18 Fast Food Chains That Defined the ‘90s

Wondering which fast food chains were popular in the ‘90s? You may be surprised to find that many are still ruling today! In this article, we’re sharing 18 fast food chains that not only served up meals but also defined the cultural tastes of the ‘90s, from Pizza Hut to Popeyes!


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Still incredibly popular today, McDonald’s dominated the ‘90s with Happy Meals, playgrounds, and the introduction of unique items like the McStuffin. It became a cultural icon with its characters like Ronald McDonald, appealing heavily to families, and was known for its consistency and nationwide presence.

Burger King

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Burger King emphasized customer customization and became huge when it introduced the iconic Whopper, remaining popular throughout the ‘90s up until today. It was appealing to those looking for a personalized fast food experience and known for its flame-grilled burgers, which stood out with their taste and the “Have it your way” slogan.

Taco Bell

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According to Fox Business, Taco Bell already had 100 stores in the United States by 1967. By the ‘90s, it was a much-loved fast food chain. Taco Bell made Mexican-inspired cuisine mainstream with affordable and creative items like volcano burritos and gorditas, and it was known for its quirky and youthful marketing strategies.


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Another chain restaurant still popular today that was as popular in the ‘90s is KFC. It captured family dining with its buckets of delicious fried chicken and top-secret mix of spices. The chicken franchise expanded globally, appealing to a wide audience with its comforting and familiar flavors.

Pizza Hut

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Back in the ‘90s, Pizza Hut led the pizza industry with innovations like stuffed crust pizza and engaging promotions like the “Book It!” program. It was known for its family-friendly dining experience and buffet options, and it has remained a favorite for its thick, cheesy pizzas and relaxed dining atmosphere.


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Surprised to see another familiar name on this list? Subway was another fast food chain that defined the ‘90s, promoting a healthier fast food option with customizable sandwiches and fresh ingredients. It grew rapidly due to its “eat fresh” philosophy, appealing to health-conscious consumers.

Domino’s Pizza

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Domino’s revolutionized pizza delivery back in the day with its “30 minutes or less” guarantee and introduced online ordering during the late ‘90s, staying ahead in the digital space. According to Domino’s itself, “During the 1990s, Domino’s entered 40 international markets, including Eastern Europe and Africa.” It had become popular all over the world!


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Known for its fresh, square-shaped hamburgers and Frosty treats, Wendy’s was very popular in the ‘90s, perhaps even more than it is today! It promoted higher quality fast food, with the slogan “Where’s the beef?” capturing significant media attention.


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Arby’s differentiated itself with a focus on roast beef sandwiches, appealing to those seeking alternatives to traditional burgers. It was a staple in the ‘90s, utilizing the slogan “We have the meats,” which emphasized the variety and quality of its offerings.

Little Caesars

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Another iconic fast food chain of the ‘90s is Little Caesars, which popularized the “Pizza! Pizza!” 2-for-1 deal—a hit among budget-conscious families. It was also known for its convenience with its Hot-N-Ready pizzas, appealing to those in need of quick meal options.

Dairy Queen

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As shared by Mashed, when Dairy Queen’s “Blizzard” joined the menu in 1985, people were absolutely taken with the frozen treat, making it a staple throughout the ‘90s and beyond. The chain also offered savory fast food items, but it was (and still is) primarily recognized for its contributions to dessert.


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Hardee’s underwent branding changes in the ‘90s, focusing on thicker, more premium burgers. It was known for its hearty meals and robust breakfast menu, differentiating itself from competitors. It also built a reputation for quality and substantial portions, appealing to a mature demographic.

Jack in the Box

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As a fast food chain, Jack in the Box has had its ups and downs over the years but was a defining restaurant in the ‘90s. It offered an elaborate menu that included items like tacos and egg rolls, standing out for its variety. It was also known for quirky and controversial marketing campaigns that captured attention.

Carl’s Jr.

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Known for bold flavors and substantial meal options, Carl’s Jr. catered to those seeking a hearty fast food experience. It offered charbroiled burgers and introduced iconic menu items like the grilled cheese bacon burger, utilizing distinctive advertising strategies to enhance its brand identity.


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“In 1999, Popeyes celebrated making over $1 billion in annual sales,” as per Where Y’at. It introduced the fast-food scene to Louisiana-style grub with its spicy, crispy chicken and tasty sides like red beans and rice. Popeyes gained a loyal following with its focus on rich, flavorful food that stood apart from typical fast food chicken offerings.


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This fast food chain offered a one-of-a-kind carhop service, providing a nostalgic dining experience reminiscent of earlier decades. It was known for an extensive menu of drinks and snacks, catering to a wide range of tastes, and has remained popular in regions with a preference for drive-in dining and retro experiences.


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While unfortunately not very popular today, Quiznos gained popularity in the ‘90s with its toasted subs, setting itself apart from other sandwich chains with a focus on gourmet recipes. It was loved for its quality ingredients and chef-inspired menu options.

Long John Silver’s

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In the 1990s, this spot stood out as a high-quality chain for seafood, with unique offerings like battered fish and seafood platters. It filled a niche in the fast food market, appealing to seafood lovers looking for quick service options.

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