- Hollis Johnson
Five Guys has triumphed over In-N-Out in a battle of the burger brands.
The chain received the top spot in the burger category in The Harris Poll’s annual EquiTrend Study. This is the first time Five Guys has been crowned the burger champion in the study, which asks respondents to rate brands based on familiarity, quality, and how likely they are to consider purchasing its items.
“The burger brand category has become less fragmented, as regional brands expand and become available in more parts of the country,” Joan Sinopoli, vice president of brand solutions at The Harris Poll, said in a statement. “This is certainly the case with Five Guys, who has shed its ‘small regional player’ designation as it expands its footprint and marketing budget along with its fandom, which is a tremendous contributor to brand equity.”
Five Guys ousted In-N-Out, which had the top spot for the last two years. The West Coast chain snagged the No. 2 spot.
While McDonald’s earned top marks for familiarity, the fast-food giant ranked seventh, behind brands like Shake Shack, Wendy’s, and Culver’s.
The first Five Guys opened its doors in 1986, in Arlington, Virginia. The chain is known for its burgers, grilled in front of customers and topped with limitless toppings, and fries, cooked in peanut oil.
“It’s a simple burger that’s filling and delicious in a guilty sort of way,” Hollis Johnson wrote in his Business Insider review of Five Guys. “As the better-burger industry evolves, there’s something to be said for restaurants that serve an honest, humble burger in a no-frills environment. It’s the classic American burger enterprise.”
- Hollis Johnson
While many “better burger” chains like Smashburger and Shake Shack aim for trendy designs, Five Guys has a no-fuss atmosphere, with an open kitchen and bold red-and-white decorations.
The chain earned national recognition in 2009 when President Barack Obama stopped at a DC location while taping a day-in-the-life segment with NBC Nightly News and ordered a round of burgers for his staff. His order was a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, jalapeno peppers, and mustard, according to NBC.
In 2003, the brand, which is family-owned, began expanding out of the Washington, DC, area. Today, there are about 1,500 locations worldwide.
As the chain expands, Americans’ appreciation for Five Guys increases. In 2013, 48% of respondents were familiar with Five Guys, according to The Harris Poll. Today, that figure is 68%, with Five Guys reaching 81% familiarity among Generation Z and millennials.