Would you like facts with that? While drive-thru restaurants have been a staple of the national landscape for over half a century, there was once a time before these majestic purveyors of food delivery convenience. Sad, sad times they were. To honor these modern miracles, we’ve scraped together a bundle of facts like so many loose french fries from the bottom of the bag. So buckle up, place your order, and pull up to the second window.
1. The First Drive-Thru Opened In 1947
That’s right, the same year your Grand Pappy was born. Except it wasn’t a McDonalds: it was Red’s Giant Hamburg in Springfield, Missouri. Conveniently located on Route 66 (a.k.a. the Main street of America), this burger joint bucked the trend of car-hops and pointed the way toward fast food’s future.
2. McDonald’s Didn’t Have Drive-Thrus Until 1975
This one’s hard to believe… we would have spit out our vanilla shakes if they weren’t permanently stuck to our McRibs. McDonald’s was actually a late arrival in the drive-thru revolution, opening their first drive thru opened in 1975 in Sierra Vista, Arizona. Other fast food titans like Jack in the Box, In-n-Out, and Maid-Rite had already been all-in on the motorcade munchy game for decades.
3. The Early Afternoon Is The Quickest And Friendliest Time To Drive-Thru
Thankfully, the fastest and friendliest drive-thru service times coincide. If you happen to drive through a fast food joint in the early afternoon, you’ll have the easiest, breeziest time getting your food. Think of the window between lunch and dinner — that’s your sweet spot.
4. Wendy’s Has The Quickest Service
Averaging about 130 seconds, Wendy’s can give you a frosty and a perplexingly square, yet delicious, burger in just a little over two minutes — the fastest of any major drive-thru chain. Burger King (averaging a minute more) has the slowest service on average.
5. Chick-fil-A Is The Most Accurate
If you ask for a specific dipping sauce, you want that specific dipping sauce, right? Well, then get in your coupe and head on over to Chick-fil-A, where they have the most accurate service, nailing 92% of orders. That’s better than you’ve ever done on a science test. Also, sorry, Burger King: your beefy crowns can’t hide the fact that you also have the least accurate service, only successfully filling 82% of orders. (But that’s still better than you’ve ever done on a science test.)
6. 70% Of Fast Food Business Is Sold Through Drive-Thrus
Photo Credit: Tim Malone
Well, this is just reasonable. Are you going to risk walking into a fast food restaurant and having someone judge you for still being in your pajamas at noon? No, you’re just going to pull up and order, since both legs and human interaction are extremely overrated.
7. Drive-Thrus Aren’t Just for Fast Food
Photo Credit: Roy Luck
Yes, we love our burgers and fries, but we love their convenience a little bit more. That’s why people have adapted the drive-thru model to all sorts of interesting businesses, and we’re not just talking about wedding chapels. Here’s a short rundown of some of the more unusual (read: hilarious) ones:
- Strip Club
- Funeral Parlor
- Prayer Booth
- Christmas Nativity (Sorry, only seasonally)
- Contemporary Art Gallery
- Liquor and Gun Store
- And, in case all of the rest of those go horribly wrong, a Law Firm