10. Hunt Brothers Pizza (USA) – 7,300 restaurants
Hunt Brothers Pizza was established in 1991 and is based in Nashville, Tennessee, although its roots go back to 1962 when four brothers from Evansville, Indiana – Don, Lonnie, Jim and Charlie Hunt – began a local wholesale food route named Pepe’s Pizza, which distributed par-baked pizza crusts and other pizza items to restaurants, taverns, bowling alleys and drive-in theaters. By 2015, the company had partnered with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to open five stores on U.S. bases in Germany.
9. Baskin-Robbins (USA) – 7,500 restaurants
Baskin-Robbins is an American chain of ice cream and cake specialty shop restaurants. Based in Canton, Massachusetts, it was founded in 1945 by Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins in Glendale, California. It claims to be the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty stores, Baskin-Robbins sells ice cream in nearly 50 countries. The company is known for its “31 flavors” slogan, with the idea that a customer could have a different flavor every day of any month.
8. Dunkin’ (USA) – 11,300 restaurants
William Rosenberg opened Open Kettle in 1948, a restaurant selling donuts and coffee in Quincy, Massachusetts, but he changed the name in 1950 to Dunkin’ Donuts after discussing with company executives. He conceived the idea for the restaurant after his experiences selling food in factories and at construction sites, where donuts and coffee were the two most popular items. The restaurant was successful, and Rosenberg sold franchises to others starting in 1955.
7. Dominos (USA) – 15,000 restaurants
In 1960, Tom Monaghan and his brother, James, took over the operation of DomiNick’s, an existing location of a small pizza restaurant chain that had been owned by Dominick DiVarti, at 507 Cross Street in Ypsilanti, Michigan, near Eastern Michigan University. The brothers planned to split the work hours evenly, but James did not want to quit his job as a full-time postman to keep up with the demands of the new business. Within eight months, James traded his half of the business to Tom for the Volkswagen Beetle they used for pizza deliveries.
6. Pizza Hut (USA) – 16,796 restaurants
Pizza Hut was founded in June 1958 by two Wichita State University students, brothers Dan and Frank Carney, as a single location in Wichita, Kansas. Six months later they opened a second outlet and within a year they had six Pizza Hut restaurants. The brothers began franchising in 1959. The iconic Pizza Hut building style was designed in 1963 by Chicago architect George Lindstrom. PepsiCo acquired Pizza Hut in November 1977.
5. Burger King (USA) – 16,859 restaurants
The predecessor to Burger King was founded in 1953 in Jacksonville, Florida, as Insta-Burger King. After visiting the McDonald brothers’ original store location in San Bernardino, California, the founders and owners (Keith J. Kramer and his wife’s uncle Matthew Burns), who had purchased the rights to two pieces of equipment called “Insta-machines”, opened their first restaurants. Their production model was based on one of the machines they had acquired, an oven called the “Insta-Broiler”. This strategy proved to be so successful that they later required all of their franchises to use the device.
4. KFC (USA) – 20,404 restaurants
KFC was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders, an entrepreneur who began selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky, during the Great Depression. Sanders identified the potential of the restaurant franchising concept, and the first “Kentucky Fried Chicken” franchise opened in Utah in 1952. KFC popularized chicken in the fast food industry, diversifying the market by challenging the established dominance of the hamburger. By branding himself as “Colonel Sanders”, Harland became a prominent figure of American cultural history, and his image remains widely used in KFC advertising to this day.