Sure, it’s quick, cheap, and convenient, but consumers are becoming savvier with their food choices, choosing to dine out in restaurants that provide high-quality, fresh food. As a result, some fast food outlets are also fast to lose out on customers if they can’t keep up with the trend. We’ve put together a list of those fast-food chains that are lagging behind. Are any of your favorite fast-food chains on our list?
Now Chick-Fil-A is an Atlanta-based fast-food chain that kicks off our list of the worst fast food. We’re sure there are plenty of folks who disagree and don’t think it should be on our list BUT hear us out! Also, come on, it’s not in the top 10, so really, it isn’t all THAT bad. Anyway, Chick-fil-A is an example that it’s important to know the actual nutritional information before you go ahead and order.
It’s this high up on our list because their Grilled Chicken Sandwich is actually healthier than the majority of fast food meals (unless we get talking about the sodium content, but that’s for another article). Moral of the story: keep your eyes peeled! Consumer Score: 47%
Pei Wei Asian Diner
With a tagline of “Asian Done a Better Way,” we are slightly skeptical – but a quick look at the menu does indeed suggest that Pei Wei Asian Diner is trying a LOT harder than their competitors. With offerings of Cauliflower Rice and fresh poke bowls, we’re blown away at the healthy menu choices! Awesome! However, as healthy as they may be, it is hard to resist the deep-fried, stir-fried, and crispy options.
If you’re conscious of your calories, there are certainly a few things to go for here (cauliflower rice is just as good as rice (well, nearly as good) for 10% of the carbs!), but otherwise, Pei Wei is just like any other Asian food joint. Consumer Score: 46%
With menu items like the “ButterBurger” and “Wisconsin Cheese Curds” being customer favorites, you just know that it’s not going to be exactly “healthy” for you. But we’re not here to shame anybody – eating junk is fine, just not all the time, every day! Though while we’re here, we just want to draw your attention to the fact that while browsing their website, it’s not exactly easy to get to the nutritional info!
There’s a reason for this: one pint of their vanilla Frozen Custard contains enough calories for almost half of your daily caloric intake! (990 calories for anyone wondering – packing 45g of fat and 100g of carbohydrates!) Consumer Score: 45%
Chipotle Mexican Grill
A generous splash of creamy guac, some corn for color, and maybe some rice and beans mixed in for bulk – your Chipotle burrito bowl is looking scrumptiously...healthy? We regret to inform you that in fact, no, your lunch is not very healthy. Whilst there are certain menu options that are on the healthy side of the spectrum, a data crunch by the New York Times revealed that the majority of people’s orders at the Mexican grill are actually not too healthy!
A typical order contains in excess of 1000 calories, which is again half the total number of calories for a DAY. Not to mention the sodium – sure, sodium isn’t totally bad for you, but with meals containing 2400mg a pop, coupled with what’s equivalent to 75% of your saturated fat intake, we’re rethinking Chipotle and considering staying in for dinner. Consumer Score: 45%
According to a recent national survey of regional burgers by USA Today, it seems that Whataburger emerged victorious against its competitor In-and-Out Burger. We’re pretty serious about our burgers, and so are Texans. Folks from Texas seem to prefer Whataburger, whilst those out West tend to prefer In-and-Out. In any case, the burger joint, whilst it may have won over the people, certainly hasn’t won over health experts and dietitians.
Sure, you can get a Whataburger Jr. with Bacon and Cheese for 400 calories, but remember, that’s for a child. And a child’s daily caloric intake is a heck of a lot less than an adult’s! So you do the math. Consumer Score: 44%
So we’re not sure if the fact Arby’s has a repeat customer rate of 44% is owing to the incident that happened back in 2005, where an Ohio man filed a lawsuit against the fast-food operator for more than $50,000. And for what? Well, he alleged that he found a slice of human SKIN on his chicken sandwich. Yeah, digest that! It turns out that an employee had sliced skin whilst shredding lettuce…and the accuser’s sandwich contained lettuce, so… ewww!
Maybe he would’ve had better luck with roast beef. Anywho, customers have also made claims that their roast beef isn’t well… roast beef. We’ll let you decide on that one – just don’t order the salad! Consumer Score: 44%
Sure, Starbucks may be somewhat struggling to get people through their doors for coffee, but um, surely, you’ve seen the memes about basic white girls ordering their pumpkin spiced lattes like they’re going out of style? Yah. We’re starting to think, though, that Starbucks isn’t exactly a place you go to because you LOVE it; it’s more about the sheer convenience of it! And also the fact that some of their holiday seasonal stuff is pretty neat.
We’re not sure it’s really a competitor to the likes of McDonald's or KFC, but all the same, it technically IS fast food. Also, they tried to hush up a case of mistreating two African American customers just last year – it makes sense why they’re on our list now!
A recent consumer report found that about 44% of customers do make the return trip for their chicken wings when it comes to Wingstop’s performance. Famous for its house-made ranch sauce and hand-cut sweet fries, this is certainly a highlight for the majority of diners. But regardless – Wingstop isn’t totally free from criticism! Customers have two major complaints: saltiness and BONELESS “wings.” Yeah, go figure that one out. Sure, if they called them nuggets, we’d be kinda okay (though what’s in the nuggets is somewhat worrying), but not WINGS with no bones.
Maybe we missed the point – but at least they haven’t been criticised for poor quality or freshness, hence why it takes the #33 spot on our list! Consumer Score: 44%
Back in the 1990s (which, FYI, was almost 30 years ago) (we’re all crying) (let’s storm Area 51 and get the time machine), Boston Market gloated at the fact it had over 1100 locations in shopping malls and hubs across the great United States. However, we’re guessing business hasn’t been quite so good, with their numbers dwindling to less than 400 stores. Their main offering is rotisserie chicken, which makes for a simple, tasty dinner for those who are less inclined to put a chicken in the oven! Sure, it’s a convenient idea, but if you don’t do it the best, you won’t get the better share of the market.
Easily replicated, supermarkets started providing their own rotisserie chicken, which sent these guys packing! Maybe they need to look at some new menu items... Consumer Score: 43%
Their slogan says “Fan Food, not Fast Food,” but we’re not so sure, seeing as it’s made our list! With ice cream served upside down, Dairy Queen lovers know the ice cream joint has been serving up their thick serves since 1940! But even Dairy Queen has come under fire – it seems her American subjects aren’t so loyal! Apparently, the ice-cream doesn’t even taste like well… ice-cream – it’s got a plasticky, manufactured taste, and it melts before you can take a photo for IG!
We prefer our ice-cream to be made with fresh milk and cream (or sorbet for our lactose-intolerant friends), so anything other than that just irks us. But the ice-cream isn’t the only menu item that’s sent the public to bad-mouthing the chain – their hot dog looks like “a blown-up Slim Jim in a cold, soggy bun.” Yikes. Consumer Score: 43%
El Pollo Loco
Now you’d think with a name that translates into “The Crazy Chicken,” it’d hopefully be crazy good! However, it seems this is not the case for El Pollo Loco. Founded in 1975 in Mexico by Francisco Ochoa, the fast-food restaurant spent a few years perfecting its flavoring and freshness before opening in the U.S. a mere five years later. But it seems that the chicken man isn’t doing so good these days, with customers complaining of terrible customer service. To be fair, working in fast food isn’t the most glamorous nor the most fun (a lot of the time, it’s the customers who are the rude ones, amirite?), so if they’re a little snappy, we really don’t blame them.
We’re only human! Aside from the “rude staff,” reviewers have left comments about incorrect orders and mix-ups, as well as long wait times. Oh, and the food is bland, flavorless, and just not exciting. There is no pleasing anybody, sorry El Pollo Loco! Consumer Score: 43%
Taco Bell has to be one of the most consistently popular fast-food restaurants in the entire United States. Think we’re wrong? Well, tell that to the 7,000 + locations it has! Pretty amazing stuff. In 2018, Taco Bell was, in fact, voted “America’s favorite Mexican restaurant.” Brava! With the Beefy Chalupa, Nacho Fries, and CrunchWrap ticking boxes for its diners, it seems that there’s also a percentage who don’t exactly agree!
Many diners, in fact, criticize the quality of the food. As far as satiety goes, their burritos leave consumers wanting more, whilst others complain that the food leaves them feeling nauseous and well... yeah, you know what Mexican food can sometimes do! The Taco Bell jokes come in thick and fast, and we’re sure you’ve heard a few! It seems that even the best Mexican is still open to criticism! Consumer Score: 43%
Specializing in Cajun seasoning and fried chicken (we Americans love our fried chicken, there’s no doubting that!), Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits (whoops, we left out the buttermilk biscuits that are served alongside!) is pretty big in the Southeastern United States. Founded in Charlotte, North Carolina, back in the late 70s, the chain is still going reasonably strong, with over 750 locations, 319 of which are company-owned. Sure, the food isn’t too bad, but it’s still ranking on our list because its chicken and biscuits just don’t seem to be charming enough customers through their doors.
Washington Post taste testers really popped a few nails in the coffin with their cutting comments about the Bojangles’ biscuits, saying, “so many carbs, so little flavor. It’s crying out for jam, jelly, anything to distract from the bland-yet-fluffy body. I can taste leavening in this; it tastes like baking soda.” If anyone from Bojangles’ is reading this, please, work on your biscuit recipe! Consumer Score: 42%
Subway’s slogan is “Eat Fresh” (yeah, we hummed the tune in our heads too. Damn catchy marketing!), but we’ve got to say that they’re on our list because, well, freshness has been questioned at the sub sandwich giant. Despite having over 24,000 stores across the United States alone (that’s a lot of subs!) and selling their subs for a fiver, it seems that their menu items just aren’t wooing customers anymore.
In 2018, Subway was forced to close 1,000 stores. But the question is, has the quality improved? We’ll give it a year. If they don’t lift their socks up, well, that’s on them. Subway, the people have spoken! Consumer Score: 42%
“Each one of our Original Krystals features diced onions, tangy mustard, and a dill pickle, all sandwiched between our famously steamed square buns.” Now, does that make you hungry or… reaching for water at the thought of all that sodium? Most frequently, the chain is compared to its competitor White Castle – because both seem to serve up tiny burgers (by US standards anyway)! Corn Pups generally received positive feedback from diners, but it seems the burger joint still has some work to do.
Consumer Reports shared with the media that Americans think Krystal serves one of the worst burgers in the country! With a tiny patty on a big lump of bread, it seems that employees might need to be a little more generous when they’re adding toppings and sauce! Consumer Score: 41%
Nothing like a piping hot pizza delivered to your door – now that we have your attention (because when was the last time you received exactly that when having pizza delivered?), next up on our list is one of the most iconic pizza joints in the world! Pre 2009, Domino’s was in a bad way – customers complained the pizza tasted like… cardboard. Yeah, pretty bad. Others commented that the tomato sauce tasted like KETCHUP. If an Italian tried a slice, we’re sure they’d not be able to digest a bite! Crimes against pizza. It’s a thing. But the power of the people got the execs to smell the pizza and make a change!
The company had a turnaround and worked on improving the flavour and quality of their pizzas. However, things still aren’t quite there, ten years down the track. Consumer Score: 41%
Long John Silver’s
Looooong John Silverrrrrrr’s! Ahoy there all, that’s the smell of the sea alright! The fish and chip restaurant chain is where you go if you want “fresh seafood.” Well, that’s what they claim anyway. We’ll let you decide. Oh wait, the Consumer Reports say you have – and it isn’t looking good for Long John Silver’s. It seems that the restaurant chain flounders helplessly with its menu options and food quality. Instead of serving up nice fresh fish with a light crispy batter, the majority of meals seem to be made of more batter instead of actual fish fillet. Pretty bad, eh?
You’re not exactly getting the Dory you paid for, are you? Add that to the long waits, poor customer service, and you’ve got a whole heap of frustrated diners. Let’s rethink visiting, and maybe spend a little more and get some real fish! Consumer Score: 41%
Consumer Reports came back and showed that 41% of diners returned for more at Taco John’s. It seems the irresistible Potato Olés saw customers coming back, but it seems that that’s about as far as it goes. If you look at the rest of the menu, it’s really not coming up, Milhouse. Salad tacos are glorified lettuce bowls, and burritos are haphazardly wrapped – not like the beautifully tucked-in baby you might be expecting.
Presentation is certainly lackluster, but that is almost a side dish to the main event: the food is extremely salty and greasy. With oil splitting the seams of the taco and “fake cheese,”… god, our stomachs are turning. Thank u, next. Consumer Score: 41%
Hallo and welcome to Wienerschnitzel. As quickly as we’re saying hello, we’re just as quickly saying Auf Wiedersehen to the world’s largest hot dog chain. Sure, it was established back in 1961 and serves over 120 million hot dogs a year (yeah, that’s a real number, folks!), but the company just doesn’t quite get the return business like some other fast-food chains. And the reason? Poor quality food.
Whether it's undercooked or overcooked, or a bun that swallows the filling, Wienerschnitzel just isn’t hitting the mark. Any mark, really. Look, if you’re desperate for a snack, sure, it’s food. But if you want to feel good about it, move along. Consumer Score: 41%
Ah, the good old Colonel. Delivering their famously herbed and spiced chicken since 1952, KFC now has over 22,000 locations worldwide. The fourth-largest fast-food restaurant chain (off locations alone), KFC is just quintessentially American. But despite its strong branding and reputation across the globe, KFC has experienced a bit of a slump in recent years.
From rumors they use steroids to make their chickens grow larger and faster than ever (they’ve been called “Frankenchickens” – geez, we certainly feel like PETA needs to get on this), to poor food quality (slimy chicken…eep!) and just bad customer service, KFC isn’t so finger-lickin' good! We’ll let you decide if you chance upon a KFC restaurant soon. Consumer Score: 40%
Mmm.. nothing like a fresh hot pastry from Cinnabon, eh? Unfortunately, it seems that all the good stuff stops after the smell lures you in. With its warm, sticky-sweet cinnamon buns, the look and aroma are extremely enticing. But it seems that Cinnabon, despite their offerings of sweet pastries and coffee (it seems like there isn’t much to get wrong here!), has been in a bit of a sticky situation of late. With a return customer rate of 40%, it seems they can’t get consumers to... well, stick.
Okay, enough with the sugary sweet puns! Cinnabon needs to, first of all, amp up the customer service and second of all, not serve reheated and stale cinnamon buns – and maybe then they’ll start seeing more customers and more dollars! That’s some advice fresh out the oven. Consumer Score: 40%
Specializing in American-style Mexican cuisine as well as American-style burgers, fries, and shakes, Del Taco does a heck of a lot! But hey, this may be problematic – ever heard the saying “don’t bite off more than you can chew?” From taco combos to cinnamon churros.. and their “carnitas,” Del Taco has quite a varied menu. Sure there’s a Mexican flavor to things, and sadly, it seems that it’s not enough to keep customers coming back. Guests are kept waiting to receive their food, and when said food arrives, it’s usually pretty lackluster.
In terms of flavor and also have a little too much rice in their burritos, Del Taco has been disappointing to customers. But with the rise of vegetarian and vegan options, it seems it’s breathed new life into the business. If you’re feeling vego, why not give it a go? Consumer Score: 40%
Now there’s something that Americans really love for breakfast. It’s doughy, it’s filling, and it’s usually nice and warm. It can be served sweet or with the popular choice of smoked salmon and cream cheese. Yes, it’s a bagel. And a place which does bagels, lots of bagels, and fast? Einstein Brothers! Marketing themselves as a “gourmet” bagel vendor, the chain sees 40 percent of its customers return. It’s not bad, but it’s not amazing. And that’s why it’s on our list!
Reviews have seen the chain slammed for poor bagel quality… nothing worse than a stale bagel! Some have gone as far as to say that grocery store bagels are better! Whoever is on the board really needs to take heed of these comments. Stat. Consumer Score: 40%
Between Krystal and White Castle, there isn’t much of a difference. It also seems that there isn’t much more to love when comparing the chains. But next on our list is White Castle, famous for its petite (they are kinda small!) hamburgers. Now, if we go for a burger, we want a BURGER. Like, a decent, hand-filling, stomach-filling burger. Not one where after a few bites, we’re asking for the main event. Sums it up, eh?
Sure, they’re square, and it’s novel, we suppose, but these are supermarket-style. Don’t get us started on the bland patties. Next time, we’re making burgers at home! And after the Consumer Reports, it seems the majority of diners are too! Consumer Score: 39%
Since 1983, Panda Express has been serving up Asian food to Americans with a taste for the food of the Orient! With over 2,000 stores nationwide, Panda Express is, in fact, the largest Asian restaurant chain in the country! Offering a slightly more gourmet experience (well, that’s what we’re led to believe) than most fast food outlets, there’s also the added “gimmick” of being able to create your own meal. We’re going to bet that’s where McDonald’s got it! Anywho, back to Panda, it appears that the food is actually not that great, and it is overpriced for what you get.
BuzzFeed had something to say, as did chef David Chang, criticizing the restaurant for not being authentic with its menu! David Chang remarked: “Do I gnaw on my own thumb, or do I get the orange chicken?” Consumer Score: 39%
So like as soon as we read “Church’s Chicken,” we immediately think of Kendrick’s “Backseat Freestyle.” No? Just us? Sure, we can’t really repeat the lyric on here because we’re all family-friendly, but definitely check it out. You’ll know. Now Church’s has been around for a while – since the 1950s! Specializing in chicken biscuits and fries, diners were returning for years. Well, that is until recent years, when Church’s was struggling on the return customer KPI.
On the bright side, Church’s Chicken is juicy enough, but it slightly lacks in flavor! Oh, and the biscuits… they serve better food in prison. And it’s free! Anyway, we’ll see if they pick up their game for 2020. Consumer Score: 38%
“Pigtails don’t play when it comes to the fresh, never frozen beef game.” That’s what Wendy’s claims on its Twitter account, anyway! Despite its claims and its commitment to freshness, it seems that Wendy’s rates dismally against other fast-food restaurants. From the ‘finger in chili crisis’ to the more recent live mouse found in a bag of burger buns in 2018 (I mean, at least it wasn’t dead, right?), Wendy’s really doesn’t have a lot of positive energy going for it at the moment.
Time to get out the crystals, fam. But Consumer Reports have shown that due to its marketing approach and advertisements about its fresh patties, it seen more customers through its doors of late! Consumer Score: 38%
Mmm.. pizza. One of the most frequently consumed fast foods in the world, pizza is almost as popular as burgers in the USA! Little Caesars, a US-grown pizza chain, is well known for its simple yet catchy slogan, “Pizza! Pizza!” It doesn’t get much simpler than that, does it, folks? Aside from the marketing, it’s also competitively priced – not many places offer a large pepperoni or cheese pizza for just $5. Compare that to Sbarro, where you’re paying almost $3 for a slice!
For those of you thinking the quality is probably poor for that price, well, you’re not wrong. It seems that at Little Caesars, you get exactly what you pay for…which isn’t much. If you’re looking to be disappointed, look no further. Consumer Score: 37%
Specializing in hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, and milkshakes, Checkers is a family favorite. In the business since 1986, Americans have flocked to the joint for their tasty treats. But it seems that what was once tasty and enjoyable has experienced a serious decline when it comes to quality and flavor. Oh no. Diners complain of long wait times and criticize the burgers for their lack of flavor!
But whilst there’s some negative, if we look on the bright side, customers are enamored with their fries and, specifically, banana milkshakes. We know what we’re trying for lunch! Consumer Score: 36%
Sonic Corp., or Sonic, is one of the most famous drive-in fast-food restaurant chains in the United States. Founded in Oklahoma in the early 1950s, it’s got links to Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, coming under the Inspire Brands banner. Selling cheeseburgers, onion rings, corn dogs, thick shakes, and chili dogs, all from a retro-themed diner, it’s like stepping back in time when you take a bite or a slurp! But whilst it's perfectly cool and themed and fun, it seems that customers just aren’t happy with the freshness or quality of the food being served.
Dry beef just kills a hamburger, and if it has no flavour either, it’s like eating a piece of rubber between two slices of bread. You’d think something so bland would be low in cals, but nuh-uh – 10 of their hamburgers were found to contain over 1,100 calories before the fries or drink. Sheesh! Consumer Score: 36%
This has to be one of the oldest retailers in the fast-food game. A&W was founded all the way back in 1919, serving up burgers and draft root beer and root beer floats. One of the iconic burger chains in the United States, it seems that A&W is, in fact, more popular for its beer than for its food! Hey, at least they seem to be doing one thing right! Sure, the food isn’t amazing, so it’s received some flak for not being as high quality as expected.
Also, customer service seems to be a letdown – not just for A&W but for fast food retailers around the country (and the world, we’re sure!) Greasy fries aren’t great, but hey, at least you can wash down that cup of oil and carbs with draft beer…right? Consumer Score: 35%
Everyone loves something deep-fried and doughy, right? We’re recalling a line from Shrek 2 when Fairy Godmother says she wants something “deep-fried and smothered in chocolate.” Right in the comfort food feels. Enter Auntie Anne’s. Selling doughy treats and particularly hot salted pretzels, the pretzel dealer first opened its doors in Pennsylvania in the late 1980s. Frequently seen in shopping malls, it seems that the death of the shopping mall has signaled the death of the fast-food retailer within the said mall. Damn online shopping!
In order to adapt to the changing retail atmosphere, Auntie Anne’s threw themselves into areas where there were just more people passing through. But it seems that despite a relatively simple, tasty menu item, guests have received stale and burnt pretzels. Seriously, if you do one thing, just do it well, people! Consumer Score: 35%
Toasted subs were the… breadwinner for sub sandwich chain Quiznos. After the company filed for bankruptcy in 2014, it left the dying chain in a state where it was going to be difficult to resurrect. These days there are less than 800 locations in the United States, but we’re not sure they’re going to last all that long! Compared to its main competitor, Subway, Quiznos was struggling – especially after Subway began offering footlong subs for $5! In an attempt to compete, Quiznos offered free sandwiches, but franchise owners were already at a loss and just couldn’t give out free subs!
Anyone ever heard of communication? Yeah, great concept that. Anywho, it seems that there’s still a little life in Quiznos, and whoever is managing the Twitter account, we salute you! “Thinking about a watch party for that #Area51 Livestream? Order #QuiznosCatering”! Nice. Consumer Score: 35%
One of the “Eat Like You Mean It” gang, next up sitting inside our top (or bottom?) 10, is Hardee’s. Popular in the South and Midwest states, it's known for its charbroiled hamburgers and er… questionable commercials. Like it’s a bit 1980s to be using scantily clad supermodels to endorse your products, right? Grow up! We know for sure that your market isn’t just deprived males! Okay, we got a little feisty there, but seriously!
Sure your rivals are McDonald’s but be a little smarter and less obtuse! But we’ve got to hand it to them; Hardee’s actually admitted they weren’t exactly the best with service or with their food. But it seems that instead of changing things, things stayed the same. Disappointing, hence their position on our list! Consumer Score: 34%
Gourmet sandwiches, huh? Opening their doors in 1983, the sandwich giant claims they are “Jimmy Fresh”! But we just want to point out that in their “About Us” section, the first sentence contains an asterisk. Problematic, no? And the asterisked word in question is “all-natural,'' referring to the meats they use. Scroll down, and the disclaimer goes a little like: “all-natural means our meats are minimally processed (except for caramel color on roast beef) and contain no artificial ingredients.” And we had to squint to read short sentences. Ah… no thanks.
Aside from the questionable meats used, they were in hot water regarding an employment contract clause that forbade them from working at other delis for two years after the end of their employment at JJ’s. Oh, and there have been one or two E. Coli and Salmonella incidents. ‘Nuff said. Consumer Score: 34%
You’re in New York City; you’re wandering around Time Square and find your stomach grumbling. You look left, you look right, and ah-a! A neon sign reading “Sbarro” catches your eye. But whilst the food may look appetizing, it’s all summed up in a statement from Neil Irwin of the New York Times: “You eat Sbarro not because you want Sbarro, but because it is the food that is available; at the moment you want some food.” Sure it serves the famous New York-style pizza, but New Yorkers are even scratching their heads as to why it’s there in the first place.
Whilst the pizza is sloppy with cheese that could possibly be fake (?) it’s the cost that surprises us – at almost $4 US a slice, a whole pizza would set you back over $30! Yeah, no, thanks! If you’re still curious, Sbarro can be found at your local deserted mall. Consumer Score: 34%
The American raised global hamburger chain was found in Jacksonville, Florida, and now boasts a whopping 17,896 stores worldwide! Incredible! You’d think that with that number of stores, they’d be onto something – you don’t keep opening stores if your product isn’t good or in demand, right? Most customers walk on through into Burger King for their Whopper burger, but often customers are disappointed!
Reviews generally complain of a lack of toppings with too much onion! Not to mention the dismally sized patty itself. Sure, people who complain are often disgruntled and have something else going on in their lives, but it seems that they’ve done something really wrong to be ranked so poorly on the list! Consumer Score: 33%
Founded in LA back in the early 1940s, Carl’s Jr is “here to serve you. We’re known as the place to go for juicy, delicious charbroiled burgers. Because if you’re gonna eat, you should Eat Like You Mean It.” And that neat little line is trademarked, thank you very much! What began as a hotdog stand became a multimillion-dollar fast-food empire, memorable for its marketing and menu options. Sure, the servings are generous, and in America, bigger is better (right?). But whilst it looks all shiny and new on the outside, customers are complaining.
Oh, and, not to mention, the overtly sexual commercials – come on, we’re not still in the 1940s team! So with the advertisements and alarmingly high level of trans fats used in their meals, you’d be better off having a meal at home! Consumer Score: 33%
Jack in the Box
Now National Cheeseburger Day falls on September 18 each year (and if you didn’t know that, you do with that vital information what you will), and recently, Jack in the Box gave away free burgers this year! The not bad marketing team, not bad at all. But despite the free burgers, for their caloric content, we’d be thinking twice before gobbling one down. Ranking number two in our list of the worst fast-food chains in America, Jack in the Box received a low rating from consumers.
Apparently, food quality is poor, but hey, when you’re eating deep-fried tacos, isn’t it about the deep fry and less about the filling? Regardless, keyboard warriors united online, describing their tacos as “a wet envelope of cat food.” Meeeow! Consumer Score: 33%
Ah, those famous golden arches. You really can’t round a corner in America without seeing one of the famed fast-food restaurants or a sign directing you to the nearest one! Whilst it’s the most popular on our list, it also rates the worst too! Sure, it does volume better than any other fast food joint, but it seems that with high quantity, the quality does indeed decrease. Customers these days are increasingly savvier with regards to the freshness and taste of their meals, and it seems McDonald’s just isn’t delivering.
Though things are Mc Changing (see what we did there?), with the company using patties made from 100% USDA certified beef. But if you’ve stepped into a McDonald’s recently, you’ll notice a push to the “healthier” grilled options. But hey, if you go past McDonald’s, you’re going to want your chicken nuggets or a Big Mac.. please, let us indulge in peace. Consumer Score: 28%
Panera Bread has a name that makes you think there's something special about their baked goods. Well, we've checked. There's not. Their broccoli cheddar soup "bread" is probably the most successful thing on the menu. But other than that, their sandwiches and soups are just ok.
Best you stick to your smaller neighborhood bakery, or better yet, try to make your own at home; the internet is full of broccoli cheddar soup copycat recipes.
There's nothing wrong with a cheap fast-food chain pizza slice when you're really hungry unless it's Papa John's pizza, that is. It's quite baffling that it's still around. They owe it to all the indebted college students for keeping them in business.
It's basically low-quality cheese on a soggy crust...and if that isn't bad enough, they serve it with a small container of oil as if the pizza isn't greasy enough. What are they really trying to do to us?
Chuck E. Cheese
Chuck E. Cheese was the closest thing to heaven to every 90's American kid. Everyone wanted to have their birthday party there so they could gain cool points from their peers. Their pizza, games...what else would you need, right?
Wrong! It's not until you get older and have to go to a Chuck E. Cheese as an adult that you question your taste as a child. The pizza is below average, and what the heck is up with that giant rat walking around? Get me out of here!
Moe's Southwest Grill
If you're from the south, you're familiar with the "Welcome to Moe's!" greeting you get as soon as you step foot in one of a Moe's chains. There's nothing like that southern hospitality... but there is something like...real Tex-Mex! And with all due respect, you won't find that at Moe's.
They probably won't be going out of business anytime soon because the locals love it. But as for the rest of us, you might as well settle for Taco Bell.
Zaxby's is a fast-food chain that serves chicken wings, chicken fingers, sandwiches, and salads. Luckily for us, they're only located in the South.
Rumor has it that Oklahoma is already closing down several of their Zaxby's restaurants. You can keep this one southerner; the rest of the U.S. is already flooded with subpar chicken joints.
Duck Donuts started as a small niche doughnut shop in Duck, North Carolina. The chain's popular for its customizable, made-to-order doughnuts, but also for their other baked goods. Duck Doughnut had expanded to over 80 locations across the U.S., and like other small restaurant chains that expanded... the product just isn't the same anymore.
Fans have complained that the dough has a different texture, and their iconic coffee tastes different as well. And get this- they're not even based in Duck anymore, but in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania! So maybe it's the State's fault.
Blimpie has always been the weaker Subway in our opinion, so it's not surprising that other consumers think similarly. The lettuce always looks old, and the tomatoes are soggy. At least they toast their bread a bit to give the illusion that it's fresh. The best items on their menu are the cookies, but they can't even take credit for them because they're Pillsbury's.
Really, get it together, Blimpie. Don't you want customers?
Oh, Baskin Robbins. There probably know other American ice cream chain that just takes you back to childhood...trying to choose which flavor you want to taste this Sunday, because your parent will only let you have one scoop, but there are 31 to choose from. If only those were our problems as adults.
Fast forward to 2020, Baskin Robbins has lost a lot of its magic. There are thousands of 'BR' chains around the world now, and perhaps this mass production is the reason why it has lost the charm it had decades ago. It's just like any mainstream ice cream parlor now. At least we still have our memories.
Steak 'N Shake
Steak 'N Shake milkshakes are thick and sweet in the perfect way, and people doe for their stick-thin fries if you're into those types of fries. But the name of the place is pretty misleading...
Where's the steak? And if they call that lame piece of meat they throw in-between store-bought buns a steak, we'll see they should be sued by steak lovers for defamation. Yes, it's that serious.
Charley’s Philly Steaks
This Ohio joint is famous for its Philly Steaks, crispy fries, and lemonade that is actually made from real juice lemon juice, and boy, don't the locals love them some good ol' Charley’s Philly Steaks, but that's where it ends.
Honestly, if you want to eat real Cheesesteak, then it's best you just go to Philly. Columbas, Ohio, can try all it wants to replicate the magic, but anyone that has had the real thing knows it doesn't compare. Save yourself the disappointment.
While we don’t think Shake Shake is terrible, but we do have a problem with the high reputation. It’s truly overrated and doesn't justify the 45-minute wait at its Madison Square Park location in NYC.
The burgers are fine, but that's it. fine. And don't get us started on the size of the burgers. That absolutely does not justify the long wait in line.
One of the most over-hyped burger joints on our radar. Smashburger may advertise trendy burgers with avocado and truffles that make for colorful Instagram posts, but they're mediocre at best.
They try to market some of their food items as healthy, but they are usually far from it. So, don't ditch your diet and try to live off of these if you're watching your figure. You might as well be eating a MacDonald's burger with a few more topping options.
CiCi’s Pizza is a buffet-style chain restaurant that offers pizza, pasta, AND chicken wings... usually, when a place has that many "specialties," you know at least one of them will be a bit off.
In Cici's case, none of the options are practically good. So, honestly, you can just pass on altogether and check out what there is to eat up the street.
like many of the other fast-food chains on our list, Dunkin’ Donuts has increased its prices over the years, and to be fair,it hase made a few positive improvements to its menu as far as the quality is concerned. Nonetheless, Dunkin' Donuts really needs to slow its roll.
In recent years, they've tried rebranding themselves and are now just "Dunkin'” as opposed to “Dunkin’ Donuts.” but they're still as basic as they've always been and don't stand out among any local niche donut shop.
When was the last time you came across a fast food restaurant that exclusively sold chicken strips? I know, right?! Raising Cane’s has become one of the fastest-growing fast-food chains in the country thanks to their unique concept. BUT that's not to say that they don't have a couple of major problems. Visitors often complain about their slow service.
...so much for "fast food." Another major problem customers complain about is that the wings preparation isn't consistent, so the taste changes from location to location. You have to know where to go if you want the good ones.
Our favorite thing is combining Pizza Hut take-out with a fatty order from KFC (or Taco Bell). Hey, don't knock it 'til you try it), and then go into a food-coma. For some odd reason, the pizzas served in Pizza Hut's chain stores simply don't compare to the order-out pizzas. Can someone explain this?
But that may be the reason why they're losing business. Pizza Hut chains across the nation and the world have been closing down one after another. Someone help them get it right!
With a name like "Fatburger," you basically know what you're getting yourself into it; you can only imagine how much grease and fried food they have on their menu. Fatburger practically tells us how many pounds we'll gain after our meal by naming their burgers by how much they weigh.
To be honest, their burgers are pretty good for a fast-food chain, but they're on our list for scaring the general audience with their name. Bad marketing!
If you're not from the West Coast, "Animal Style" and "Double Double" probably don't mean anything to you, but for some reason, everyone seems to know about In N Out.
Personally, we don't get the hype. You must have had to grow up with them to truly appreciate their food. The burgers are just "a'ight," and their milkshakes are decent.
The Five Guys burger chain officially has the "bougie rights" of saying they're Zagat rated. Most fast-food consumers don't even know what that means, but hey, they sure seem proud of it.
All it really means is they probably change their deep-frying oil every 3 days instead of once a week like lesser quality fast-food chains, so, if you're in the mood for some "fine-dining" but don't want to break the bank, then see if they're one in your area.
Unless you were living under a rock, you have most likely heard of Popeye's famous chicken sandwich controversy. For some unknown reason, people were literally standing outside their restaurant chains for hours trying to grab one of these bad boys. We say 'unknown' because nothing could possibly be that good. Their chicken sandwiches would sell out by noon, leaving the people still waiting in line for them in tears.
If their sandwiches are that good, you're probably wondering why Popeyes even made our list. Well, we're sure they're putting some kind of addictive narcotics in their food to have people that hooked on them, and that's a no, no.
Whether you love it or you loathe it, Chili's is an inevitable given in life. It's there when you crave it, and it's there when there's nowhere else to eat, and you're starving, that giant Chili in the sky leading you home. But thanks to their questionable preparation technique, liberal use of salt, and unappealing plating, you could get a stomach ache instead.
Chili's menu blew up in recent years as the chain tried to keep up with the latest food trends and offer something for all tastes, but all they've done is overwhelmed their customers.
On the surface, Olive Garden may appear to be pretty straightforward, with unlimited breadsticks as an option; eating there may seem like an easy choice, but why bother when there are so many authentic Italian restaurants available that serve good quality pasta?
While many love them, Olive Garden is seen by some as the epitome of a dining mistake. It might be a busy chain, but it's sure to be one that most foodies try their best to avoid.
Casual dining can be nostalgic, but if you think Applebee's is nostalgic, then you might be mistaking nostalgia for being the most basic of basic chain restaurants.
American cuisine culture has always been fickle, but people with means don't want to eat a heap of fried foods with no nutritional value. If you want to avoid sketchy food that's not worth your while, don't eat at Applebee's!
TKK Fried Chicken
Just as we were getting used to Korean food, along came Taiwanese-style chicken. Yes, they may offer something else but do we really need another version of fried chicken?
Here's a tip, stay away from their chalky curly fries. With drinks that are sickeningly sweet and chicken that is terribly oily, you might be better off trying someplace else.
Champs Chicken can be found in gas stations and convenience stores spread across the country. The reality of Champs Chicken calling a dingy gas station home doesn't automatically make it a bad eatery; what makes Champs Chicken bad is the fact that they have terrible food.
Champs somehow manage to undercook the skin on their chickens while overdoing the meat. The result is mealy and fatty skin encased around bland slivers of chicken. Rather go a few extra miles and spend a little bit more cash to find an alternative worth trying.
Ruby's is breaking our hearts—quite literally. They're on this list because it's so difficult for us to find any information on their dishes' nutritional value.
We'd like to think that Ruby would want her customers to be healthy enough to eat at her restaurants for the future. But if Ruby doesn't want to disclose vital information just because it isn't the picture of health, then they're doomed.
If you go to Denny's for breakfast, you might with high expectations and leave quite underwhelmed. While we give Denny's due respect for moving toward serving cage-free eggs by 2026 in all of their locations, they're among one of the many fast-food chains that still serve meat that's loaded with antibiotics.
In fact, they have made no public policies regarding antibiotic use in their supply chain.
Uno Chicago Grill
It shouldn't come as a revelation that Uno Chicago Grill, home of the legendary deep-dish pizza, is also home to many more dishes that pack over 1,000 calories. Let's take their Cobb salad as an example; it totals 900 calories with more than an entire day's fat and nearly an entire day's worth of salt!
And their Mega Size Deep Dish Sundae contains a belt-busting 2,700 calories! That's the calorie match to 14 Krispy Kreme donuts! Finding something to order at Uno that won't derail your weight loss efforts is like looking for a lost ting at the beach; it's basically impossible.
The Foodservice industry is changing, and it seems that pancakes can't keep up. It wasn't too long ago that IHOP dominated the breakfast scene. There's one uniting theme among a lot of popular diets, from paleo to Whole 30 to keto, and that's that carbs are the enemy.
That's not great for a restaurant mostly known for pancakes and waffles. And given the national-debt-level calorie counts on much of its menu, it's easy to see why IHOP is struggling.
The Cheesecake Factory
The Cheesecake Factory probably wouldn't want us taking too close a look at the nutritional content of their food because they are quite aware of just how bad it is for us. They don't even publish nutritional information on their website.
It wasn't until the government intervened and state legislation demanded complete disclosure of nutritional information that the Cheesecake Factory finally released the numbers. The best strategy for survival at this eatery is to run in the complete opposite direction before you decide to enter.
We couldn't steer clear from P.F. Chang's plain indifference for the nation's collective blood pressure. There was a report published on Chang's hot and sour soup, which contained a tremendous 7,980 milligrams of sodium (that's equal to 39 packets of salt)! When checked again, their soup had been reformulated, and now it contains 9,600 milligrams of sodium!
After skimming through the rest of their menu, we found over 30 menu items that pack more than 3,000 milligrams of salt—which is already 500 milligrams above the recommended daily limit.
On The Border
Nowadays, anyone can log onto any restaurant's website to get all the nutrition stats they might want to see before making an order. This is definitely a win for those healthy-minded individuals and those looking to keep an eye on their gut. But On The Border's nutrition guide doesn't provide any information on trans fat or sugar, which are quite important when considering health.
So is this a mere coincidence? Probably not. If we had to speculate, this was probably a calculated move to assure those who care about health aren't scared off. And guess what? When they're shady like that, then it's a sure sign they're stuck in the medieval ages.
California Pizza Kitchen
When is a delicious pizza not appealing? The pizzas from California Pizza Kitchen are advertised as delicious, but the thing is, their pizzas aren't anything special.
And when it came time to eliminate partially hydrogenated oils from all their products, they were dragging their feet. They even had to recall their frozen pizzas a few years ago after discovering little plastic pieces in the pizzas. Yikes!
All has not been favorable for this American dining-chain these past few years. It's been plagued by everything from questionable business ventures to shifts in American dining habits.
What used to be a reliable spot to find American comfort food is now an inconsistent eatery where the food is often more disheartening than comforting.
Buffalo Wild Wings
Few foods are as typically American as buffalo wings, but that's not providing much solace for this chain.
Originally founded in Ohio, Buffalo Wild Wings is an international chain that currently operates more than 1,200 locations around the world, but lately, their branches have been closing.
Hooters may have been a trailblazer back when they opened their first location in 1983, but the business isn't booming anymore for the orange and white purveyor of wings and cleavage. There's some speculation that the drop in sales is due to decreased interest in objectifying women in today's increasingly progressive climate.
Many people feel uncomfortable when going to Hooters, so imagine what it's like being a waitress there? Care for a side of uneasiness with your chicken wings? We didn't think so.
Back in the 1980s, TGI Fridays was a rather pleasant spot to eat at, but the times, they are a-changin'. TGI Fridays appear to have a menu that echoes the question, "Exactly how many items can we drown in Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey?"
With not much more to offer, the current sentiment seems to be that this casual dining franchise is overdue for extinction.
There's nothing super about anything at Souper Salad. It used to be a reasonable place for a quick meal, but its quality has gone noticeably downhill over the past few years. As their name suggests, they mainly offer all-you-can-eat soup or salad, but what you get is outrageous.
Ultimately, whichever soup you select will be a letdown. Some Souper Salads also hold a taco bar, but it's not worth risking, either. The cheese tastes synthetic, the chips are musty, and even the salsa is watered down and bland.