McDonald's and burgers go hand-in-hand, like KFC and chicken or Taco Bell and burritos. Unfortunately, customers are finding these chains' signature items less than satisfying.
Customers say that the biggest fast-food chains' menu offerings are some of the worst in their categories, according to a survey by Consumer Reports.
Big names fell hard: McDonald's was judged to have the worst burger in America, KFC served up the worst chicken and Taco Bell crafted the weakest burritos. Subway ranked second to last in the sandwich category, beating out only Au Bon Pain.
Winners, unsurprisingly, represent the growing fast-casual movement. Chipotle was deemed the creator of the best burrito, and smaller chains The Habit Burger Grill and Portillo's Hot Dogs won best burger and best sandwich, respectively.
Following The Habit Burger, the top burger spots all represent more upscale -- but still inexpensive -- burger chains with In-N-Out Burger, Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Smashburger ranking No. 2, 3 and 4. Chick-fil-A's move towards a more fast-casual style has also been rewarded, as the chicken chain snagged the top spot for chicken.
The rankings for the best and worst burgers, sandwiches, chicken and burritos in the U.S. were released after the product-testing magazine surveyed 32,405 subscribers, who ate 96,208 meals at 65 chains.
In some ways, comparing the products of these chains is like comparing apples and oranges. A burrito at Chipotle costs two or three times as much as a burrito from Taco Bell -- of course the quality of the product will be higher. Fast-food chains' focus isn't necessarily on creating the best product but creating a good product that is cheap and quick to make.
It may be impossible for a chain to simultaneously keep costs low and produce a top-quality product. However, with even other fast-food chains like In-N-Out, Popeyes and White Castle beating the big names at their own game, McDonald's, KFC, Taco Bell and Subway need to start trying harder.