Fast-food restaurants have been the home of simple dates for decades. Whether you’re rolling through a drive-through to grab some dinner on the go or sitting down for a proper happy meal with your partner, fast food can create some of the most memorable moments of your time together.
We wanted to get insight into what couples enjoy eating on those summer drive-through dates and how those preferences change regionally, so we set out to find the most popular fast-food burger restaurants and menu items in every state.
The Most Popular Fast-Food Burger and Burger Restaurant in Every U.S. State
In all of our research, there were only three states whose favorite fast-food restaurant matched up with their favorite fast-food burger. Arizona and Nevada, two of the few states with In-N-Out locations, love an Animal Style Burger and a Double-Double from In-N-Out, respectively, like no other. And, no surprise here, Texas has an affinity for Whataburger’s Patty Melt.
Hover over any state on the map above to see its favorite fast-food burger restaurant and menu item!
The Most Popular Fast-Food Burger and Burger Restaurant in Every U.S. Region
Locals remain loyal to the fast-food chains that originated in their areas. We aren’t sure whether it’s the delicious ButterBurger on a toasted bun or the frozen custard that keeps people coming back, but Culver’s (originating in Sauk City, Wisconsin) is among the most popular fast-food burger spots in the Midwest. According to residents from Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin, Culver’s is the go-to spot for fast-food burgers.
No surprises here: In-N-Out is the most popular fast-food burger joint in the Western U.S. The burger chain, founded in Baldwin Park, California, is a cultural phenomenon that’s only found in select U.S. states, but its popularity reaches far beyond those borders. It’s the most popular fast-food restaurant among residents in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah, which is saying something, considering Hawaii and Idaho don’t even have In-N-Out locations! West Coast locals love its burgers, signature sauce, and not-so-secret menu.
Perhaps it’s the unlimited amount of peanuts or the mouthwatering burgers… You won’t leave Five Guys hungry, but you might find yourself craving more. Five Guys comes in as the most popular fast-food restaurant in the North, South, and Midwest regions. Ranking in 29 states as the most preferred fast-food restaurant, it’s obvious that Five Guys both dominates our map and is the true go-to fast-food burger joint nearly everywhere in the U.S.
When it comes to specific fast-food burgers, there’s a little more variation. The Midwest prefers Burger King’s classic Whopper, Western U.S. states opt for the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder, and down South, they most enjoy the Big Hardee Burger at Hardee’s. The Northeast can’t quite make up its mind, with a tie between the flagship sandwiches at Wendy’s (Dave’s Single), McDonald’s (Quarter Pounder), and Burger King (Whopper). With new menu items coming out every week at many fast-food restaurants, it looks like people across the country still prefer the classics.
The Most Popular Fast-Food Burgers and Burger Restaurants Overall
As has already been made evident, Five Guys is the most popular fast-food burger joint in the U.S., being the preferred option for residents in 29 different states. The second-most-popular place to get a burger is In-N-Out, which is quite the feat considering it’s only available in seven states, as of 2020. Culver’s and Whataburger round out our list, being home to the favorite fast-food burger of residents in five and three states, respectively.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the most popular specific burgers at these locations.
The McDonald’s Quarter Pounder is the top-searched burger in the United States, with nine states seeking out its four-ounce patties. The Big Mac is another signature McDonald’s burger that ranks among those that are most popular. It consists of two burger patties, three sesame seed buns, and, of course, its famed Big Mac sauce. It’s the third-most-popular burger in the United States, being searched for the most in Alaska, Washington, D.C., Maine, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Two Burger King favorites are also well represented in this category. The first is the Whopper, coming in as the top-searched fast-food burger in a whopping eight states (Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Tennessee). The second is a newer menu item, the Bacon King. This burger features two quarter-pound beef patties, cheese, and lots of bacon. It is the most searched in Mississippi, Nebraska, and New Hampshire.
Hardee’s wasn’t kidding when they said “More Meat, More Cheese, Less Money.” Designed to compete against burgers such as the Big Mac and the Whopper, Hardee’s introduced the Big Hardee Burger. The burger features three beef patties and two slices of cheese on a 4-inch bun. The Big Hardee Burger placed fourth among the top fast-food burgers in the U.S. and was ranked the most popular in Iowa, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
To find the most popular fast-food restaurants and menu items across the country, we first surveyed Americans from every state (over 2,000 in total) asking them which fast-food restaurant has the best burger. The survey took place over a week in April 2022. We then compiled a list of 90 named burgers from fast-food restaurant menus and analyzed Google Trends data from April 2021 to April 2022 to see which specific fast-food burgers people have been searching for most frequently. The keywords we analyzed included favorites such as Burger King’s “Whopper,” the McDonald’s “Big Mac,” and the Wendy’s “Baconator.” Combining the survey results and search data, we found each state’s favorite fast-food restaurant and favorite burger bite.
We here at Shane Co. understand that everyone’s love language is unique and that some individuals express their love through food. Whether that be cooking, fine dining, or a quick bite at a local fast-food restaurant, every occasion is special when you’re spending time with the person you love. After all, it’s not about where you’re going or what you’re eating, but who you’re with that matters. When you’ve found the person that makes even a trip to a burger joint a journey to remember, Shane Co. has the engagement ring selection to ensure you find the perfect ring.