What’s popular in America?
January 18, 2012 by staff
Americans have no problem picking favorites. From rants on Facebook to “American Idol” voting, we know what we love and hate, and we’ll tell anyone who wants to listen. As a result, it’s pretty easy for researchers to get a good idea of the things America goes for….
Popularity is a funny thing. Fads pop in and out of style, but some of our biggest treasures are those that have survived the test of time. Consistency, quality and longevity are the keys to our hearts.
Most popular person in America
It’s hard to stay in the public’s good graces. Just ask Tiger Woods or Charlie Sheen.
But many models have truly stood the test of time to become the most popular people in America….
Abraham Lincoln and George Washington are in the top five, showing that while recent presidents get mixed reviews, the ones who helped shape our country are adored. Jesus is also one of the most beloved figures in America, of course.
Only one sports figure made it into the top five, as measured by polling firm Public Policy Polling. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers led his team to a spectacular season, and was rewarded by becoming a favorite of Americans.
Most popular smartphone
It’s hard to stay a favorite in the fast-changing world of smartphones. The BlackBerry line by Research In Motion (RIMM) has plunged in popularity over the last couple of years, while phones running on Google’s (GOOG) Android platform have surged….
Users of Apple (AAPL) iPhones swear their devices are better than chocolate, rainbows and puppies — combined. And the EVO 4G from HTC has won rave reviews for its two cameras, decent 4G connection speeds and crystal-clear screen.
Users also gush over the sleek Motorola Droid 3, with its slide-out keyboard, as well as the social networking powerhouse Samsung Intensity II.
But the most popular smartphone in America comes down to the iPhone or the HTC EVO 4G.
Most popular stock
You can use several standards for most popular stock, but let’s consult hedge funds, which often invest big bucks for large institutions, such as university endowments, pension funds and foundations. Hedge-fund managers are paid extremely well and must be absolutely on top of their game….
It’s a little surprising, then, that the most popular stock picks at these funds are the same ones the average investor might pick. They are well-known names with strong businesses built to survive recessions.
The fundies love three technology companies in particular: Microsoft (MSFT) (see financial performance), Google (GOOG) (see financial performance) and Apple (AAPL) (see financial performance). (Microsoft owns and publishes MSN Money.)
They’re also highly invested in one pharmaceutical company: Pfizer (PFE), which makes the popular Lipitor, Zithromax and Viagra drugs. And while many investors are staying far away from banks, hedge funds favor JPMorgan Chase (JPM).
Most popular pizza topping
We take our pizza seriously. Every man, woman and child in America eats an average of 46 slices a year, according to the Agriculture Council of America.
But not many of those slices have anchovies. That’s the least-favorite pizza topping of them all….
What we do like are the basics. Pepperoni. Cheese. Tomato. Onions and mushrooms are also in the top five, according to a survey of some 235 pizza joints by Technomic’s MenuMonitor.
Most popular summer vacation spot
Now that the holidays are over, doesn’t it seem like summer vacation should be here already? Baseball games, bike rides and fruity drinks can’t arrive fast enough.
Americans love to visit big cities during summer break. People flock to Chicago in the summer, lured by the city’s great shopping and stunning architecture….
And who can resist a good deep-dish pizza or a hot dog with all the trimmings?
Don’t forget the siren call of Orlando when temperatures rise. The city (and its surrounding area) is home to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and a number of other theme parks. Rounding out the top five cities based on hotel occupancy are New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
Most popular dog
Americans love their dogs. There are an estimated 78 million pooches in America, and 39% of U.S. households own at least one.
Different cities have their own preferred breeds, however. Boston and Los Angeles are fans of the bulldog. Detroit likes the Rottweiler, and Honolulu favors the shiba inu….
But nationwide, the most popular pups are the friendly, happy breeds that get along well with children and other animals. That means the retrievers — golden and Labrador — are particularly loved. And the loyal, intelligent German shepherd ranks in the top five as well, according to the American Kennel Club. The Yorkshire terrier and beagle are also favorites.
In the end, two breeds topped the list: The Labrador retriever and the German shepherd.
Most popular celebrity
It seems like we’re up on celebrities’ every move, thanks to the always-there paparazzi and the spread of gossip sites. We know more than we ever wanted to about Britney Spears’ parenting skills, Mel Gibson’s tirades and Ashton Kutcher’s private life….
As a result, it’s tough for many stars to maintain the public image that icons of the past so carefully crafted. But a few celebrities have won our affection over the years, mainly by being extraordinarily talented and rising above the Hollywood scene.
We love the handsome intelligence of Denzel Washington, the down-to-earth allure of Sandra Bullock and the timeless effervescence of Betty White. Rounding out the top five are Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks, two masters of their craft.
Most popular state
Excluding your current state, which state would you most like to live in? Polling company Harris Interactive asked Americans that question in October and, not surprisingly, the balmy regions with beautiful beaches topped the list….
California and Hawaii were favorites — too bad it costs a fortune to live in either place. Florida, a favorite of retirees, came in third, with its beautiful coastlines and low tax rates. Texas and Colorado rounded out the top five.
By the way, Harris also asked which city was least desirable to live in. The top answer was New York City, followed by Detroit and Los Angeles.
From left: Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant; Five Guys Burgers and Fries / © M. Spencer Green/AP; Richard Levine/Alamy
Most popular fast-food chain
Let’s just get one thing out of the way. McDonald’s (MCD), the largest fast-food chain in the country, doesn’t even make the top five here. You won’t see Burger King or Taco Bell on Zagat’s list, either….
But a company that McDonald’s was once a huge investor in — Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) — came in third. Chipotle is one of several chains on the list that focus on fresh ingredients and good quality, a combination that Americans can’t seem to get enough of.
Chick-fil-A (try one near you) and In-N-Out Burger were also in the top five. Both are rising in popularity as they expand to more parts of the country.
Two chains vied for the title of most popular. Five Guys (find a location near you) has been nothing short of a phenomenon, drawing packed crowds wherever it opens. And Panera Bread (PNRA) has become one of the fastest-growing chains in the country.
Most popular prescription drug
Prescription drug use is skyrocketing. In any given month from 2005 to 2008, about 47.2% of Americans used a prescription drug, according to government statistics. That’s up from 39.1% in the period from 1988 to 1994….
But times are changing for the pharmaceutical industry. Last year, for the first time, the 10 most popular prescription drugs were generics, according to IMS Health.
And they aren’t all painkillers, believe it or not. The only painkiller on the list of the top five drugs is hydrocodone (Vicodin).
Doctors also love to prescribe the cholesterol drug simvastatin (Zocor). Two others on the list are used to treat high blood pressure and related ailments: lisinopril (Prinivil) and amlodipine besylate (Norvasc). And then there’s levothyroxine sodium (Synthroid) for hypothyroidism.
Most popular job
Ah, if only there were more openings for chocolate tasters, waterslide testers or Victoria’s Secret photographers. Unfortunately, those jobs are few and far between….
The most popular positions in America involve interacting with people, usually customers or patients.
Cashiers at supermarkets, gas stations and other stores are among the most common jobs, as is the related position of retail salesperson. And there’s always a need for office clerks and food preparation or food service workers.
One job that is in increasingly high demand is a registered nurse. The number of nurses 23 to 26 years old hit 165,000 in 2009, up from 102,000 seven years earlier, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Most popular dessert
Dessert choices in America keep getting more interesting and complex. Take the chai latte cupcakes at Sprinkles Cupcakes, for example, or the lemoncello cream torte at The Cheesecake Factory….
But even with all the options, dessert eaters tend to stick with the basics. Chocolate cake (check out these recipes) is a timeless winner, and chefs keep it popular with dozens of delicious variations. The same goes for apple pie (make your own). And Americans love to top desserts with ice cream or enjoy a scoop all by itself.
Also in the top five are Jell-O, made by Kraft Foods, and cheesecake. Are you drooling yet?
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