The Worst Fast Food Chains In America

With Americans always being on the go, what better invention is there then the fast-food restaurant? It’s a cheap yet quick way to pack on some calories for your day. Much to the dismay of the industry, fast-food chains are starting to lose their luster. Trends are moving towards quality, fresh food. With so many chains struggling to meet these demands, customers are not coming back like they used to. A Consumer Picks survey tallied up consumer scores of the most popular restaurants in America based on customer loyalty. Continue and find out which places fair the worst, you’ll be surprised at the results.

No Fun For Cinnabon

a clear view of cinnabon
cinnabon/Instagram
cinnabon/Instagram

You can bet that many guests that consume Cinnabon are in the mood for freshly-baked pastries. The problem is that only 40 percent of their customers return for more. The company is struggling to survive, so they’ve tried to spice up their brand.

Still, not many are biting. On top of that, the quality of food and service at Cinnabon gets bad reviews. Having “rude employees” makes it hard for people to support consistently. Reheating the goods instead of giving out fresh ones also discourages folks.

How Appetizing Is Del Taco?

dishes from del taco
deltaco/Instagram
deltaco/Instagram

People always murmur that Del Taco isn’t real Mexican food. While that may be true, everyone needs to remember that it’s fast food. Still, there’s more to why only 40 percent of customers return to the diner.

Many believe that the food at Del Taco is merely unappetizing. They put too much rice in the burritos, and the meat lacks the desired flavor. Thankfully, they’ve recently added Beyond Meat in hopes to satisfy customers in the coming years.

In The Mood For Einstein Brothers Bagels?

a close up
einsteinbros/Instagram
einsteinbros/Instagram

They might advertise “gourmet” bagels, but the restaurant often receives bad reviews for mediocre food quality and freshness. There’s nothing gourmet about that. When you compare the taste of their bagels to those from grocery outlets, customers choose their grocer a majority of the time.

Consumers also came down hard on their customer service and coffee. One thing that should be universally known is never to give folks lousy tasting coffee. That mixed with bad service is a no-go.

Time For A Tiny White Castle Burger

an image of white castle customers
whitecastle/Instagram
whitecastle/Instagram

While White Castle may be famous for its tiny burgers, that could also be the restaurant’s downfall. Many complain that the size of the burgers doesn’t fill them up, forcing them to buy more than one.

Another complaint is that the buns feel like they’re from the supermarket. With the buns being larger than the meat, it doesn’t help that there are issues with the patties tasting too much like onions.

Eat Fresh?

subway-sandwich
Pinterest
Pinterest

Formerly called Pete’s Super Submarines, Subway is one of the fastest-growing food chains in the world. In 2017, the brand achieved 42,000 locations in over 100 countries. But despite their rapid expansion, most people seem to visit for convenience. Only 42% of customers return for seconds.

Consumers complain that Subway’s bread overpowers the rest of the sandwich, and often, the bread isn’t even toasted. They’ve also been criticized for rude servers, small portions, and a slow wait time.

All Aboard The Panda Express

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officialpandaexpress/Instagram
officialpandaexpress/Instagram

Panda Express has more than 2,000 stores in America, making it the largest Asian food chain in the nation. You might be able to create your own meal, but do you really want to eat so-so Chinese cuisine?

BuzzFeed once invited those of Chinese descent to have Panda Express for the first time, and the results weren’t pretty. They recorded the event and Chef David Chang said, “Do I gnaw on my own thumb, or do I get orange chicken?”

The Chicken From Church’s

still of churchs
churchschicken/Twitter
churchschicken/Twitter

They aren’t Popeyes, nor are they KFC. Church’s Chicken rests below the top tier fried chicken places, and for a good reason. The fast-food chain struggles to bring back customers when there’s more than likely a KFC nearby.

Shockingly, customers describe the biscuits as being rock hard. That one critique is enough to scare away visitors. Church’s does plan on improving things in 2019 in hopes of getting on people’s right side. We’re going to have to wait and see what happens.

What Will It Take For You To Have Wendy’s?

While Wendy’s might have a plethora of treats that can be alluring, the numbers don’t reciprocate that. Many still remember the live mouse found in a bag of burger buns in 2018. And you can’t forget about that “finger in chili” crisis from 2005.

It’s like the only thing they have going for them are their spicy chicken nuggets, but they always pick and choose when they have them available. Customer do appreciate that their patties are “fresh and never frozen,” though.

Little Caesars Pizza Pizza!

two slices of pizza
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Little Caesars outdid every other pizza place when they began selling a large cheese or pepperoni pizza for only $5. Have you ever heard the phrase “you get what you pay for”? If not, then it applies here.

Little Caesars might say their products are fresh and high-quality, but customers don’t feel the same at all. From the toppings to the sauce, their pizza’s can taste “off.” Some have even gone as far as to say the pizza tastes like cardboard!

Is Checkers Really Your First Choice?

fast food chain
checkersrallys/Instagram
checkersrallys/Instagram

Since 1986, the fast-food chain Checkers has specialized in hot dogs, french fries, milkshakes, and hamburgers. The most significant pain point for Checkers is that their service is too slow. Customers complain that employees take forever, even when there is no one else to serve.

Another issue that people have are the “tasteless” patties. They also say that they put a “giant flavorless” pieces of lettuce which do nothing for the burgers. The compliments they do receive stem from their fries and banana milkshakes.

Sonic Has The Desserts

outside of sonic
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

It’s hard to resist the overall theme of Sonic Drive-In. Not only do they have a surplus of tasty desserts, but they also have a happy hour during certain times of the year.

Their biggest gripe with customers is that their hot dogs, hamburgers, chili dogs, and corn dogs don’t taste fresh. Their foods pack the regular ingredients but often taste unseasoned and dry. Another complaint is that their lettuce takes up too much space on the burgers.

Rootbeer Float, Anyone?

a&w restaurants
awrestaurants/Instagram
awrestaurants/Instagram

Immediately once you discover that A&W has a fast-food chain, you start to question. “Do they only serve rootbeer flavored items?” That is a valid inquiry, but there are more significant issues at hand this establishment.

You won’t see many complaints stemming from the beverage side of things, but the food quality gets burned a lot. Guests say the fries are questionable and greasy. Some even go as far as to compare eating the fries to drinking a cup of oil.

Who’s Down For Some Pretzel Magic?…

woman sitting crossed
auntieannespretzels/Instagram
auntieannespretzels/Instagram

Auntie Anne’s is similar to Cinnabon in that they both sell sugary, doughy treats. The pretzel shop first opened in 1988 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and now you can find them in pretty much every shopping mall.

With fewer people taking the time to go out and shop (online shopping is all the new rage), Auntie Anne’s has lost some business as a result. The main things people complain about are the stale and burnt pretzels they sometimes give out.

How Tasty Does A Sub Sound Right Now?

Quiznos sub
Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images

When it comes to quality sub making, Quiznos doesn’t fall short. Their food is rated well, and you can make it however you wish. What’s not to like there? Sadly, the chain filed for bankruptcy in 2014 and went from having 5,000 stores to only 800 across the country.

Well, what’s the issue there? Their biggest problem is that they’re too expensive! When Subway began selling footlongs for $5, Quiznos failed to keep up the pace.

Don’t Be Too Hard On Hardees

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hardees/Instagram
hardees/Instagram

Known for their charbroiled burgers and provocative advertising, Hardees finds a way to keep a few customers running back. Mainly located in the south and midwest states, Hardees has had a history of feuding with other chains like Jack in the Box and KFC.

Instead of competing with them, they should have stayed focusing on keeping their paying clients happy. In 2003, they launched a campaign revealing they were aware of their terrible service and nasty food. Still, their dirty dining areas and poor service upset people to this day.

Can’t We All Get Along With Jimmy John’s?

jimmy johns dog
jimmyjohns/Instagram
jimmyjohns/Instagram

Known for their “Freaky Fast, Freaky Fresh” slogan, Jimmy John’s has had a slew of bad luck. In 2016, they forced their employees to sign a non-compete clause, not allowing them to work at other delis until two years after their tenure with Jimmy John’s.

Not only that, but the chain also caused several food poisoning outbreaks. In 2008, 2009, and 2010, people got sick from either E. Coli or salmonella after eating a sub from Jimmy John’s.

Might As Well Grab A Slice!

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Tumblr
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Thanks to custom pizza shops like Blaze Pizza, a chain such as Sbarro doesn’t get as much traction as it used to. Not only that, but people complain about the lack of freshness when they bite into a Sbarro pizza.

“You eat Sbarro not because you want Sbarro, but because it is the food that is available at the moment you want some food,” said Neil Irwin from The New York Times. He couldn’t have said it any better.

Who’s Got Beef With The King?

a burger king whopper
burgerking/Instagram
burgerking/Instagram

As one of the classic burger joints in America, Burger King manages to bring in customers off the strength of their name alone. No one is going around telling people they have to try the new Whopper. They have, however, added tacos and the Impossible Burger to their menu in an attempt to excite their fanbase.

Still, consumer confidence is not high. Their ratio between the burger’s toppings isn’t always accurate. They’re another place where the onions dominate the taste.

Who’s In The Box? Jack!

a display of their food
jackinthebox/Instagram
jackinthebox/Instagram

If there’s anything that Jack in the Box has going for them, it’s the round-headed mascot who’s facial expression rarely changes. Do you really want their two tacos for 99 cents? Not even serving breakfast all day didn’t help their ratings, either.

People on social media describe the food as “a wet envelope of cat food” and flat out “vile.” While this all may be true, there are still people who can’t resist the tacos even after admitting they’re gross.

The Golden Arches

drive thru
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

McDonald’s might be the most famous fast-food restaurant on this list, but that isn’t always a good thing. Remember when rumors spread they were using pink sludge for their meat? They may be able to sell a ton, but the quality is lacking.

They might advertise patties that are 100 percent USDA-inspected beef, but they are ranked the lowest in freshness and food quality. A Buzz word or phrase that customers like to use when describing McDonald’s burgers is “hot mess.”

Arby’s Doesn’t Have The Meats For Everyone

arbys fast food ratings
Tim Boyle/Getty Images
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Known for its larger than life roast beef sandwiches, Arby’s sees a return customer rate of 44 percent. Not helping the restaurant’s cause is a widespread rumor that their meat isn’t meat at all, but instead made from a paste or powder.

There has also been one instance of a customer claiming to have found human skin in their sandwich. Even it it wasn’t true, the news still continues to hurt business today.

Starbucks Is Struggling For A Reason

An American coffee company and coffeehouse chain Starbucks store and logo seen at the People's Square Station in Shanghai.
Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Despite being a major coffee chain, Starbucks is struggling to receive more customers. Why? Because the brand is no stranger to controversy. Remember when a barista called the cops on two black customers in Philadelphia, 2018? Others haven’t forgotten that.

On top of that, more and more nutritionists are advising against Starbucks. The pastries and sandwiches aren’t as healthy as they seem. Hence, even Starbucks in malls receive little food traffic nowadays.

How Are Wingstop’s Wings?

drumsticks in a Wingstop box
Pinterest/Dominique Crocker
Pinterest/Dominique Crocker

Out of everyone who has gone to Wingstop, only 44% return for their boneless wings, fries, and ranch. Reviewers complain about the food’s saltiness and heaviness. However, they do deserve praise for their house-made ranch and sweet fries.

The chain’s boneless wings tend to drown in salt, which is why many customers don’t like the meals. On top of that, the chain has high prices and iffy sauce options. But if you’re in the mood for salt and house-made ranch, give Wingstop a visit.

Get Some Boston Market While It’s Still Open

Boston Market is seen May 6, 2016 at Northgate Plaza in Aspen Hill, Maryland.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

During the 1990s, over 1,100 Boston Market restaurants served customers across the U.S. As of 2018, that number has lowered to 400 stores. Boston Market offers customers a makeshift American home meal, including rotisserie chicken and plenty of Thanksgiving dishes all year-round. However, it seems like their former strength is now their downfall.

Over time, grocery stores offered their own rotisserie chickens and Thanksgiving sides. Customers now had the same product, but cheaper. Not to mention that the chain fails to meet the demands of vegan options.

It’s Time To Usurp The Dairy Queen

U.S. Senate candidate and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY) (R) holds a
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Dairy Queen has been serving blizzards and upside-down ice cream since 1940. But despite its long service, many customers poke fun at the chain. They say that Dairy Queen ice cream tastes too much like oil and melts too quickly to be real dairy.

But Dairy Queen’s worst reputation surrounds their food. Their hot dogs are soggy, they burger patties are burnt, their buns are squishy. They’re received plenty of criticism for frequently undercooking their chicken.

Yeah, El Pollo Loco’s Chicken Is Crazy

El Pollo Loco in Fullerton, California, is sporting a new look that included a grey and black color theme
Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images
Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

El Pollo Loco first opened in Mexico in 1975. The U.S. didn’t receive a taste until 1980, but after a store opened in Los Angeles, the chain rapidly expanded. The store’s name means “The Crazy Chicken,” and 57% of customers agree–but not in a good way.

Overall, El Pollo Loco has a low-quality environment. Customers complain that the servers are rude and slow, and that the food is bland. Cooks tend to overcook chicken and also undercook chicken and somehow keep it dry.

Is Taco Bell Really America’s Favorite Mexican Restaurant?

A customer rides his bike in front of a Taco Bell restaurant
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Taco Bell first opened its doors in 1962, California. In 2018, it was voted “America’s favorite Mexican restaurant.” But despite the delectable nachos, CrunchyWrap Supremes, and Baja Blasts, the data doesn’t confirm that Taco Bell is a favorite.

According to Consumer Reports, diners’ least favorite Taco Bell meal is their burritos. In addition, many menu items don’t fully satisfy the customer. That’s on top of people receiving stomach pains and irritation after eating there.

Bojangles’ Biscuits Aren’t All They’re Cracked Up To Be

man holds Bojangles chicken biscuit with a drink in the background
Twitter/@cjzero
Twitter/@cjzero

Bojangles’ has been serving up Southern American food since 1977. The chain spans 12 states and receives some praise for their cajun seasoning. But simply serving up Southern chicken doesn’t attract enough customers.

While some customers love their biscuits, others despise them. Taste testers for the Washington Post describe them as salty and burnt. On top of that, they criticized the food for providing “so many carbs, so little flavor.”

The Quality Here Is Krystal Clear

Stacks of tiny Krystal burgers
Twitter/@AtlantaEatsTV
Twitter/@AtlantaEatsTV

Krystal is a burger chain that started in 1928 Georgia and assimilated throughout Southeastern U.S. Because of their slider-sized hamburgers, many customers compare Krystal to White Castle. However, the joint’s focal point also seems to be its biggest flaw.

Consumer Reports says that Krystal serves the worst burgers in America. Because the buns are so big, the patties disappear inside. The meat is bland and comes with little sauce. Krystal’s main redeeming factor are their Corn Pops.

Has Domino’s Pizza Gotten Better?

Craig Birchall, a Domino's Pizza franchisee, displays his super supreme pizza
WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images
WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

Since 1960, Domino’s Pizza has delivered cheesy meals to peoples’ doors. But before 2009, many people complained that their pizza tasted like cardboard. The tomato sauce tasted similar to ketchup, and the toppings felt slimy and gross. In fact, even the restaurant admitted that their food wasn’t great before 2009.

To be fair, Domino’s has greatly improved its food quality in the last ten years. But it’s still a far cry from higher-quality pizza restaurants.

You’ll Have To Fish For Long John Silver’s

A sign hangs above a Yum Brands Long John Silver's restaurant
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Long John Silver’s is a fast food chain that specializes in fish. If you’re wary about eating fish fast food, you have a right to be. Consumers complain that their protein is stale, greasy, and far too salty. Most of the fried fish contains more batter than meat.

Long John Silver’s other pride are their hushpuppies, but these can often come out cold or overcooked. On top of that, the restaurant has received criticism for slow service, filthy tables, and an awful smell.

Would You Eat At Taco John’s?

Combo meal at Taco John's
Pinterest/Darlene Pilzen
Pinterest/Darlene Pilzen

The other big John in fast food leans toward Mexican food. Taco John’s is a classic “West-Mex” chain with almost 400 restaurants in 27 states. However, only 41% of diners return after eating there. Sure, their Potato Olés are good, but the rest of the menu is just a mess.

Consumers argue that salads and tacos are carelessly tossed together, and that burritos are wrapped incorrectly. Like other fast food chains, their dishes are also overwhelmingly salty, and oil leaks out of the shells.

Customers Worry About Wienerschnitzel

Wienerschnitzel mascot, The Delicious One, holds on to Little Richard, from Lakewood
Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images
Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Since Wienerschnitzel first opened in 1961, it has become the world’s biggest hog dog chain. But despite serving over 120 million hot dogs each year, their customer service is declining. Why? It’s likely because of their low-quality meals.

Despite having options to cook the meat to your liking, many Wienerschnitzel customers receive their food burnt. There’s also way more bread than meat, which overshadows why people eat there in the first place.

Even KFC Takes A Hit

Customers eating in a KFC fastfood restaurant
Dmitry FeoktistovTASS via Getty Images
Dmitry FeoktistovTASS via Getty Images

KFC is a classic American fried chicken joint. But despite their popularity, the chain went from 5,472 restaurants in 2002 to 4,270 locations in 2016. KFC has suffered from rumors of their “mutant chickens” being shot up with steroids.

Not only does their food often fail in quality, but the restaurant itself tends to be filthy. Although the chain advertises crispy, crunchy chicken, much of it comes out slimy and soggy.

Who Will Rally For Rally’s?

sign for Rally's restaurant
Twitter/@RB_magazine
Twitter/@RB_magazine

Funded by the same company who made Checkers, Rally’s is another drive-in burger chain that boasts “Crazy Good Food.” Unfortunately, only 38% of customers agree. The chain is one of the only places where one can score some Monsterella Stix, but other than that, their dishes are sub-par.

Rally’s has clearly been suffering, since many locations have closed down or otherwise held weird hours. People have mentioned that the food is “passable” at best.

Pizza Hut Doesn’t Always Deliver

Guest attends the Pizza Hut Lounge at 2019 Comic-Con International: San Diego
Presley Ann/Getty Images for Pizza Hut
Presley Ann/Getty Images for Pizza Hut

Since the chain debuted in 1958, Pizza Hut has become one of America’s most famous pizza chains. But despite running 6,000 stores across the country, Consumer Reports rank the restaurant at a C-. The chain’s business has succumbed to Domino’s since 2013.

The most common criticism against Pizza Hut is that the food is always late, so it’s usually cold by the time it reaches the door. Some pizzas barely have any sauce or cheese. Yikes.

A Cheesy Buffet At Cici’s

Men trying Cici's pizza challenge to win $500
Twitter/@abc13houston
Twitter/@abc13houston

Cici’s is another American pizza chain, but unlike other restaurants, it serves the food buffet style. Cici’s has 442 stores across 32 states, and recently redesigned their branding. This change may have to do with its low rating on Consumer Reports.

Customers don’t like the pizza’s low quality, which are often served on dirty dishes. The crust ends up soggy and cold on the buffet line. However, Cici’s ranked highly in politeness of staff and speedy service.

How Many People Crave Carl’s Jr.?

Person holding a Beyond Famous Star burger from Carl's Jr.
Twitter/@CarlsJr
Twitter/@CarlsJr

Carl’s Jr. has served American burgers since 1941. But despite its longevity, the chain has declined in popularity. According to a Consumer Picks survey, only 33% of responders wanted Carl’s Jr. over another chain.

Customers find Carl’s Jr. burgers to be more bland for more calories. The sandwiches are often poorly constructed, involving burnt meat and messy construction. Like other burger joints, Carl’s Jr. is also incredibly greasy and unremarkable at best.

Chik-Fil-A Isn’t A Favorite Everywhere

chick-fil-a slider with
Reddit/u/jliddy888
Reddit/u/jliddy888

Most people prefer their fried chicken without a side of politics. Although Chik-Fil-A has plans to expand into more U.S. states and Canada, certain areas refuse to support their business. Since their president’s political speech in 2012, certain towns and universities refuse to support the restaurant.

Although some people love their chicken nuggets and waffle fries, others find their food to be too greasy. Many still feel hungry after eating all of Chik-Fil-A’s meals. However, the chain has been praised for its kind servers.

Just Saying: Fatburger Has “Fat” In The Name

Pakistani Fatburger employee serves burgers to a customer at an outlet in Karachi.
RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images
RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images

For being “The Last Great Handburger Stand,” Fatburger doesn’t always receive the best reviews. This casual burger chain began in California and extended to 19 other countries. For a fast food joint, though, these meals are a bit on the pricey side.

While their onion rings are incredible, their burgers produce so much grease that they can soak the bun. Their restaurant might receive a better rep with more polite servers and overly simple burgers.