A regional cult favourite that most Americans have never heard of is now the most popular 'better burger' chain in the US

While much of the country has never even heard of it, love for Whataburger is a key Texan trait — and it’s paying off for the “better burger” chain. 

In the first three months of 2017, Whataburger triumphed over six of the largest fast-casual burger chains that were analysed by data analytics firm 1010data, garnering 44% of total transactions, or orders, over that time. 

In-N-Out took the No. 2 spot, with 26% of the market by transactions. Five Guys came in third place, with 12% of transactions. 

The average customer visited Whataburger four times in the three-month period, compared to 2.2 visits to In-N-Out and 1.6 visits to Five Guys. 

The first Whataburger opened in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1950. Legend has it that its founder, Harmon Dobson, wanted to create a hamburger that caused customer to cry out: “What a burger!” 

“This tiny burger stand offered something people had never seen: a burger that was so big, they had to hold its five-inch bun with two hands,” the Whataburger website reads.

The chain is known for its iconic Whataburger and its variations, such as the jalapeno and cheese and triple-meat versions. All burgers can be customised, as noted in the chain’s “just like you like it slogan.” 

In addition to its burgers, Whataburger serves “Whatachicken” sandwiches, patty melts, fries, and onion rings.

There’s also a breakfast menu, which features a vast array of menu items, including taquitos, chicken biscuits, and pancakes. 

“I’m impressed with Whataburger. Its menu is rather expansive for a burger joint, offering many other melts and chicken sandwiches as well as burgers, and the prices are average,” Business Insider’s Hollis Johnson wrote in his review of the chain. “The burgers themselves aren’t outstanding, but the option to customise the toppings to such a degree certainly is.”

In addition to its menu, Whataburger has become well-known for its architecture. Locations are instantly recognisable thanks to their A-frame design and orange-and-white colour scheme. 

While Whataburger has expanded outside of Texas, the majority of the chain’s locations are still in its home state. That’s part of what makes the chain so popular.

While West Coast burger-lovers flock to In-N-Out, Texans remain loyal to Whataburger. In 2001, the chain was officially declared a “Texas Treasure” by the state’s government

“For fast food, it’s all very civilized,” Lisa Fain wrote in a Bon Appétit article headlined “Why Texans Will Ride or Die for Whataburger.” “And reliable food and late-night indulgences aside, perhaps this is the key as to why Whataburger is so beloved — it treats the customers with respect and ensures that everyone feels welcome.”

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