Fun facts on National Drive-Thru Day


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — It’s National Drive-Thru Day!

The “holiday” is observed every year on July 24 and celebrates the popularity of restaurants that serve customers on the go.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the first drive-thru service is believed to have been at Red’s Giant Hamburg on Route 66 in Springfield, Missouri in 1947. At that time, drive-in restaurants were popular, with the serving staff rolling around on skates to deliver food to cars.

Here are some more fun facts according to National Day Calendar and Time:

  • There are more than 211,000 fast food restaurants in the United States.
  • The drive-thru format was pioneered in the United States for banking services.
  • Hamburgers sold for just 18 cents at some of the first drive-thru restaurants.
  • Restaurants, coffee shops, liquor stores, pharmacies and many more services utilize drive-thrus for quick service.
  • The drive-thru is getting slower – an annual study from QSR Magazine noted the average wait time in 2013 was 181 seconds, up from 173 seconds.
  • Midafternoon is when drive-thrus are fastest and friendliest.
  • The longest-running burger drive-thru goes to the original In-N Out Burger. It opened in 1948 in the Los Angeles area.
  • Jack in the Box was the first drive-thru focused chain. It opened in 1951.
  • McDonald’s didn’t have a drive-thru until 1975.
  • Drive-thru design heavily influences what we order. Those appetizing photos of combo meals are prominently featured on drive-thru menu boards for a reason.
  • Panera studied drive-thrus for 10 years before opening one.
  • Chipotle is a drive-thru holdout, and may never give in.

Today, drive-thru services are a feature of more than 220,000 fast food restaurants nationwide, which employ over 3.5 million people and generate more than $185 billion in sales each year.

You tell us: What’s your go-to drive-thru spot?

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