The world gets through a lot of fast food. Whichever way you spin it and wherever you are on earth, the numbers involved are simultaneously staggering and slightly disgusting. In America alone, for instance, some stats suggest that diners chomp their way through a whopping 50bn burgers a year - working out an average of three sandwiches every week. Small wonder our waistlines are getting bigger.
Though we’re all suckers for an occasional limited offer, fast food businesses know that their bread and butter comes from a few hero items. These fixtures have become so popular over the years that they have redefined pop culture and influenced modern food like little else on earth. Small wonder we buy so many of them.
7. Pizza Hut Pepperoni Pizza
Operating in over 16,000 locations world wide, Pizza Hut is the world’s largest pizza chain. Given that we order an estimated 3 billion pizzas per year in America alone, this is an industry that clearly pays. According to a Facebook post from Pizza Hut themselves, their biggest seller is their signature pepperoni, making this easily the most popular pizza on earth.
6. Starbucks Americano
You’d be hard pressed to find a country on earth that hasn’t been invaded by Starbucks. With over 28,000 worldwide stores, the coffee giants are clearly getting through a great many beans on a daily basis. Though the menu has expanded to include all sorts of odd tasting concoctions, Starbuck’s best seller is still the standard Americano. Though there are no official figures for how much they sell, we know that they get through over 4 billion cups per year, thanks to information on their own website. Not even accounting for coffee drunk in store, it’s clear that the world is drinking a lot of Americano.
5. KFC Original Recipe Chicken
Wherever you were born, we all speak the global language of fried chicken. Perhaps that explains how KFC has gone on to become the world’s fourth largest fast food brand. The star of the KFC show is undoubtedly their original recipe chicken, which famously features a secret blend of 11 herbs and spices. In 2006, when the business was significantly smaller than it is today, KFC announced that they were selling 1 billion chicken dinners a year. Since that number can only have gone up, KFC chicken is clearly a serious seller.
4. McDonald’s Happy Meal
No business has exploited the fast food franchise model as effectively as McDonald’s. Though it is today universally popular, at the heart of McDonald’s success has been its innovative approach to marketing. After being introduced in 1979, the Happy Meal has gone on to become one of the world’s favourite fast foods, selling a whopping 1.2 billion boxes a year. It’s unlikely that the brand would be where it is now without it.
3. Burger King Whopper
Though obviously wildly successful in their own right, Burger King have always had to live in McDonald’s shadow. One thing that the fast food giants will always have over their arch rivals, however, is the rights to “America’s favourite burger”. The Whopper has been a revelation ever since it was first introduced in 1957. According to Burger King, the business sells an enormous 1.3 billion of these sandwiches every year.
2. Big Mac
In the never ending battle between iconic burgers, Whopper vs Big Mac is about as big as it gets. Everyone has their personal preference, so there’s very little to choose between them. When it comes to sales, however, the Big Mac just pinches it. With over 550 million sold each year in the US alone, this signature sandwich is the undisputed best selling burger on earth.
1. McDonald’s French Fries
With so many fast food legends on display, it would be easy to forget the unsung heroes of the franchise. Accounting for an astonishing 75% of the business’s global revenues, McDonald’s French fries are far and away the biggest selling fast food item of all time. With more than 9 million pounds of fried potato sold in McDonald’s every day, this is one item deserving of its place at the top of the tree.
It’s easy to understand why we’re so obsessed by fast food. It’s delicious, easy and cheap - a real trifecta of tastiness. But, given some of the numbers above, perhaps it’s time we reined it in a tad. In the long run, all those chips can’t be a a good thing.