Although fast-food restaurants occasionally offer major updates to their menus or tweak their formula in a noticeable way, you can usually expect the same standard fries every time you visit. Chick-fil-A has the waffle fries, Arby’s the curly fries (or crinkle-cut, if you’re feeling adventurous), and most major fast-food restaurants have their spin on regular fries. But which major chain has America’s favorite french fry?
According to CivicScience’s latest data, the battle for the top spot isn’t particularly close: McDonald’s is a runaway winner with 50% of the vote among adults who eat fast food. No other chain garnered more than 15% support, with Wendy’s (15%) and Chick-fil-A (14%) in second and third place, respectively. Save for KFC (2%), every chain polled drew nearly one-tenth of the vote or higher.
Burger King overperforms with Gen Z fast-food fans.
A recent CivicScience report looking into Gen Z’s fast-food preferences found Chick-fil-A to be their favorite fast-food chain, with McDonald’s ranking close behind in second. But when it comes to fries, Gen Z is team McDonald’s alongside all fast-food fans – even if they spread their interests around a bit more.
Despite Burger King coming in last place with Gen Z among fast-food chains polled, Burger King fries perform second-best among Gen Z adults – outpacing those from their favorite overall fast-food chain, Chick-fil-A. Those famed waffle fries perform the best with fast-food fans aged 25-34, while Wendy’s polled best among the youngest and oldest respondents (17% each).
Which style of french fry cut leads the pack for Americans?
Regular fries are the preferred cut for over one-third of french fry fans, with curly fries placing second at 22%. But somewhat surprisingly, interest in different styles of french fries is a bit more evenly distributed than preference between each chain’s fry offerings, where McDonald’s has a significant leg up. The gap between first and second – and between first and the other styles of cut, which all range between 7-13% – is much smaller than the gap between chains.
There are obvious overlaps between fans of each fast-food chain fry and fans of each style of fry. It’s no surprise that Arby’s fans are the most likely to prefer curly fries and crinkle-cut fries, or that Chick-fil-A fans disproportionately opt for waffle fries. But overperformances among fast-food restaurants that typically offer regular fries could be worth monitoring. Steak/wedge fries polled especially well with KFC and Wendy’s fans, and curly fries were the most popular choice among Burger King fans – so there might be new terrain for a number of these chains to explore.
French fries are one of life’s true certainties for Americans – a QSR staple that can accommodate dietary restrictions better than most popular fast-food items. And with that comes strong preferences in both chain and style. McDonald’s and regular fries comfortably lead the charge, but those who prefer more outside-the-box french fry cuts are especially faithful to places that line up with their taste.
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