There was a clear winner for America’s most popular fast food restaurant, according to a joint study by Business Insider and Foursquare. The results showed that the chicken chain won 39 out of 50 states, including Indiana.

To determine the results, Foursquare looked at which chains received the most visits on average per location in every state, based on the total number of visits to each chain, divided by the number of locations in that state.



Rachel Cowin, the marketing director for the McGalliard Road Chick-fil-A in Muncie, says that the results “make sense.” As a marketing major and now a marketing director, she has learned about the culture of the restaurant and feels like this put Chick-fil-A on top. 

She says that the employees are trained to love people and make customers think of Chick-fil-A as a “destinational restaurant” rather than just another fast food chain. 

“We teach them how to to make an impression at the register,” Cowin said. “So instead of just ‘you’re welcome’ it is, ‘No, it is my pleasure to serve you, I love serving you, I love helping you, I love making you feel good.’ They’ll ask you how you’re doing. They’ll ask you how your day is going. Because we want it to be an exceptional experience for every single person.”

She says although the food is a definite drawing card, the customer service is what makes the restaurant so popular and makes people want to come back.

“We call ourselves the Disney World of restaurants and that’s what we try to be,” said Cowin. 

However, many fast food franchises and fast food fans aren’t convinced with the study results, partially because Chick-fil-A did not have an overwhelming victory last year.

Rebecca VanMeter, an assistant professor of marketing at Ball State University, says that while the study uses a “convenience sampling” technique, by only tallying those who use the Foursquare app, this can make the results not “holistically representative.”

“You can’t really say that it’s inaccurate, you can just say it’s not representative of the population at large,” VanMeter said. “So you have to very specific and careful about how you talk about that data.”

She says that since not all fast-foodies use the app, such as as different age groups, it is just the most popular restaurant for Foursquare users in 39 out of 50 states. 

“I visit Chick-fil-A and I would say it’s the one I visit the most often, but I don’t use that app, so people like me don’t respond,” Vanmeter said. “Unless Foursquare has a population of people that use it that is the same of the population in the United States, an equal number percentage of people from each of the different demographic targets in the United States, then you can’t say it is representative of the population at large.”

Regardless of these results, a June study by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index found Chick-fil-A to earn the highest customer satisfaction rating over all other fast food and full service restaurants, including Panera Bread and Papa John’s that tied at second.