The State With The Most Fast-Food Restaurants Might Surprise You

You will be hard-pressed to find someone who's never indulged in a fast food meal before. The reason for that? No matter where you are, or what time of day it is, there's a solid chance that there's a chain restaurant that's not too far away. Whether you're driving cross country at 3 a.m. or waiting in the airport to catch a red eye flight, you can always count on fast food to be there in your time of need.

From McDonald's to Starbucks to Taco Bell to Subway, there are a dizzying number of fast food chains scattered across the United States. In fact, as of 2022, nearly 200,000 fast food chains populate the nation, according to IBIS World. In some cities, it can feel like everywhere you turn there's a drive-thru staring you straight in the face, whereas in more remote areas, chain restaurants are few and far between.

But of all the states in the United States, which one has the most chain restaurants? Is it one of the largest states, like Alaska? Or is it a state with a relatively high population, like California or Texas? Surprisingly, it's actually none of the above.

Yum! Brands and Papa Johns are both headquartered in Kentucky

According to Biz Journals, the award for the state with the most fast food chain goes to... Kentucky. When it comes to land mass and population, Kentucky falls in the middle of the pack compared to other states. However, this Southern state is a champion in other ways. Namely, it's home to many fast food headquarters, including Texas Roadhouse, Papa John's, and Yum! Brands (via Zippia). The Yum! Brands umbrella includes three of America's largest fast food chains, including KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are the sixth and seventh largest fast food chains in the United States respectively, whereas KFC slides into twelfth place, as noted by QSR Magazine. Is this a fluke? We think not!

Per Biz Journals, the state where fast food reigns has "4.12 fast-food chains per 10,000 residents," a marked difference from California's "nearly 3 chains per 10,000 residents." While Kentucky residents may enjoy having a fast food chain around every corner, there may also be downsides to the accessibility of these restaurants. Fast food isn't the healthiest choice, and Kentucky is the state with the fifth highest obesity rate in the country, according to US News and World Report, while the CDC found its residents have a high mortality rate when it comes to heart disease.