Special Report

How Fast Food Prices Rose and Fell in 2022

Even though Americans have become more health-conscious in their food choices, fast food – notorious for its nutritional deficiencies and potentially harmful effects – is still a staple in the American diet. Some 37% of Americans eat fast food daily, at one of more of the nearly 198,000 fast-food restaurants across the nation. 

Fast food appeals to consumers because, by definition, it’s served quickly; because it tends to satisfy our cravings for salt, sugar, and fat; and because it’s cheap. Over the past year, however, the price of some of the most popular fast-food menu items has fluctuated wildly. (These are the most iconic items at America’s biggest fast food chains.)

Food and energy are the two most volatile indicators on the U.S. Consumer Price Index. The food section of the CPI increased 10.6% for the 12 months ending in November, a smaller gain than the similar period ending in October. The index for fast food specifically rose 5.8% from 2020 to 2021. The pandemic has been a big factor in the increase. Not all individual fast-food prices went up, though.

To compile a list of popular fat food items showing the biggest price differential between September 2021 and October 2022, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a report by price-monitoring site Pricelisto.com. The site analyzed data from that time period showing average prices of popular menu items from five popular fast-food chains. (These are the favorite fast food chains in 30 U.S. cities.)

Of the 26 items on our list, 14 posted a price drop. All five of the Taco Bell items offerings recorded decreases, and three items – chicken quesadilla, Nachos BellGrande, and Crunchwrap Supreme – declined by more than $1.

Click here to see how fast food prices rose and fell in 2022

The biggest price change was recorded by Wendy’s Baconator, advertised as a half-pound of British beef, American cheese, six pieces of applewood-smoked bacon, ketchup, and mayonnaise. The price slid $2.51, from $12.13 to $9.62, between September 2021 and October 2022.  

Chick-Fil-A recorded only one price drop, while three items – chicken sandwich, grilled chicken sandwich, and chicken fries – represented the biggest price gains on the list.

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