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This Convenience Store Chain Is America’s Favorite Sandwich Shop

Food & Wine logo Food & Wine 4/18/2018 Mike Pomranz

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Philadelphians have long known that Wawa is more than just a place to grab a gallon of milk, a jug of raspberry lemonade and a vanilla latte: The convenience store chain also offers up some of the best hoagies in the biz. Now, that cat is out of the bag: Wawa leaped to number one on the list of America’s favorite fast food sandwich spots according to a new survey that also shows perennial favorites like In-N-Out and Chick-fil-A holding strong in their respective food categories. The consumer experience experts at Market Force Information just unveiled the findings of their annual quick-service restaurant study, and the most beloved brands in their five major food categories are a mix of old and new.

For burgers, In-N-Out once again took the top spot for the second consecutive year, with Culver’s and Five Guys landing the second and third spots. (Meanwhile, McDonald’s finished last of the 13 burger chains that were ranked.) Here are the burger joint standings:

a screenshot of a cell phone © Courtesy of Market Force

In other unsurprising news, Chick-fil-A finished atop the chicken category for the fourth consecutive year, besting Raising Cane’s, as well as Zaxby’s and El Pollo Loco (who tied for third). Here's how chicken chains faired:

a screenshot of a cell phone © Courtesy of Market Force

Meanwhile, despite its highs and lows, Chipotle “narrowly” held onto the top spot when it comes to Mexican fast food. Here's a look at the competition in the quick-burrito category:

a screenshot of a cell phone © Courtesy of Market Force

But the newcomers are what make this year’s Market Force list something to talk about. Iowa-based Pizza Ranch and its 200 locations across 13 states became customers’ favorite pizza joint, beating out a top five that includes some far bigger names. Papa Murphy’s came in second, followed by Marco’s Pizza (last year’s number one), Domino’s, and Papa John’s.

a screenshot of a cell phone © Courtesy of Market Force

And as mentioned above, Wawa catapulted four spots up the list of sandwich chains to knock off Firehouse Subs, marking the first time a convenience store has found itself selected as the favorite stop for sandwiches in a field that also had Jersey Mike’s, Jimmy John’s, Jason’s Deli, and McAlister’s Deli in the top six.

a screenshot of a cell phone © Courtesy of Market Force

As one intriguing final footnote, Market Force also included an eye-popping update on mobile ordering. Use of the technology is growing rapidly, “with 39 percent reporting that they ordered their meals via smartphone app in the past 90 days, a significant increase from 2015 when just 11 percent reported doing so.” Though to be fair, this was an online poll, so clearly these respondents don’t mind staring at a screen.

To compile its findings, Market Force looked at responses from over 11,000 people collected this past February from a range of ages and geographic locations.


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