Some people consider White Castle (1921, Wichita, Kansas) the first fast food chain. Others defer to McDonald’s, as it was first to employ the assembly line. I’ve even heard that A&W was the shop that kicked off this legacy. Regardless, what do you think of when you think fast food? I’d say that I, and most people I know, think, foremost, of McDonald’s.

That’s why I was stunned when I heard that, according to a new report from American Customer Service Index (an organization that measures customer satisfaction across industries), McDonald’s is America’s least-favorite fast food joint. The report is based on a survey of 4,500 people about how happy they are with their experiences at various chain restaurants.

….what?!?! I thought everyone ate McDonald’s and loved it…

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I get that the chain has been an object of recent fast food protests aimed at raising wages and ameliorating worker conditions. But based on U.S. system-wide food service sales, including company-store and franchised-unit sales, just last year McDonald’s was at the front, raking in $35.4 billion dollars that fiscal year. Starbucks, Subway and Burger King followed, respectively.

ACSI chairman Claes Fornell says that, as the economy is recovering from the recession, quality is becoming more important to consumers.

Here’s the chart from the report:


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