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Editor's Note: Dollars to Doughnuts

Beyond the analysis and data, our annual Franchise 500 issue is a look at life in America right now.

This story appears in the January 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The Franchise 500®--our yearly mountain of data, compiled after months of research and analysis--tells you a lot about the world of franchises. Which are growing fastest. Which are rising to the top. The big guys who are losing their position. The newbies who are expanding even as the shrinks.

What it also gives you--between the columns of stats, not obvious to the naked eye--is a strangely quantified window on our culture. Just look at this year's top franchises: It's the year of the sandwich and the janitor. Both categories make strong showings at the top of the list. So do , doughnut shops, discount haircutters, budget hotels and tax prep services.

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