And in the search for Healthy Options, sandwich specialist Subway struck surveyors as the best bet.

According to Tim Zagat, CEO of Zagat Survey, “Not all fast food restaurants are created equal-nor were they meant to be. Some are better at burgers and others are masters of milkshakes.

This survey reveals what fast-food restaurants are doing right, and where there’s room for improvement. The big challenge right now is the public’s concerns, expressed by 93% of our respondents, about the industry’s health standards.”

Where’s The Beef? The old school “Where’s The Beef?” campaign has paid off for Wendy’s in the long run, as the self-proclaimed “old-fashioned hamburgers” chain garnered 30% of the best burger votes compared to 22% for Burger King and 13% for McDonald’s. Wendy’s also snagged the No. 1 spot among fast-food mega-chains (i.e. those with at least 5,000 outlets) for Food, Facilities and Popularity. Among Overall Fast-Food Chains, the fresh breads, soups and sandwiches at Panera Bread Co. secured the top spots for Overall Popularity, Food and Facilities.

Full Service Please: Surveyors also voted on full-service chains. Australian-themed Outback Steakhouse was named Most Popular as well as Number 1 for Food; Cracker Barrel cleaned up, winning for Facilities and Service, and Applebee’s, with its Weight Watchers menu items, led for Healthy Options.

Fry Face-Off: In the French fry face-off, McDonald’s won easily with 63% of the vote, compared to just 10% each for runners-up Burger King and Wendy’s. Surveyors, by a 74% vote, also named McDonald’s the Most Child-Friendly fast- food chain.

Here A Chick There A Chick: The “best chicken in fast food” belongs to Chick-fil-A, who won by a beak over KFC, with 29% of surveyors crowning it the chicken champ, while 28% remained loyal to Colonel Sanders. Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits was third in the pecking order, with 16% of the vote.

Shake-It-Up: No surprise here, Dairy Queen was awarded the crown for its milkshakes with 36% of the vote, followed by McDonald’s (16%) and Sonic Drive- in (13%).

So Many Choices, So Little Time: Despite nutritional concerns, 79% of surveyors say taste is the most important factor in choosing a fast-food restaurant, while 49% are more concerned with price/value. Among the full service restaurants, 86% report that the food matters most, followed by service, at 50%.

Irritants: Surveyors spoke loud and clear about the biggest irritants associated with fast-food dining. Cleanliness was the main irritant, (cited by 49%), nutrition consequences (cited by 47%), food quality (38%), service (37%), and noise (16%).

Other findings: As for surveyors’ favorite fast-food, Burgers/Fries ranked first with 39%, followed by Subs/Sandwiches (19%), Mexican (15%), and Pizza (13%). In the mascot/spokesperson showdown, McDonald’s Ronald McDonald reigned supreme, winning 25% of the vote, while Subway’s Jared Fogle, who lost 245 pounds on a diet of Subway subs and exercise, finished second, with 19%. Gaining on Jared was Jack, from Jack in the Box, with 18%, followed by Burger King’s The King at 13%.


Fast-Food Mega- Fast-Food Overall Full-Service Chains

Chains Chains

Most Popular: Most Popular: Most Popular:

Wendy’s Panera Bread Co. Outback Steakhouse

Top Food: Wendy’s Top Food: Panera Top Food: Outback

Bread Co. Steakhouse

Top Facilities: Top Facilities: Top Facilities:

Wendy’s Panera Bread Co. Cracker Barrel

Top Service: Subway Top Service: Chick- Top Service:

fil-A Cracker Barrel



Best Chicken: Chick-fil-A

Best French Fries: McDonald’s

Best Hamburger/Cheeseburger: Wendy’s

Best Shakes: Dairy Queen

Most Child-Friendly: McDonald’s

Favorite Mascot/Spokesperson: McDonald’s-Ronald McDonald

Favorite Fast Food: Burgers/Fries

OUTTAKES: Voter comments our lawyers say are not suitable to print.

“Instant obesity.”

“It’s hard to tell where the food stops and the Styrofoam containers


“The only healthy thing about the place is the exit door.”

“Try the ‘compressed cat cutlet’.”

“Good tasting, until the left ventricle finally gives out.”

“Love the cheese-flavored plastic!”

“E.coli is free with every order.”

“They should be cited for posing as a restaurant.”

“Best consumed drunk.”

The Survey: For full results, including top lists plus ratings and reviews for all 45 chains surveyed, see our Fast Food and Full Service reports available on http://www.zagat.com/.

About Zagat Survey, LLC

Zagat Survey is the world’s leading provider of consumer survey-based leisure content. With more than 300,000 surveyors, Zagat Survey rates and reviews restaurants, hotels, nightlife, movies, music, golf, shopping and a range of other entertainment categories. Zagat content is available in print, on the Web, on the Palm and Windows Mobile operating systems, on BlackBerry, on mobile phones, and on TV. For more information, visit ZAGAT.com.

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