Which Restaurants Are Most Mentioned In Song Lyrics?

by Carl Wiser

Katy Perry mentions McDonald's, Beyoncé calls out Red Lobster, and Supertramp shouts out Taco Bell - we found the 10 restaurants most often mentioned in songs.

Which restaurants get the most mentions in song lyrics? For the most part, the ones that are most popular, but singability, cultural cachet and longevity have a lot to do with it. There are a few that get namechecked in greater proportion to their market share, and others that barely register - Panera Bread gets only crumbs, and Arby's mentions are far from meaty (we're still waiting for someone to get "Jamocha Shake" into a couplet).

Some restaurants have names that are just too generic; mentions of "subway" almost always refer to an actual subway, and when "foot-long" shows up, it's rarely about a sandwich. "Wendy's" is more common lyrically in reference to a girl. "Dunkin'" means basketball, not donuts.

Our methodology: query our lyrics database (powered by Lyricfind) and rank each restaurant by mentions.
#1 McDonald's
Approximate mentions: 345
McDonald's is by far the biggest restaurant chain in the world by market share, and its musical mentions are just as gaudy. It's the only restaurant to show up in lots of lyrics not just with its name, but also with its proprietary products: Big Macs, Happy Meals and Chicken McNuggets. And as you'll see below, there is even a smattering of songs specifically about McDonald's.

A tasting:

"Big Mac" – The Village People (1981)
Nothing's better than a Big Mac

"Power And The Passion" - Midnight Oil (1982)
Flat chat, Pine Gap, in every home a Big Mac
And no one goes outback, that's that

(Big Mac attack in the Outback! McDonald's musical influence extends into Australia.)

"You Be Illin'" - Run-DMC (1986)
He gave a quarter and his order, small fries, Big Mac!
(Thanks to a marketing legend named Tom Burrell, McDonald's ran many successful ad campaigns targeted to the black community, making it the fast food destination of choice for hip-hop pioneers like Run-DMC.)

"Parents Just Don't Understand" – DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (1988)
We hit McDonald's, pulled into the drive
We ordered two Big Macs and two large fries with Cokes

"We Got Our Own Thang" - Heavy D (1989)
You're a Chicken McNugget and I'm a Big Mac
(Has there ever been a better food-related put-down?)

"Rock and Roll McDonald's" – Wesley Willis (1995)
McDonald's is a place to Rock
It is a restaurant where they find food to eat

"Single Father" - Kid Rock (2003)
We go to McDonald's
Or I buy him a train
And we go put it together

"Parking Lot" – Nivea (2005)
Meet me at the McDonald's parking lot
before it gets too late, I can't wait
It's just around my way

"Watching You" – Rodney Atkins (2006)
Driving through town, just my boy and me
With a Happy Meal in his booster seat
Knowing that he couldn't' have the toy 'till his nuggets were gone

"Ur So Gay" - Katy Perry (2008)
You're so sad maybe you should buy a Happy Meal
You're so skinny you should really Super Size the deal

"Happy Meal" - Marina & The Diamonds (2012)
You're not even steak
You're a Happy Meal
Just lay there on a plate

"Struggle" – Migos (2014)
I remember 10-piece Chicken Nuggets from McDonalds
I remember Mama said, "get up, go get that money"

"Hotel Crazy" - Robbie Williams (2016)
I'm a Big Mac short of a Happy Meal
Not sure what to say or how to feel

#2: Kentucky Fried Chicken/KFC
Approx. mentions: 250
Back when we could smoke on airplanes, fast food places didn't have to worry about health concerns. But in 1991, after 39 years in business, Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC, responding to the call for healthier fare, even at the low end of the industry. (That same year, McDonald's introduced the McLean Deluxe, which quickly McFlopped.)

The two generations are documented musically in a surprising number of songs, including one that is also on the previous list.

"You Be Illin'" - Run DMC (1986)
One day when I was chillin' in Kentucky Fried Chicken
Just mindin' my business, eatin' food and finger lickin'

"Night Of The Living Rednecks" - Dead Kennedys (1987)
I waited, walked down about a block to
where the Kentucky Fried Chicken is, on Burnside

"Same In The End" - Sublime (1996)
Kentucky Fried Chicken is all I see
It's a hellified way to start your day

"Touch The Sky" - Kanye West (2005)
Me and my girl split the buffet at KFC

"My Better Half" - Bo Burnham (2007)
With all those trips to KFC you eat out more than me
(The song is about his 350-pound lover.)

"Non-Dairy Creamer" - Third Eye Blind (2009)
They call it KFC, 'cause its not really chicken
(KFC insists it is.)

"Little Johnny" - Kendrick Lamar (2012)
More gangster under the family tree
Took 'em under his wing like KFC

#3 Burger King
Approx. Mentions: 240
Not everyone prefers McDonald's. As Rob Base put it, "I like the Whopper, f--k the Big Mac" ("It Takes Two" - 1988).

The #2 burger joint is #3 on this list, with plenty of tasty mentions. Many though, are less than appetizing.

"Oh Oh I Love Her So" – The Ramones (1977)
I met her at the Burger King
We fell in love by the soda machine

"The Bristol Hotel" - LL Cool J (1987)
It ain't no thing
And her meat tastes better than Burger King

(Now you know why ladies love Cool James.)

"I Ain't Tha 1" – N.W.A (1988)
And after the date, I'ma do the wild thing
You want lobster? I'm thinking Burger King

"The Humpty Dance" – Digital Underground (1990)
I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom

"Real Slim Shady" – Eminem (2000)
He could be working at Burger King
Spittin' on your onion rings

"Qué Onda Guero" - Beck (2005)
Sleeping on the sidewalk with a Burger King crown

"Money" – Blake Shelton (2017)
Shakin' down the couch, found a Buffalo nickel
Medium guitar pick, Burger King pickle

#4 Starbucks
Approx. Mentions: 220
A lot happens in Starbucks: job interviews, Tinder dates, meetups... there are plenty of song scenarios. It's also a handy stereotype to indicate the kind of person who likes expensive coffee ordered in quasi-Italian sizes from a national behemoth.

A song that's not on this list: "Blank Space" by Taylor Swift. What sounds like "All the lonely Starbucks lovers" is actually "Got a long list of ex-lovers."

"The Inevitable Return Of The Great White Dope" - Bloodhound Gang (2000)
I'm hard to come by like a straight guy working at Starbucks

"Plane" - Jason Mraz (2005)
You're looking so good in your Starbucks cup

"Starstruck" - Lady Gaga (2009)
She so star struck, the gal all stuck
I should have had an overdose too many Starbucks

(This is part of Flo Rida's verse.)

Weird Al

Most of Weird Al Yankovic's songs are about food, and he kicks out a lot of restaurant references. He even has a song called "Fast Food" where he mentions Burger King, Dairy Queen, KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Wendy's. We included his songs in the totals, but not in the breakdowns - there are just too many.
"Country Boy's World" - Jason Aldean (2010)
Never seen a one-light town 'til she moved down here
She said, "I'm so bored out of my mind
Need a Starbucks and a wifi"

"A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop" - Neil Young (2015)
If you don't like to rock Starbucks coffee shop
You better change your station, 'cause that ain't all that we got

(From his album The Monsanto Years, Young rails against maleficent corporations, brewing up a bitter line about Starbucks.)

"Morning In America" - Jon Bellion (2016)
Pour a little liquor in my Starbucks Venti
Just 11 when they said I had the ADD

"Lesson Learn'd" - Wu-Tang Clan (2017)
These white folks love me like a Starbucks

#5 Taco Bell
Approx. mentions: 145
Did you know that Taco Bell has been around since 1962? That accounts for its solid showing, plus it sings a lot better than "Applebee's."

"Gone Hollywood" - Supertramp (1979)
I'm in this dumb motel
Near the Taco Bell
Without a hope in hell

(This is the first track on Breakfast In America, one of the greatest rock albums ever made. The guy in the song goes to Hollywood for fame in fortune, but finds himself in an existential crisis when it doesn't work out.)

"Posse On Broadway" - Sir Mix-A-Lot (1993)
Now the posse's gettin' hungry, and Mix-a-Lot's treatin'
We stopped at Taco Bell, for some Mexican eatin'

"Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" - Primus (1995)
Along came Lou with the old baboon
And said "Recognize that smell?"
Smells like seven layers,
That beaver eats Taco Bell!

"B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)" - Outkast (2000)
Yo quiero Taco Bell, then I hit the border

"Glamorous" - Fergie (2006)
I still go to Taco Bell
Drive-thru, raw as hell

(It's still a better lyric than "My Humps.")

"I Know What I Am" - Band Of Skulls (2009)
Hotel, Taco Bell
I got the hit that you know damn well

"Long Burn The Fire" - Beastie Boys (2011)
Running wild like rats in the Taco Bell

"Why Do I Do" - Rehab (2012)
I woke up on the couch with a Taco Bell Crunch Wrap Supreme smashed all in the cushions

#6 Dairy Queen
Approx. mentions: 98
Their rival Tastee Freez has the most famous mention in this category: John Mellencamp's "Jack & Diane" ("Suckin' on a chili dog outside the Tastee Freez"). But DQ carries the weight of nostalgia, resulting in a hearty number of lyric appearances.

"Dairy Queen" - Indigo Girls (2004)
I heard that you were drunk and mean
Down at the Dairy Queen

"Serendipity" - Barenaked Ladies (2007)
You worked down at the Dairy Queen
We hit it off from the start
Now there's a blizzard in between
Frost inside a heart

A good reason to mention a restaurant in your song: free food. After Phil Vassar included the line "Domino's pizza in the candlelight" in his #1 Country hit "Just Another Day in Paradise," he earned VIP status there. "A lot of Domino's franchises just send me pizza, which I love," he told Songfacts. "I'm like, 'Thanks for the pizza,' and they're like, 'Thanks for the song.'"
"Chasin' Girls" - Rodney Atkins (2009)
Well time passed, I turned 16
Crusin' from the Sonic to the Dairy Queen

"This Could All Be Yours" - Guster (2010)
From the Dairy Queen to the head of the parade
In a blink your life could change

"Come On Down" - High Valley (2014)
Sign says, "Population: 2817"
One stoplight and a Dairy Queen

#7 Red Lobster
Approx. mentions: 81
Red Lobster is by far the smallest chain on this list, but they've earned an outsized number of mentions, including the Admiral's Feast of placements when Beyoncé debuted her song "Formation," with the line, "When he f--k me good I take his ass to Red Lobster," at the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show.

"Big Ole Butt" – LL Cool J (1989)
I went to Red Lobster for shrimp and steak
Around the time when the waitresses are on their lunch break

"Right Now" – Nappy Roots (2003)
Now if the world was my oyster
Baby girl every day could be Red Lobster

"Baby" – Pharrell Williams (2006)
Why ain't we somewhere hot for the weekend?
Seafood eatin', I heard you like Red Lobster

"Colors" – Jay Rock (2009)
Give yo' ass a blood bath if you ever disrespect.
Red Lobster, you a small fish walking through my set

(Lil Wayne and Kendrick Lamar are also on this track.)

"Altogether Ooky" – Bloodhound Gang (2010)
Caught you sniffing my boxers
Who the f--k does that at Red Lobster?

"All I Had" – Trey Songz (2016)
Told you when I started all I had was a dollar
Tryna put the cheese with the bread, Red Lobster

#8 Pizza Hut
Approx. mentions: 52
Pizza hut, the market leader and most venerable pizza chain (founded in 1958) has a much bigger slice than rivals like Domino's, Papa John's and Little Caesars when it comes to lyrics.

"(Nothing But) Flowers" – Talking Heads (1988)
This was a Pizza Hut
Now it's all covered with daisies

"Palmdale" – Afroman (2000)
Bought a cell phone, like a nut
Now I deliver like Pizza Hut

"Give Me Back My Hometown" – Eric Church (2014)
My friends try to cheer me up
Get together at the Pizza Hut
I didn't have the heart to tell them that was our place

"Chinese Slippers" – Princess Nokia (2017)
'Bout to light it up, and I'm high as f--k
Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut

#9 Chick-fil-A
Approx. mentions: 39
Chick-fil-A's appeal can be summed up in the Brad Paisley/Carrie Underwood duet "High Life," where at the end of the song, they talk about how much they love it:

Underwood: "Man I love those waffle fries. That Chick-fil-A has got some good waffle fries."

Paisley: "I like the Polynesian sauce."

Chick-fil-A has an ardent following, especially in the American South. A Christian company, they're not open on Sundays, which makes a good lyrical talking point.

"Army" – Ben Folds Five (1999)
Grew a mustache and a mullet
Got a job at Chick-fil-A

"14 Block" – Jeezy (2014)
This work s--t is in my resumé
Brand new chickens all day like I'm Chick-fil-A.
Spot open up, weed given on the weekend
Even on Sunday unlike Chick-fil-A

"Tell Me What You Want for Christmas" – Chris August (2014)
I know what I want
I want some Chick-fil-A

"Buy Back The Block" – Rick Ross (2016)
I sold 10 bricks a day
But now I need 10 Chick-fil-A's

#10 Olive Garden
Approx. mentions: 27
Nothing says "I love you" like unlimited breadsticks. Olive Garden, a great value in gluttony, is often used in song as the setting for a cheap date. Most of its mentions have come in the era of social media, which has brought it into the cultural zeitgeist.

"The Black Bond" – Nas (2012)
Fine dining, Olive Garden
Nas is in the real deal
Food spots on the constant

"Acapella" - Karmin (2014)
Out on our first date, he took me gourmet
We hit that Olive Garden, my Little Italy

"Humbug" – Owl City (2016)
I could get her a gift card to Olive Garden
But what if Red Lobster is way more her thing?

"Weed & Coffee" – Mac Lethal (2016)
I be getting Whole Foods b--ches
You be getting Olive Garden b--tches with the bronzer

"Caroline" – Steve Martin and the Sleep Canyon Rangers (2017)
I was the almost-perfect boyfriend ever for you
And you even said that to me one time at the Olive Garden

"No Body, No Crime" – Taylor Swift (2020)
Este wasn't there Tuesday night at Olive Garden

October 18, 2016, updated December 12, 2020
Here's our list of songs with food in the title

More Song Writing

Comments: 1

  • Shawn from MarylandWhoa...White Castle didn't make the list. The Beastie Boys made a couple of references.
    In my head, I always think of LL Cool J's "Big Ole Butt" whenever Red Lobster is mentioned. ;-)
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