This Was The Most Popular Dish Of 2020 According To GrubHub

Although 2020 was, shall we say, a rather... challenging year for many of us, GrubHub faced more of a cha-ching cha-challenge. According to GrubHub's 2020 QE3 results, the delivery service had 41 percent more active diners than the previous year, but their sales volume was up by 68 percent. Not too surprising when you look at how the year played out. Even now, many restaurants remain closed to walk-in business, so the only way you can dine out is to dine in.

So what were we all eating? GrubHub cannot tell us exactly what the nation's most-ordered item was for 2020, as they can only access their own data. For instance, with something like pizza, a perennially popular delivery food, most pies may well be delivered by Domino's, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, or even many Mom & Pop pizzerias that have been doing their own deliveries for years and see no reason to switch over to GrubHub, DoorDash, or UberEats at this stage in the game. (After all, meal delivery services are not always such a great deal for restaurants.) GrubHub's Taste of 2020, however, does offer interesting insights into the year's food trends. While you likely saw many of these all over Instagram already, certain other revelations from this report, however, were a little... unexpected. Starting with the fact that, despite teasing "America's favorite" food, the report never actually comes out and answers that question.

The big shocker had to do with pizza

Instead of just straight out giving numbers — X many people ordered pizza from GrubHub in 2020, while Y number of people ordered burgers — GrubHub chose to get all mathematical and calculate how much orders of said foods increased from 2019 to 2020. So, instead of reporting on the "most popular," GrubHub has essentially chosen to focus on which items were "most improved." For example, GrubHub claims that America's favorite pizza is Hawaiian, which increased in popularity by 689 percent? Yeah, even GrubHub admitted they "have some questions and concerns..."

Well, we have some hypothetical answers, since all that this percent increase means is that more people ordered it this year, for reasons best known to themselves. Still, if a grand total of 27 people ordered pineapple on their pizza in 2019, and that number swelled to 186 in 2020, it would amount to a 689 percent increase overall, but would hardly speak to that pizza's popularity. Understand that our numbers are entirely made up, and yet, no less (or more) significant than the numbers that were not provided by GrubHub, since we have absolutely no idea how many Hawaiian pizzas they actually sold during this or any other year.

Other increasingly popular dishes

Also at the top of GrubHub's "most popular" list are burgers, ramen, and dumplings. According to their data, garlic mushroom burgers were 637 percent more popular than last year — but we are going to remain skeptical that this particular burger type outsold, say, bacon cheeseburgers, particularly since the latter are available at just about every burger chain, while garlic mushroom? Not so much. America's (supposed) favorite ramen, they said, was spicy tonkatsu, which was 501 percent more popular than last year. America's most-improved dumplings were spicy wontons, up 457 percent.

The "top trending" dish, GrubHub said, was no surprise, as the spicy chicken sandwich was 318 percent more popular than in 2019. Other chicken contenders were burrito bowls, up 299 percent, and chicken wings, which sold 287 percent more than last year. Way down the list we found steak quesadillas were 164 percent more popular, fish and chips (which might not be the greatest delivery food, as they taste lousy when cold) were 146 percent more popular, and roast beef sandwiches were only 126 percent more popular. (Sorry, Arby's.)

Dishes that got the most love... from just one person

Unfortunately, those sales increase stats do not really mean all that much in the absence of any context — to reiterate the math example, if only 1 person does something in 2019, and 3 people do it in 2020, that's a 300 percent increase. There is one statistic that is very meaningful in a hyper-localized context, however, and that is the figure behind GrubHub's largest order. We might not know how many people in the U.S. like bean burritos, nor how much their popularity may have increased (or decreased) over last year, but we do know that one person really, really liked them enough to order 300 of them at one time. (Let's hope that was before the great TP shortage hit.)

Other best-loved foods include chocolate chip cookies, with one person ordering 210 of these (which actually seems like a pretty reasonable supply for a week or so of quarantine), 140 crunchy tacos (ditto for quarantine supplies), and 135 chicken sandwiches (well, you never know when Popeyes is going to run out again).