11. Panera Bread
> Broccoli cheddar soup
“Bread” might be part of this chain’s name, and sandwiches are definitely featured on the extensive menu, but soups are also offered — and this creamy specialty, available daily, is said to be the most popular item ordered around the country (and the internet is full of copycat recipes).
> Chicken bowl
Though it has been plagued by E. coli and norovirus outbreaks and has recently experienced top-level management turnover, this make-your-own-sorta-Mexican-food chain continues to thrive. Bowls (instead of burritos or tacos) are the most popular item here — and the definitive order (apparently also the most popular) includes white rice, black beans, chicken, mild salsa, lettuce, and cheese.
> Original Recipe chicken
Fast food menus constantly evolve to match consumer tastes and health concerns. Sometimes, though, the original — the item that made a chain’s reputation in the first place — is best. You could certainly order some Nashville Hot tenders here, or a Smoky Mountain BBQ chicken sandwich, but why would you? It’s the Original Recipe chicken, seasoned with that famous “secret blend of 11 herbs & spices” that made the chain world-famous.
14. Sonic Drive-In
> Cherry limeade
Sonic fans love the cheeseburgers, the chicken sandwiches, the potato tots, the jalapeño-popper-like Ched ‘R’ Peppers, and more, but it’s the drinks that really seem to stir passions. And it’s the cherry limeade — made with fresh-squeezed lime juice and poured over pellet ice — that wins raves again and again. There is also a diet version, and Sonic periodically offers such limited-time variations as the Cherry Limeade Red Bull Slush.
15. Dairy Queen
> Blizzard Treats
Sure, there are burgers, dogs, and chicken sandwiches here, not to mention fries and onion rings and such. But the “Dairy” part of the name is key. The chain’s “upsidedownright thick” Blizzard Treats (or simply Blizzards) — introduced in 1985 — have become its veritable emblem. These are dense concoctions of soft-serve ice cream loaded with pieces of various candies, baked goods, and/or miscellaneous sundae toppings. They are indeed so thick that they won’t flow out of the cup when turned upside down. There are always at least 15 varieties available, and they may be customized. A current favorite is the Peanut Butter Pie Blizzard, made with Snickers.