Super-Size No Longer: Subway Surpasses McDonald’s as World’s Largest Restaurant Chain

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A Subway restaurant in Bowling Green, Ohio.

J.D. Pooley / Getty Images

Those ubiquitous golden arches have been eclipsed by the dawn of five-dollar footlongs.

At the end of 2010, Subway tallied more restaurants than McDonald’s, giving them the honor of the largest restaurant chain in the world. A Subway spokesman counted their 33,749 eateries versus Mickey D’s 32,737. The numbers were made official in a Securities and Exchange Commission document.

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McDonald’s is taking the news introspectively, saying they “are committed to being better, not just bigger.” Most fast-food companies are pursuing aggressive international development campaigns, and the burger chain wins on that front. McDonald’s has a presence in 117 countries, while Subway cites franchises in just 95. What’s more, neither restaurant can stand up to the giant Yum! Brands, owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, to name a few. The company has a surely enviable 38,000 franchises across the world.

But Subway, as the largest single restaurant, can enjoy its current view from the top. The sandwich maker gained fame with spokesman Jared Fogle, a man who formerly wore 62-inch pants. And it appears Subway is now wearing the pants in the restaurant industry.

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