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Hot Dogs, Burgers and Ice Cream Make the Perfect Summertime Eats: CHD Expert Evaluates the Summer Dining Landscape of the United States

When the summer season rolls around many Americans reach for a few staple foods to help with fun in the sun – hot dogs, hamburgers, and ice cream.

(Chicago, IL – July 27, 2016) –  This July 4th, at Nathan’s Famous 100th Anniversary Hot Dog Eating Contest, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut set a world record eating 70 hot dogs in 10 minutes. And while that’s more hot dogs than many Americans would eat in a year, there is no doubt that America loves hot dogs in the summer.

CHD Expert, the Chicago-based foodservice database and analytics firm, has released the latest data around the landscape of restaurants that cater to the tastes of the summer season: hot dogs, as well as hamburgers and ice cream.

With a new culinary revolution happening across the country, Americans are expanding their palates like never before. From modern innovations to acceptance of foreign traditional cuisines, American diners are being exposed to all sorts of different delicious food. But sometimes, especially during summer time, Americans prefer something tried and true.

In 2013, online food ordering service Seamless reported that, according to their internal customer data, hamburgers had dethroned hot dogs as America’s favorite summer food. According to data from CHD Expert, as of June 2016, there were just over 1,600 hot dog restaurants in the United States, including of course Nathan’s Famous, which has been in Coney Island for 100 years. However, the states with the largest percentage of hot dog restaurants as percentage of their total restaurant landscape are Texas, Illinois, Michigan, West Virginia, and North Carolina.

When it comes to hamburger restaurants, the landscape is broader, and bigger. As of June 2016, there are over 49,000 hamburger restaurants in the United States. With hamburgers gaining increased ground in the American culinary landscape over the past decade, both large chains and independents have made strides in innovating this summertime staple.

According to CHD Expert’s data, Hamburger is the fourth most prevalent menu type in the USA making up 7.2 percent of the restaurant landscape, after Pizzeria and before Sandwich. The Hot Dog menu type represents is the 34th most prevalent, representing about 0.25 percent of the landscape. Ice cream/ Dairy menu type is 11th on the list representing 3 percent of the market.

When broken down by segment, 4 percent of hamburger restaurants are Full Service Restaurants and 96 percent are Limited Service Restaurants. Limited Service Restaurants (LSR) are defined as establishments where food is purchased at a counter. Full Service Restaurants (FSR) offer table service and operate with a wait staff.

According to CHD Expert’s data, 95 percent of hamburger FSRs are Independent, whereas just 11 percent of hamburger LSRs are Independent. CHD Expert classifies an independent restaurant as a restaurant brand that has less than nine units in operation. Overall, chains currently dominate the hamburger menu type in the US, accounting for 96 percent of the total hamburger restaurant landscape.

Independent hamburger restaurants often challenge their larger chain competitors by offering high-end ingredients, uncommon or specialized toppings, and an overall gourmet experience – but this gourmet treatment comes at a price.

The average check at 75 percent of hamburger restaurants in the US is $5 – $7, whereas more gourmet burgers at restaurants such as Grub Burger Bar in Atlanta or The Bowery in Los Angeles might include an average check of $15 – $20 (1%) or $20 – $30 (.08%).

Adventurous diners with deep pockets can also head to Las Vegas for one of the most expensive burgers in the nation: the $5,000 “FleurBurger 5000” at Fleur by Hubert Keller. The burger consists of Wagyu beef and comes topped with foie gras and truffles; it is served with a bottle of 1995 Chateau Petrus.

Those uninterested in paying premium prices can still easily find a more budget-friendly, yet still delicious burger. In figure one, see the top five states with the highest percentage of hamburger menu types among their restaurant landscape.

Figure 1: Top 5 States with the highest percentage of hamburger menu types among the restaurant landscape.

Hamburger restaurants are some of the nation’s most rapidly growing chains. Shake Shack for example has gone from just a few Manhattan locations, to now having 50 restaurants across the USA, in addition to locations in the Middle East, Japan, Russia and the UK. In recent years remarkable growth has also been achieved by Smashburger, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Stakeburgers, The Habit, and of course Five Guys.

After indulging in a delicious burger, there are more after-dinner dessert options than there are flavors at Baskin-Robbins. Last year a study from Yahoo! Food reported that ice cream had been named America’s favorite dessert. As summer 2016 sizzles on, it’s likely that many Americans will reach for a frozen treat at some point in the season, particularly because it is an affordable choice, with the average check at 51 percent of these establishments being $5 – $7.

According to CHD Expert’s data, there are more than 19,500 Ice Cream/Dairy operators in the United States, all of which are classified as Limited Service Restaurants. Of these, 68 percent have been in business for 5+ years while 25 percent have been open 2 – 5 years.

Chains make up a substantial portion of the Frozen Desserts restaurant landscape, at 67 percent. Top chains for this menu type, based on number of units, include Dairy Queen (34%), Baskin-Robbins (17%), Cold Stone Creamery (7%), Rita’s Ice (5%), and Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt (3%).

You might believe that the states with the highest percentage of Frozen Dessert menu types among their restaurant landscape would be in the hotter western and southern states, but according to data from CHD Expert this isn’t the case. See Figure 2 for the top 5 states.

Figure 2: Top 5 States with the highest percentage of Frozen Dessert menu types among the restaurant landscape.

Whether a restaurant is grilling up burgers or scooping ice cream, the trend is toward delivering a unique and “better” customer experience through high-quality and, in some cases, specialty ingredients. Foodservice providers that sell products and services that can assist these restaurants in gaining an edge on the competition shouldn’t ignore this uniquely American opportunity.

“Burgers, hotdogs and desserts are closely tied to the culinary heritage of the United States. They are also a multi-billion dollar business,” said Catherine Kearns, General Manager at CHD Expert The Americas. “Going out for a burger or an ice cream can be both a nostalgic or a novel experience, and these timeless joys help keep American families grounded amidst all of the drama that consumes our daily lives. Taking the family for an ice cream on a warm summer night is an American right of passage, and we are glad to report this tradition is still strong.”

To obtain detailed information on the foodservice industry landscape in the United States, or foodservice data in general, please contact Brad Bloom: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


About CHD North America

For 20 years, CHD Expert has been the global leader in collecting, managing, and analyzing data for the Away-From-Home Foodservice Market. With over 5 Million operator records across 50 countries, CHD Expert helps organizations understand the foodservice industry landscape and leverage data to drive revenue.

Our service offerings range from providing raw data to turn key solutions, including: data records and analysis via attribute and segmentation filter combinations; call center solutions for foodservice market research, lead generation and appointment setting; email and direct mail campaigns, ad hoc reports on any foodservice region or segment, access to foodservice supply chain members from manufacturers to end users.

For additional information, please visit https://www.chd-expert.com or call 1-888-243-0154.