There are many fast food chains to choose from out there; and while we all have our favorite restaurant to go to, there are some chains that have that little something extra. While they may not be the biggest or well known fast food chains, all of them have a big cult following. Here is our list of 10 Fast Food Brands With A Cult Following. Some of the entries may surprise you.
10. In N Out Burger
In N Out Burger has converted many fast food fans to fall in love with them. Often getting them to pass more popular fast food chains in order to get to them. In N Out Burger wins over it’s fans by simply making great, tasty food. The rise of the In N Out brand reached fever pitch when they started to expand their franchise into other states. People actually stood in line for hours, waiting for this Californian based burger chain to open. Why has In N Out Burger built up such a cult following you may ask, well that’s simple. In N Out pride themselves on their burgers and fries. They make their burgers fresh and not from pre-formed shapes or frozen patties. They also make their fries from potatoes and actually cut the potatoes in front of you. Keeping their food fresh and simple is quite a novel approach to fast food and In n Out Burger is rewarded by their devoted fans. Also, there is the fact that the restaurants, and even the uniforms, haven’t changed in decades. In N Out Burger found what works for them and have kept it the same, much to their adoring fans. Then of course there is their ‘special sauce,’ which people will que for hours just to get a taste.
9. White Castle
We are all familiar with the famous look of White castle. Those castle chain fronts adorn our towns and make us think of great fast food. Famous for their sliders, which are small burgers that you can eat like popcorn, White Castle were actually one of the first restaurant chains to franchise the idea of fast food. While many people give credit to McDonald’s and Roy Kroc as giving us the modern fast food model, it was actually White Castle that got there first. Not just content on serving great burgers, White Castle has been featured in media and it made a splash in pop culture when they had an entire movie dedicated to them. The movie was called “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” and like the name implies, it’s basically a movie about a couple of friends making their way to a White Castle, and all the hijinx that ensue along the way. The movie boosted White Castle’s cult credibility to a whole other level and really put them on the map in a much larger way. While White Castle is popular with a lot of people, it has become a haven for a certain type. Known as ‘Cravers,’ White Castle found it’s target audience among the late night snackers and those looking for a tasty treat when ever the mood takes them. White Castle food has become so popular that you can even buy it in your local grocery store, if you can’t make it their restaurants that is.
In the world of fast food, one chain has dominated the fried chicken market for decades and that’s KFC. When ever you wanted some tasty, or ‘Finger Lickin’ good’ chicken, you would go to your local KFC and grab a bucket. In recent years that has all changed as another chicken restaurant has won over an army of fried chicken fans. Chick-Fil-A has built up a real loyal fanbase and their customers are not ashamed to say that they make the best chicken in the world. It’s not only Chick-Fil-A’s fans that are fanatical, their staff are also devoted. Their unofficial motto is ‘ If you don’t plan on working here for life, don’t apply.’ That is some devoted chicken workers. As well as great chicken and enthusiastic employees, Chick-Fil-A is also known for it’s family values. Most, if not all, of their franchises are owned by couples or families and the head office believes in these values so much, they make sure all of the chains are closed on Sundays. These values seem to resonate with customers and makes them truly loyal to them. Chick-Fil-A may not be a global franchise like other chicken joints, but they have certainly massed an army of die hard fans that will sstay with them forever.
7. Sonic Drive-In
If you live on the West Coast then you will be hard pushed not to have heard of Sonic Drive-In. If you haven’t seen their restaurants then you definitely would have seen their commercials. Boosting the best shakes, Slushies and most delicious burgers on the market. If you don’t live on the West Coast, then it may be time for a little road trip. Sonics Dive-In is most famous for it’s carhop style restaurant. Driving up, ordering you food and then having it brought to you by their carhop waiting staff, sometimes on roller skates. Sonic Drive-In has the feel of a fast food joint from the 40s or 50s, which is great for anyone looking to experience life from a simpler, and cooler, period of history. Not only is their style unique in the fast food world but some of their food has truly reached cult status. While their burgers and fries have people racing to their nearest Sonic, it’s their drinks that most people really love. With thousands of flavor possibilities for their drinks, the number one drink flavor is their Cherry Limeade. Made with fresh limes, the Cherry Limeade is the perfect blend of sweet, sour and bubbly. With a Slushy version of this drink, as well as all their other drinks, Sonic Drive-In also has a happy hour in which their drinks are half price. These are just some of the reasons why Sonic Drive-In has become such a cult favorite with fast food fans.
Their are many rivals in the fast food business; McDonald’s and Burger King, KFC and Chick-Fil-A, Pizza Hut and Dominos and now we come to Whataburger. Being the main rivals to In N Out Burger, Whataburger caters to its cult fanbase by rewarding them with free coffee mugs. The can keep tabs on just how loyal their fanbase is by changing the design of the mug each year. Unlike all other fast food chains, Whataburger actually encourages you to come in, take your time and enjoy yourself. While they serve you fast food, Whataburger don’t want you to just eat and go, they want you to enjoy their restaurants. As well as giving away free coffee mugs and welcoming you to stay in the restaurants for as long as you want, Whataburger also holds free burger days once a year in which they get to show off their great tasting, and freshly made, burgers. The rise of Whataburger’s cult statues also has a lot to do with their popular culture presence. Just like fast food chains such as White castle, Whataburger has enjoy some success on screen. Being the main fast food chain in TV shows such as King of the Hill as well as being the inspiration for the Nickelodeon movie Goodburger, Whataburger received a big jump in popularity during the 1990s and they continue to be a popular choice for many people looking to avoid the big name brands and eating somewhere a little more intimate.
‘Where’s the ‘Beef?’ Wendy’s has seen a big rise in it’s popularity over the last few years, so much so that it has actually over taken the likes of Burger King in the burger chain wars. While this rise in financial and commercial success may change some brands, Wendy’s has still managed to maintain its cult-like status. Known for the home style and ‘old fashioned’ style of food, Wendy’s first won over their fans with menu items such as the Baconator, and of course their infamous Frosty. Unlike a lot of big fast food chains, Wendy’s never uses frozen meat for their patties which may not save on time but it does save on flavor and taste. The famous square burger patties have won over a lot of fans that would normally go to one of their burger competitors. So, whether you are one of Wendy’s hardcore fans or if you are just an occasional Frosty buyer, Wendy’s will quickly become a big part of your fast food needs. I think we know where the beef is. Another sign of Wendy’s cult status is the amount of cosplayers who will dress up as the aforementioned “Wendy”, whether it’s at the restaurant itself or at other events, you can often spot a Wendy somewhere. You know you’ve hit cult favorite status when their cosplayers involved.
While Starbucks may have opened their first coffee shop in Seattle in the 1970s, it was in the 90s that the Starbucks brand really reached popularity and cult status. As the country was changing moving towards a new popular culture landscape, Starbucks found itself as the face of this revolution. Offering customers a wider and more divers range of caffeinated beverages, Starbucks’s popularity exploded and they soon became one of the biggest brands in the world. While the Starbucks brand has truly conquered the world, the Seattle based coffee chain still manages to maintain its cult following. One of the best ways they do this is by having the customers be more involved with their orders. Having us tailor our drinks to include any flavors or ingredients we want rather than just ordering a generic menu item. Then of course there are those special items that Starbucks gives us. All true Starbucks fans knows about their secret menu and the special drinks and foods we can order. If that wasn’t enough then Starbucks goes even further and releases its annual festive drinks. The Pumpkin Spiced Latte and the Gingerbread Latte have become drinks of legends. Both of them virtually have a national holiday as the countdown to their release has become as big as the countdonw to Christmas itself. These are just a few reasons why Starbucks has kept its cult like status among coffee fans the world over.
3. Dunkin Donuts
Now,on our list of fast food brands that have a cult following, we come to the kings of donuts, Dunkin Donuts. Seen as a major rival to the likes of Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts has some truly die hard fans that refuse to go anywhere else. While they may not be on the same global scale as their rivals, in fact, Dunkin Donuts has actually just closed a lot of its world wide stores and has even completely left some countries, such as Canada, completely. However, focusing pretty much solely on the US market, Dunkin Donuts has upped its game and the fans have noticed. As the name suggests, Dunkin Donuts is famous for its donuts and other baked goods. After all, America runs on donuts. While Dunkin Donuts started out as a coffee and donut place, over the years they have expanded their menus and offer many tasty treats for either breakfast or lunch. The key to Dunkin Donuts success is how they have captured that early morning rush and fuelled the workforce for the US and helping them start their day. With several revamps and re-brandings over the years, Dunkin Donuts has maintained its heart and core purposes that fans love an it has them coming back every morning.
When Subway first opened its doors back in the late 1960s, people were blown away by the freshness of their ingredients, the deliciousness of their sandwiches and the fact they get to be served by a ‘sandwich artist.’ Not only that but the ‘sandwich artists make the subs in front of you and you can add any toppings or salads you want. The idea was a bit of a revolution and had people lining up to get their hands on a Subway sub sandwich. So much so that Subway soon found themselves becoming the biggest fast food brand in the world, with more restaurants and branches than the kings of fast food themselves, McDonald’s. While the Subway brand may have peaked a few years ago, they still have a legion of loyal fans and their cult status is set for life. Due to some commercial embarrassment, some bad advertisement, and one disastrous spokes person, Subway have taken a hit over the last few years, but their brand recognition and their faith in their fresh and tasty ingredients, Subway has managed to keep its brand at the fore front of the fast food industry and their fans seem happy to stick by their favorite sub sandwich joint. Another important part to Subway’s cult status is their 5-dollar footlong campaign. Not only is it a great deal, which always creates a large following, but the TV ads all features the oh so catchy jingle that people find themselves humming at any time of the day, so they constantly have Subway on their mind.
1. Chipotle Mexican Grill
The concept of fast food has been part of our culture for generations. Quick, cheap and tasty food, those pioneers of the fast food trade changed everything. Recently however, there has been a new sub-section to the fast food genre that looks set to shake things up once again. Fast – Casual, which is a cross between dinning and fast food, is fast becoming the new way to eat. While fast-casual doesn’t offer full table services, it does promote better food options and healthier ingredients than its fast food relatives. One of the champions of the fast- casual food movement is Chipotle Mexican Grill. It all started in Denver in the mid 90s when Chipotle wanted to give us fresh, farm sourced food that had no preservatives or any of the bad stuff. Soon Chipotle Mexican Grill blow up in popularity and started franchising across the country. The Chipotle brand quickly became the new bench mark for tasty, healthy and exciting food. We know its hard to imagine a time before Chipotle Mexican Grill, but that just goes to show the power of their brand and the loyalty of their fans as looking back, the world didn’t seem the same with out them.