Have you filled out your Fast Food Bracket yet?

(Click on Bracket for larger view)

Ah March, that time of year when people put anything and everything into “bracket” form. Last year, So Good brought down the house with our wildly popular Meat Madness tournament. One full month of debates, arguments and voting, leading to some interesting final results, and ultimately, bacon defeating steak to be crowned the greatest meat in the land.  We even had some controversy along the way, as Deadspin accused an ESPN reporter of copying the idea of a meat bracket.

Rather than re-hash Meat Madness, this year So Good has returned with an all new competition: The Fast Food Bracket.

The rules are fairly simple. Over the course of the next month, So Good readers will vote, match-up by match-up, to determine what is the best fast food chain in America.  When we use the term “fast food”, we are using it loosely. These tournament competitors really fall under the larger umbrella of Quick Service Restaurants, or QSR.

Please weigh in with your predictions, intriguing match-ups and thoughts in the comments!

Here is how the participants and seeding were determined, working off last year’s list of the top 50 QSR chains:

  • You must have a substantial portion of your sales come from food, specifically non-dessert foods (sorry Starbucks, Jamba Juice and Cold Stone, that means you’re out…Dairy Queen, Dunkin Donut’s, you guys have a big enough variety of food offerings, so you’re in)
  • Only 32 chains are eligible. Sure, I could have done 64, but just like with Meat Madness, that would have taken forever to vote on. 32 it is. Complain in the comments about your favorite “bubble chain” that got bounced, but you’re just gonna have to deal with it.
  • The top 16 chains by revenue get automatic berths, with the top 4 holding #1 seeds, next 4 holding #2 seeds, etc. Doesn’t matter how bad people think your food sucks, just like the big conferences get an edge in basketball, so do these guys.
  • I combined Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. even though they are listed separately on the QSR 50 list, because they are jointly own/run. However, this did not move their seed up – tough noogies.
  • After that, the seeding was at my discretion, but for the most part I stuck to the basic structure of ranking them based on revenue.
  • The only chains outside of the top 32 in revenue that made the cut as “wild-cards” based on reputation and pop culture familiarity were: In n Out, White Castle and Five Guys.

Voting begins when the “real” tournament starts on Thursday, with voting on two match-ups at a time during the first round. Make sure to check back to So Good at approximately noon each day so you can vote on each of the match-ups.

Last year I heard stories from all across the country of people printing out Meat Madness brackets in their office, running an office pool or making their predictions. Glad everyone enjoyed it so much, and hope they enjoy this competition as well.

Just like with Meat Madness, voting criteria is totally up to you. Want to vote just based on which you think is the best tasting and nothing else? Go for it. Maybe you want to factor in cost? Convenience? Quality of service? Number of locations? Variety of menu options?

The choice is yours.  But one thing is clear: in one month’s time, So Good will be crowning one lucky chain as the “Top Fast Food Chain” in America.

We love Green Tea.

90 Responses

  1. KevinB

    How can In-n-Out win? They’re only available in what, 3 states? I had one once in Vegas, and I thought it was OK, but it took almost 20 minutes after placing the order before I got my food. I know places that can cook a burger from frozen faster than that (and they still end up tasting pretty good!).

  2. Stephen

    Sonic: Northern Iowa
    McDonald’s: Kansas

    I’ll let you figure out the rest…

  3. Shane

    White Castle is going to be like Cornell – way underseeded there’s going to be some upsets.

  4. josh is beasten

    final four Zaxby’s, five Guys, Chick Fil A, and Arby’s, then battle of the Chicken Zaxby’s vs. Chick fil a , winner is Zaxby’s

  5. mr dude

    dude zaxby’s is the bomb. i doubt theyll win cus not that many people know about it but its the best restaurant ever

  6. david

    one, twice-hyphenated word>>>> In-N-Out ….sorry that you don’t live in the wild West…i’ll have mine Animal with grilled, ty

  7. Ellen Fleming

    First off, this is the first time I have viewed this sight and it literally couldn’t be more perfect. The only thing that comes slightly close to how good all these foods are is the ridiculousness of this competition itself (which I am taking completely serious.)

    I have to agree with one of the first comments by Laura M. Putting Wendys, an American classic up next to Boston Market is ridiculous. But lets get real, Boston Market had no chance of making it high in these ranks anyways.

    I have to make a bold statement and say that Five Guys, Chipotle, Popeyes, and Subway will be, if not should be in running to becoming number one.

  8. Rogan

    Maybe we should have a showdown between our 3 winners of tournaments: bacon, Dairy Queen, and oreos.

  9. Rogan

    Actually, now that I know Airheads won Candy Madness, we should have a showdown between bacon, Oreos, and Airheads and redo the Fast Food Bracket next year with some new contenders (Bojangle’s, Culver’s, and Jimmy John’s), and organized diferently. Also, Eick should have 3 Eick’s Choices. An Eick’s Chocie is where he chooses the other restaurant if it loses. He has to use all before teh Elite EIght. And for the name, let’s change it to Fast Food Frenzy. Just a suggestion, Eick.


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