There were lots of innovations and inventions in the 1950s, and these included a number in the areas of food processing and preparation. Some of these new developments facilitated the evolution of fast food restaurants. And they coincided with a time when Americans were increasingly looking for quick, simple, affordable, consistent ready-made meals—especially ones they could easily sit down with in front of their television sets.
Here’s a look at a few well-known fast food restaurants started in the 1950s that lots of Americans are still eating at today.
Fast Food Chains Founded in the 1950s
- Dunkin’ Donuts was founded in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1950 by William Rosenberg. It opened its one-hundredth location in 1963, and today has more than 11,300 restaurants worldwide. This includes more than 8,500 restaurants in 41 states across the US and over 3,200 international restaurants in 36 countries!
- Church’s Chicken was founded as Church’s Fried Chicken To-Go by George W. Church Sr. in San Antonio, Texas in 1952. It expanded to over 100 locations in 7 US states in 1969, and today it has more than 1,700 franchised and company-owned locations in 26 countries.
- Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders in Utah in 1952. There were 600 KFC locations by 1963, when it was the largest fast food restaurant in the US. Today, it’s the second-largest restaurant chain by sales, after McDonald’s.
- Burger King was founded in 1953 as Insta-Burger King by Keith J. Cramer and his step-father Matthew Burns in Jacksonville, Florida. It introduced its signature item, The Whopper, in 1957. Today, it has nearly 18,000 locations, almost half of which are in the US and the rest are found in about 100 other countries.
- Sonic Drive-In was founded by Troy N. Smith Sr. in 1953 in Oklahoma. However, its name didn’t become “Sonic” until 1959; before that it was known as Top Hat. There were 1,000 locations by 1978, and today there are more than 3,500 Sonic Drive-Ins across 46 states in the US.