Marketing poultry to top cheeseburger joints

A recent TOP Data survey revealed the favorite fast-food restaurants for burgers in each of the 48 continental United States. Chicken and turkey marketers should pay attention to this list.

Roy Graber Headshot
A recent TOP Data survey listed Smashburger as the favorite place to eat a burger in eight states. Smashburger also sells turkey and chicken products, like the Scorchin' Ht Crispy Chicken Sandwich. However, not all states on the list have poultry offerings. (Courtesy Smashburger)
A recent TOP Data survey listed Smashburger as the favorite place to eat a burger in eight states. Smashburger also sells turkey and chicken products, like the Scorchin' Ht Crispy Chicken Sandwich. However, not all states on the list have poultry offerings. (Courtesy Smashburger)

I got a pretty interesting email telling me what each state’s favorite fast-food chain for cheeseburgers was. The email was sent to coincide with National Cheeseburger Day, September 18.

I could have just said this is not germane to the poultry industry and deleted the email. But I didn’t because I was curious what those favorite places were, and, yes, I did see a way to tie it to both the chicken and turkey sectors.

Here’s the deal: If you know what each state’s favorite place is to eat a cheeseburger, then it would behoove those who market chicken and turkey to make sure their products can also be found there. After all, people in groups with differing tastes often go to these places, and just because one person in the group wants beef, that doesn’t mean they all will.

The data for this report was gathered by TOP Data, but only offers the favorites for the 48 continental United States.

I’ll offer summaries of the favorite chains. Here they are:


Ten states rated Smashburger as their favorite place to get a burger, and I must concur. The first time we ate at a Smashburger was at a location in Moore, Oklahoma. And we loved it. Sadly, that particular location is no longer open, but thank heavens other locations are still around.

Poultry also has its place there with a crispy chicken sandwich and a turkey burger offering. As crazy as it sounds, I might have had a turkey burger there but don’t remember. Anything from Smashburger is good.


My own state was one of five states to rate A&W as the favorite burger joint. And what’s not to like about a Papa Burger?

This may seem like blasphemy for those in the poultry industry, but I love the Papa Burger so much, I pretty much always get one. But I do know they have chicken there. This is an opportunity to make sure A&W’s offerings are as memorable as the Papa Burger.

Steak & Shake

While I hear Steak & Shake isn’t thriving as it once was, multiple states still listed that as their favorite place for a burger. This is a challenge for the poultry industry, because with beef and dairy emphasized in the title, would you really think about poultry when going there?

Five Guys

Personally, I think Five Guys burgers are overrated, but enough people disagree that several states voted it as their best burger joint. And I'll admit I do like any place where I can eat shelled peanuts while I wait for my main course.

It’s been several years since I’ve been there, but a quick search of the Five Guys website tells me there doesn’t appear to be any poultry offerings there. There's an opportunity.


When I read that seven states said their favorite burgers were from McDonald’s, it made me scratch my head. I mean, McDonald’s isn’t a place you go for fine cuisine. You get it because it’s quick, handy and cheap. Or you have a small child. That being said, I’ve had its newest chicken sandwich in its entry into the chicken sandwich wars, but when getting chicken there, I usually go for the more economical McChicken. I do see a void in its offerings, and really hope there will someday be a turkey burger at McDonald’s.


Wendy’s was pretty well represented on this list. While I put Wendy’s in a similar category with McDonald’s, I do like their chicken offerings and have them more often than beef offerings there. Since it’s Wendy’s I’m discussing, I think it’s appropriate to pretend I’m a little old lady shouting, “Where’s the turkey?!”


Only one state rated Hardee’s as its favorite. I, too, love Hardee’s. And one thing I love about Hardee’s is its turkey burger. Typically I will either get one of those or the roast beef sandwich, and I seldom deviate.

Burger King

You may have read about Burger King’s recent efforts to reinvigorate itself, including the Royal Crispy Chicken Sandwich. The last time I ate at Burger King, I had a Rodeo Cheeseburger and Chicken Fries. So both proteins were offered and consumed.


Only one state named Culver’s as its favorite place for burgers, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s Wisconsin. I’ll eat anything they serve me at Culver’s and will most definitely save room for ice cream. However, there aren’t any within several hours of where I live, so this is a travel treat. There are chicken offerings there, but because of my relative unfamiliarity with the chain, I’ll leave it to others to assess.


I’ve only eaten at Krystal, largely a regional chain, twice. And once was for breakfast. But it does appear there are quite a few chicken offerings there.

In-N-Out Burger

I’ve never eaten at one of these establishments, but it doesn’t appear you will find poultry there. A TikTok video that earlier alleged there were chicken sandwiches offered there turned out to be a hoax. There’s an opportunity.

Shake Shack

Also making the list in a couple of states was Shake Shack. Again, I’ve never eaten there. But I do know Shake Shack permanently added chicken to its menu in 2016. However, the word “turkey” seems to be absent from its menu.

Page 1 of 105
Next Page