The top three pizza chains have had more than just big sales this year. Pizza Hut, Domino's and Papa John's were the top three searched restaurants, respectively, on Google in 2011.
Google today released its 11th annual Zeitgeist list, ranking the most popular and the fastest-rising search terms.
As part of the broader lifestyle category, the top 10 restaurants searched in the U.S. this year were:
- Pizza Hut
- Papa John's
- Olive Garden
- Jimmy John's
- Buffalo Wild Wings
Up and comers
Globally, a couple of quick-service and fast casual brands were listed among the fastest-rising food and drink terms searched. Wendy's topped the list, perhaps piquing curiosity from its recent expansion, remodeling and menu enhancement efforts.
Little Caesars is No. 3, followed by Chick-fil-A. At No. 7 is Jimmy John's, followed by Buffalo Wild Wings (No. 8) and Popeyes' Louisiana Kitchen (No. 9).
The global search included countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand).
Search results of note
Pizza, in general, was the top searched food and drink item in Singapore, Germany and Mexico. This is likely good news for California Pizza Kitchen and Chuck E. Cheese's, both of which have expanded their footprints in Mexico in the past few months.
Speaking of, American consumers seem to be craving Mexican food. The cuisine was the No. 7 most searched term on Google Maps, behind IKEA, veterinarians and airports.
The top searched item in the food category in New Zealand was the "Double Down Burger."
KFC's Double Down made its debut in New Zealand in May and, according to Google's search results, its popularity from the U.S. and Canada translated down under. The bun-less burger broke sales records when it rolled out in the U.S. and Canada, and became the most successful sandwich launch in KFC history. More than 10 million Double Downs were sold in the U.S. in the first month alone and it became Canada's best selling new menu item after 360,000 burgers were sold in the first 10 days.
In a "one of these things is not like the other" finish, the "Happy Meal" was on the top 10 list (No. 9) in France, behind local staples, including the Marmiton Recette and Recette Crepe.
The top general terms include Rebecca Black, Google+, Ryan Dunn, Casey Anthony, Battlefield 3, iPhone 5, Adele, ?? ?? (TEPCO) Fukushima Plant, Steve Jobs and the iPad 2.
Read more about trends and statistics.
Alicia Kelso has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.