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Chick-fil-A is still America's favorite fast food chain — but not everyone agrees

It's not the largest chain in the U.S., but apparently it's the most beloved.
Getty Images/Chick-fil-A
/ Source: TODAY

For the fourth year in a row, Americans have chosen a chicken chain over burger places as the country's top spot for fast food.

Chick-fil-A has been named the top quick-service chain in the country, according to the American Customer Service Index (ACSI), which uses feedback from almost 23,000 consumers to compile its rankings each year.

A lot of people clearly love Chick-fil-A but why do they love it so, so much?

The ACSI scores restaurants on a 100-point scale and this year Chick-fil-A scored an 86, which was actually a point lower than its score in 2018.

But the chain is growing steadily and has generated more than $10 billion in sales this year, the third-highest amount in the industry, even though it's only open six days a week (the chain is notably closed on Sundays to give workers a day with their families).

Many social media users agreed with the restaurant's ranking, applauding the chain's customer service, flavorful (and unlimited) sauce offerings and, of course, its juicy chicken.

The second-highest score, 82, was given to "all other restaurants," which is a representative average score applied to all other quick-service eateries that weren't big enough to be ranked individually among the other chains.

Third place went to Panera, which earned an 81. Four big chains — Arby's, Chipotle, Papa John's and Pizza Hut — all tied for fourth.

Restaurants were ranked in categories like accuracy and quality of food orders, the variety of items available on the menu, cleanliness of restaurants, behavior of the staff and website satisfaction.

Of course, the announcement has been met with some backlash as not everyone is a big fan of the chicken chain. Notably, some on social media called attention to some of the headline-making controversies that have surrounded the fast-food chain, particularly concerning its reported donations to anti-LGBTQ+ groups.

This year, the lowest-ranked restaurant on the ACSI list was McDonald's, which scored a 69. The average score for chains measured was 79. But the Big Mac certainly isn't going anywhere anytime soon, as McDonald's has seen big sales growth increases over the past few months, due in large part to its new Quarter Pounder that's now made with fresh beef.

As technology becomes more central to these restaurants' operations, it's expected that the rankings may change based on the times. McDonald's just spent nearly $300 million on a product that uses artificial intelligence to create a more personalized drive-thru experience, while Sonic is testing AI-powered menus. Several other chains are trying out self-order kiosks, further eliminating the need for an actual human to facilitate taking orders and operating a cash register.

While restaurant technology and restaurant services are always evolving, one former trend has since become a mainstay in the fast food scene. ACSI data showed that customers who order food for delivery are more satisfied than those who dine in.