The 19 Oldest Franchises on the Franchise 500 These businesses have all been franchising for 60 years or more.

By Matthew McCreary

Hulton Archive | Stringer | Getty Images

There's an old saying: "Tough times don't last, but tough people do." The same is true of businesses. The 19 entries on the Franchise 500 that have been franchising for more than 60 years come from all different price points (some cost $600 to start, some cost nine figures), industries and places.

But what connects these businesses is their longevity, their toughness and ability to survive through thick and thin. Start the slideshow to find which Franchise 500 businesses have been around since the '50s (or earlier.)

Related: 24 Top-Ranked, Affordable Franchises You Can Buy for $25,000 or Less

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A&W Restaurants Inc.

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 290

Initial investment: $269,000 to $1,213,000

Initial franchise fee: $15,000 to $30,000

Originally founded in 1919, A&W Restaurants has been running for over 100 years and franchising for 95.

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Dairy Queen

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 16

Initial investment: $1,091,025 to $1,849,625

Initial franchise fee: $35,000

New units: 173 units (2.5 percent)

Dairy Queen was founded in 1940, and it began franchising the same year. The frozen treat company has been among the most consistent entries in our Franchise 500, appearing in more than 95 percent of our lists since 1979.

Related: Just How Much Does It Cost to Own a Fast-Food Franchise?

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Duraclean

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 414

Initial investment: $79,600 to $129,900

Initial franchise fee: $24,500

New units: -8 units (-2.9 percent)

With his wife Marjorie's support, Irl Marshall Sr. opened The Home Service Co., the parent of Duraclean International Inc., in 1930. Thirteen years later, the Marshalls began franchising.

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 483

Initial investment: $70,494,125 to $103,087,610

Initial franchise fee: $75,000

New units: 13 units (6.6 percent)

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts was both founded and first franchised in 1946. And if you think that eight- or even nine-digit price tag seems steep, consider this: the $70 million needed to invest today would be worth almost $1 billion ($928 million) in 1946.

Related: Want to Buy a Hotel Franchise? Here's What Some of the Big Brands Will Cost You.

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Carvel

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 361

Initial investment: $250,600 to $415,500

Initial franchise fee: $30,000

New units: -17 units (-4.6 percent)

Tom Carvel founded his first ice cream shop in 1934. The company began franchising 13 years later, in 1947. By 1951, the company had already opened 100 stores.

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Baskin-Robbins

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 13

Initial investment: $93,550 to $401,800

Initial franchise fee: $12,500 to $25,000

New units: 61 units (0.8 percent)

After serving in World War II, Irv Robbins purchased an ice cream parlor in Glendale, Cali. Three years later, his brother-in-law Burt Baskin joined him in the business. Together, they founded Baskin-Robbins in 1945 and began franchising in 1948.

Martinizing Dry Cleaning

Martinizing

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 332

Initial investment: $419,650 to $730,525

Initial franchise fee: $69,500

New units: 5 units (1.4 percent)

Dry cleaning franchise Martinizing was founded in 1949 by Henry Martin. It began franchising the same year.

Related: 5 Affordable Franchises You Can Start for Less Than $10,000

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KFC US LLC

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 24

Initial investment: $1,442,550 to $2,771,550

Initial franchise fee: $45,000

New units: 1,660 units (7.7 percent)

Harland Sanders founded Sanders Court & Cafe in a Kentucky gas station in 1930. However, he did not begin franchising for another 22 years, beginning in 1952.

ServiceMaster

ServiceMaster Clean/ServiceMaster Restore

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 77

Initial investment: $93,698 to $294,433

Initial franchise fee: $31,500 to $66,000

New units: 17 units (0.3 percent)

Janitorial and floor care franchise ServiceMaster Clean was founded in 1947 and has been franchising since 1952.

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Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 36

Initial investment: $7,881,597 to $24,969,320

Initial franchise fee: $50,000

New units: 179 units (4.6 percent)

Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express was founded in 1952 and began franchising in 1954. Today, there are more than 4,000 Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels across the world.

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Howard Johnson by Wyndham

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 289

Initial investment: $369,836 to $9,603,858

Initial franchise fee: $35,000 to $38,000

New units: 5 units (1.5 percent)

Howard Dearing Johnson started a small Massachusetts medicine shop in 1925. He sold treats like ice cream and hamburgers, growing the number of restaurants at a steady pace for decades. By 1954, when Howard Johnson opened its first hotel and began franchising them, the company also operated 400 restaurants. 

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Dunkin’

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 1

Initial investment: $395,500 to $1,597,200

Initial franchise fee: $40,000 to $90,000

New units: 281 (2.2 percent)

The No. 1 entry on our Franchise 500 list was originally called The Open Kettle, which was then renamed Dunkin' Donuts and then simply Dunkin'. It was founded in 1950 and began franchising in 1955.

Related: #1 on the Franchise 500: Even Without the 'Donuts', Dunkin' Takes the Cake

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McDonald’s

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 3

Initial investment: $1,263,000 to $2,235,000

Initial franchise fee: $45,000

New units: 702 units (1.9 percent)

McDonald's was founded in 1955, and it's been franchising since that year. as of a 2019 count, there are 38,108 McDonald's units across the globe.

Related: 5 Things You Should Know Before You Buy a McDonald's Franchise

Spherion Staffing

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 89

Initial investment: $148,025 to $347,475

Initial franchise fee: $26,250 to $35,000

New units: 12 units (6.6 percent)

Staffing franchise Spherion was founded in 1946 and has been franchising since 1956. 

Tim Boyle | Getty Images

H&R Block

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 306

Initial investment: $31,557 to $149,398

Initial franchise fee: $2,500

New units: -564 units (-5.2 percent)

Brothers Henry and Richard Block founded the tax-service franchise in 1955. They began franchising the business in 1956 and went public in 1962.

Midas Int’l. LLC

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 199

Initial investment: $191,650 to $460,482

Initial franchise fee: $30,000

New units: -9 units (-0.4 percent)

The first Midas muffler repair shop was founded in Macon, Ga., in 1956. The auto repair and maintenance business began franchising the same year.

Bruce Berman | Getty Images

Kumon Math & Reading Centers

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 12

Initial investment: $73,373 to $154,825

Initial franchise fee: $1,000

New units: 397 units (1.5 percent)

Tutoring franchise Kumon was originally founded by high school math teacher Toru Kumon in 1954. It has been franchising since 1958. 

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Sonic Drive-In

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 4

Initial investment: $1,236,800 to $3,536,300

Initial franchise fee: $45,000

New units: 12 units (0.3 percent)

When the burger and milkshake business first opened in 1953, it was called Top Hat Drive-In. When founder Troy Smith Sr. partnered with Charlie Pappe and the pair began franchising in 1959, the name was changed to Sonic Drive-In.

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Pizza Hut LLC

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 10

Initial investment: $357,000 to $2,213,500

Initial franchise fee: $25,000

New units: 1,758 units (11.4 percent)

Frank and Dan Carney borrowed $600 from their mom to start Pizza Hut in Witchita, Kan., in 1958. The brothers franchised its first location in 1960.

Related: The 5 Best Pizza Franchises You Can Start Today

The Oldest Franchises by Their Entrepreneur Franchise 500 Rank

  1. Dunkin’ (No. 1 on the Franchise 500) — Founded in 1950 and franchising since 1955
  2. McDonald’s (No. 3) — Founded in 1955 and franchising since 1955
  3. Sonic Drive-In (No. 4) — Founded in 1953 and franchising since 1959
  4. Pizza Hut LLC (No. 10) — Founded in 1958 and franchising since 1959
  5. Kumon Math & Reading Centers (No. 12) — Founded in 1954 and franchising since 1958
  6. Baskin-Robbins (No. 13) — Founded in 1945 and franchising since 1948
  7. Dairy Queen (No. 16) — Founded in 1940 and franchising since 1940
  8. KFC US LLC (No. 24) — Founded in 1930 and franchising since 1952
  9. Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express (No. 36) — Founded in 1952 and franchising since 1954
  10. ServiceMaster Clean/ServiceMaster Restore (No. 77) — Founded in 1947 and franchising since 1954
  11. Spherion Staffing (No. 89) — Founded in 1946 and franchising since 1956
  12. Midas Int’l. LLC (No. 199) — Founded in 1956 and franchising since 1956
  13. Howard Johnson by Wyndham (No. 289) — Founded in 1925 and franchising since 1954
  14. A&W Restaurants Inc. (No. 290) — Founded in 1919 and franchising since 1925
  15. H&R Block (No. 306) — Founded in 1955 and franchising since 1956
  16. Martinizing (No. 332) — Founded in 1949 and franchising since 1949
  17. Carvel (No. 361) — Founded in 1934 and franchising since 1947
  18. Duraclean (No. 414) — Founded in 1930 and franchising since 1945
  19. InterContinental Hotels & Resorts (No. 483) — Founded in 1946 and franchising since 1946
Wavy Line
Matthew McCreary

Entrepreneur Staff

Associate Editor, Contributed Content

Matthew McCreary is the associate editor for contributed content at Entrepreneur.com.

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