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Peter Rugg

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Fast Food Politics: Chains That Don't Support Republican Ideals

Posted: 09/25/2012 9:08 am

Lately it seems restaurants that rely on the 99 percent for their business are only interested in donating those profits to politicians supporting the policies of rich, straight, white people. Chick-fil-A is homophobic and Papa John's promises to charge customers extra for a slice of wet cheese on white bread if everyone has health care. Even Cinnabon is owned by an investment firm named after Ayn Rand protagonist Howard Roark -- for truly the Caramel Pecanbun has integrity like a man, and just as seldom.

Liberals can boycott delicious chicken sandwiches all they want, but if they need something cheap and fast they practically have to donate to Mitt Romney's campaign. According to campaign finance reports, most fast-food restaurants have a PAC, and overwhelmingly those committees donate to Republicans. In the interest of an informed electorate voting with their dollars, here are five fast-food restaurants that support liberal causes.

Popeye's Chicken
John Goodman makes a great Col. Sanders eager to cash in on Chick-fil-A's homophobia in Funny or Die videos. But in truth KFC-owned Yum! Brand's gave 81 percent of their donations to conservatives in 2012. If you want a business that truly shows no sign of being ideologically opposed to your gay chicken money, go to Popeye's. While the company doesn't have a PAC to track, company chair John M. Cranor III donates to Democrat politicians in his home state of Florida. He also serves on the board of the National Stem Cell Foundation, with the shockingly reasonable mission to fund, promote and support research. That puts him in opposition to Republican veep nominee Paul Ryan who's voted against promoting stem cell research four times in the House. Plus, they're open on Sunday.

Dairy Queen
It's been said some achievements transcend the mundane vagaries of politics and belong to the ages. Perhaps Beethoven's fifth, or Marcel Proust's sweet and terrible meditations on the nature of man grappling with his own memories in "In Search of Lost Time." But certainly The Dairy Queen Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard. It's so wonderful that the greatest investor of all-time wanted it in his portfolio. Warren Buffet's Berskshire Hathaway acquired DQ in 1998. The Oracle of Omaha backed Barack Obama in his first run and has supported higher taxes on the one percent, of whom he is certainly a member.

Checkers
If you're lucky enough to live in one of the 28 states that has a Checkers you know the simple midnight joy of fumbling a paper bag from the drive-through window into your car before it's disintegrated by French fry grease. Seemingly concerned normal fast-food provided too many frills, Checkers boiled the model down to the basics of two drive-through windows, late hours, and fat, greasy burgers. The company that owns them, Wellspring Capital, doesn't have a PAC but founding managing partner Greg S. Feldman contributes to Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Clyde Williams.

Panera Bread
The only restaurant on this list without a pick-up window, Panera Bread is still as much a fast-food place as anyone, albeit one where you can convincingly tell yourself the food is, if not healthy, at least further from horrible than a greasy spoon. Save yourself calories with the black bean soup and political guilt knowing that the company's founder and CEO Ronald M. Schaich has given $30,000 to the DNC and $5,000 to Barack Obama this election cycle.

Starbucks
The Seattle bean roasters have done well by progressive causes. They have fair trade products, a National Recycling Coalition Recycling Works Award for advances in food packaging, and they give out used grounds for composting upon request. For a while, CEO Howard Schultz was happy to pass some of the profits along to Democrats through the company's PAC and personal contributions to Barack Obama. Then in 2011, he issued a statement that he'd stop contributing to any politician long as they chose "to put partisan and ideological purity over the well-being of the people." Schultz finished his call to close checkbooks with a statement any reasonable person should agree with when looking to Washington D.C. over the last few years: "Our country is better than this."


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  • 10. Sonic

    America's Drive-In rounds out the top 10 with U.S. revenues of $3.6 billion.

  • 9. KFC

    KFC, the biggest chicken vendor in America, comes in ninth with revenues of $4.7 billion, though there were 107 fewer outposts in August 2011 than there were the year before.

  • 8. Pizza Hut

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/27/pizza-hut-ads_n_911106.html" target="_hplink">Good ads</a> equal big revenues for the biggest pizza chain in America. Pizza Hut took in a solid $5.4 billion in 2010.

  • 7. Dunkin Donuts

    America runs on Dunkin' to the tune of $6 billion a year -- that's almost $20 for each and every person in the country.

  • 6. Taco Bell

    2010 U.S. revenues of $6.9 billion make Taco Bell the biggest Mexican restaurant chain in the country.

  • 5. Starbucks

    Starbucks may have had a few hiccups <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/13/starbucks-bistro-boxes_n_897768.html" target="_hplink">when it comes to introducing food</a>. But its success in beverages has propelled American's biggest coffee purveyor into fifth place among fast food chains, with 2010 revenues of $7.6 billion.

  • 4. Wendy's

    Wendy's fries may be <a href="http://www.slashfood.com/2011/04/20/wendys-fries-vs-mcdonalds-fries-taste-test/" target="_hplink">number one</a>, but its revenues aren't there quite yet.

  • 3. Burger King

    Number two burger chain Burger King was sold for $3.26 billion to 3G Capital in 2009. 2010 revenues of $8.6 billion make that sound like a deal to us! (We know, we know, there's a difference between revenues and profits...)

  • 2. Subway

    Subway has the most outlets of any fast food brand; it expanded that total by 816 in the past year alone. But because each store is relatively small, revenues, at $10 billion, pale in comparison with those at the number one chain.

  • 1. McDonald's

    With revenues standing at a whopping $32.4 billion in 2010, the Golden Arches aren't being dethroned any time soon. What's surprising about its success is that per store sales at McDonald's are bigger than those even cult-ish brands with fewer outlets. With $2.4 million <em>per store</em>, they're second only to Chick Fil-A, which fans travel miles to visit.

 

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