Americans eat a lot of fast food. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 36.6% of adults consume fast food on any given day. There’s a reason that statistic comes from the CDC: Lifestyle and diet play major roles in the prevalence of obesity and diseases such as diabetes, and some observers point to fast food as a culprit. (These are the unhealthiest items in the most popular food chains.)
Fast food is more popular, or at least more easily accessible, in some places than others. To determine the fast food capitals of America — the states with the most outlets of the nation’s ten most popular chains — 24/7 Tempo reviewed data collected by NiceRx, a patient assistance program and medication access company, using numbers for total fast-food restaurants taken from the U.S. Census Bureau and tracking the nation’s ten most popular chains as determined by ScrapeHero.com. (Population figures are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.)
We then ranked the states by their total number of fast food restaurants per capita belonging to those top ten chains — Subway, Starbucks, McDonalds, Dunkin’, Burger King, Taco Bell, Dominos, Wendy’s, KFC, and Dairy Queen. (All are among the most successful restaurant chains in America.)
Hawaii, which has only about 1,500 of those establishments in total, ranks No. 1 on our list because, due to the small size of its population, that works out to 97.5 per 100,000 people. That may reflect a local fondness for fast food, but those restaurants also cater to the Aloha State’s many visitors. Interestingly, the No. 50 spot is occupied by the other non-contiguous state, Alaska, which has a comparatively few 61.9 of those chain outlets per 100,000 people.