Editor’s Note: This article is a recycled concept from several years ago, updated with a new rendering scheme that made it worth sharing again.
A while back, I created two fanciful maps of a hypothetical, earth-penetrating, inverse-squared burger force, as broadcast by the 36,000-plus domestic restaurant locations of the eight largest U.S. fast food chains. Recently, I upgraded my Visualizationator’s speed by a few orders of magnitude, and as a test, I focused it on said beefspace, yielding several new renditions that you might find more delicious than before…
But first, a few changes. In a nod to the reality of hungry humans, we retooled the power-law metric to mirror the long-distance travels of bank notes, per Brockmann’s seminal “Where’s George” study. The colors now represent the three most influential chains at each point, weighted by cumulative force at a 4:2:1 ratio, where black is McDonald’s, red Burger King, yellow Wendy’s, magenta Jack In The Box, periwinkle Sonic, cream Dairy Queen, green Carl’s Jr., and cyan Hardee’s. Together, you can think of these tweaks as elegantly exposing the subtle contours of market dominance, then splattering them with the individual restaurant locations.
To wit, behold, the contiguous United States, viewed through the lens of the beefspace:
Now, let’s zoom into East Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana:
That’s Dallas-Fort Worth at upper left and the Mississippi River delta lower right. Note the outlying clouds of also-ran franchise strength, dotted magenta on Houston’s south side and yellow at Jackson, Mississippi.
Next, please peruse the nebulous burger ecosystem of the southern Piedmont, running northeast from Atlanta, Georgia to Charlotte, North Carolina:
Zooming west and inward, we train our gaze on metropolitan Phoenix and the faint rectangular hints of its primary street grid:
And finally, let’s roll the clock back to when all of this business began. Our singular universe, zeptoseconds before the Big Bang:
Thanks to AggData for providing the geolocated store information that made this article possible.