Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s, both owned by private equity firm Roark Capital, were the only other baked goods franchises to land in the top 100.
Entrepreneur Magazine bases its rankings on a series of data points that gauge operational costs, franchise fees, size, growth, brand strength as well as financial stability. More than a fifth of the companies that applied for the power ranking were food-based franchises. Ultimately, 200 ended up in the final list of 500 brands.
At number two overall was Dunkin’ and, though listed under the coffee sub-category, recently dropped the ‘Donuts’ from its official name in an effort to rebrand as a purveyor of more than just the sweet pastry. Founded in 1946 by an entrepreneur who delivered meals and snacks to workers in Boston, Massachusetts, today Dunkin’ sells a variety of baked goods at more than 12k stores in 30 countires.
Cinnabon came in at 74 overall but first in the baking subcategory, with more than 1,500 franchised stores that can be found almost evenly in the US and around the world.
The only other baking franchise to make the top 100 was Auntie Anne’s at 79. Of its nearly 2k locations, about 1,300 are located in the US.
Sweet baked goods on the scene
Cookies, donuts and other pretzel chains were also among the 200 foodservice chains included in the list.
Great American Cookies was listed as the third-highest bakery franchise, with more than 375 stores. The Kolache Factory, which serves up pastries stuffed with fruit, cheese or meat that originated in Central and Eastern Europe, was fourth among bakery chains – despite only having only 56 locations.
Three more donut chains made the list: Duck Donuts, which started in North Carolina but has since moved its headquarters to Pennsylvania; Texas-based Shipley Do-Nuts; and Peace Love and Little Donuts, a shop based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that creates slightly under-sized cake donuts.
Pretzels also proved to be popular, with Wetzel’s Pretzels, Ben’s Soft Pretzels, Pretzelmaker and Philly Pretzel Factory all finding a home in Entrepreneur’s ranking.