Road trips are an essential part of summer vacation. Even before the pandemic put a hamper on air travel, vacation road-tripping was on the rise in the U.S. This year, with the summer season riddled with rising cases of infection with the Delta variant, the trend is still going strong: a recent nationwide survey of U.S vacationers found that 20% had canceled flights in favor of driving. It also found that 90% of those surveyed planned on traveling to their vacation destination by car.
An essential part of getting on the road, in turn, is fast food. Who hasn’t given in to the temptation of a quick burger or burrito stop four hours into a ten-hour car ride? For some (particularly those who don’t eat fast food often) the mandatory, mid-journey “service station” stop may provide as much enjoyment and fulfillment as the vacation itself.
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In light of the current popularity of road tripping, and on the heels of a Labor Day weekend dominated by car travel, FinanceBuzz decided to dig into the data on America’s favorite fast-food joint for a road trip pit stop. The publication conducted a survey of 1,200 U.S. adults, asking them to rank ten fast-food chains in order of preference.
So, what is America’s preferred road trip restaurant? Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s McDonald’s. Raking in nearly 23% of the vote, Mickey D’s stood head and shoulders above the competition, none of which managed to crack 20%. Chick-fil-A claimed a distant second place, with 7.74% of the vote, while Wendy’s and KFC took third and fourth, with 6.91% and 6.49%, respectively. Burger King snuck into fifth place, with 5.41% of the vote.
The results of the survey become even more interesting when the population is broken up by gender and generation. For example, while men and women both chose McDonald’s as their top road trip restaurant (and did so by substantial margins), the groups had completely different second- and third-place picks. Women opted for Wendy’s and Chick-fil-A, while men pulled for KFC and Burger King.
Generational data revealed that McDonald’s has much to celebrate—its popularity was particularly striking among the younger generations. Support for the chain from Gen Zers (McDonald’s received 38% of the Gen Z vote) was greater than support for any other fast-food chain from any other generational group. Another fascinating takeaway: Boomers were the only age group to vote for Arby’s, which received 5% of the Boomer vote.
Given that McDonald’s has 13,446 locations to Chick-fil-A’s 2,699 (and Wendy’s 5,865, for that matter), the results of the survey are hardly surprising. But they do reveal some subtle, and fascinating, differences along the gender and generational lines. So next time you’re picking a pit stop, make sure you poll the car before settling on Mickey-D’s.
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