Here we go. This year’s most coveted rankings are set, and will be rolled out over the next month. There are some shakeups this year, make no mistake. In fact, there’s only one restaurant that stayed at the same position it held last year, and it’s in this portion. The major shifts will be addressed as their names are called up, but I will say that Starbucks emergence onto the scene has to be the headline story.
This is the first year Starbucks has qualified in the category of fast food, because of their increasing food options, so that was sure to cause ripples. As for this portion, the bottom of the top 20, the big story has to be KFC’s steady fall in the rankings over the last few consecutive years. The chicken superhero has been “too big to fail” for some time, but is rotting from the inside.
Review of ranking system: 4 categories, ranked on scale of 1-10. Taste (The quality of the food made), Value (How much weight in food can your dollar buy), Variety (How expansive is the menu) Reputation (Brand recognition & power)
#20-16, #15-11, #10-6, #5-1
Check out the 2013 fast food top 20: #20-16
For some reason, every year I encounter people who vigorously swear by their devotion, loyalty, and appreciation of Arby’s. It has recently come to light these people are actually trolls, who possess a hunger for human flesh, and who go around in disguise. What is equally remarkable is the amount of money these trolls are apparently willing to pay for fast food roast beef, given the pricetags on some of Arby’s ‘meals.’
Hardee’s/ Carl’s Jr. (+1)
I crusade against Hardee’s marketing model every year, but they’re still using it, so it must be doing something right. Their ploy of selling themselves to young males, almost exclusively, by regularly portraying scantily clad models devouring their burgers has been as much of a staple as 800 calorie sandwiches over the past few years. You certainly can’t fault their focus, even if it fails in broad appeal.
Is it officially time to hit the panic button over at KFC headquarters? When was the last time they were relevant in satisfying your fast food craving? Can you name a single signature dish they have? We all love their seasoning, but right now KFC walks and talks like a pitiful dinosaur: one of massive size, but who nonetheless appears near extinction.
White Castle (-0)
White Castle retains nostalgic appeal. And when there’s not a whole lot else drawing people to fast food, that works strongly in their favor. Not much innovation to look for, not much excitement, not even great taste. Yet White Castle has the rare privilege of employing those usually devastating flaws to enshrine it’s iconic, cult identity.
Panda Express (-3)
Panda Express tumbles in the rankings again this year. But don’t sleep on them. Panda is still fairly new to the fast food game, and reigns as the uncontested champion of Chinese fast food. Holding a relatively competition-free niche could pay huge dividends down the line if the higher ups do their job in navigating Panda Express to continued growth.