According to the recently released 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend Study, Papa John's is the Harris Poll Brand of the Year based on the brand's strong quality scores. This marks the first year in the study's eight-year history that consumers say they are more likely to purchase pizza from Papa John's rather than from Pizza Hut.

Subway Restaurants is America's top-rated quick-service restaurant brand. This marks the eighth year in a row that Subway has ranked highest in this category.

"Subway's consistently high ranking in the Harris Poll EquiTrend study clearly indicates that consumers are graduating from just saying they're interested in better nutrition choices in restaurants to actually changing their purchase behavior," said Mary Bouchard, vice president of Consumer Goods, Retail and Restaurant Research at Harris Interactive. "For some time, the media spotlight on obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and the importance of making better meal choices away from home, has driven growth in the range and number of lower calorie/better nutrition dishes being offered in all types of restaurants. These study results show just how strongly Subway's positioning around fast and healthy meal choices is resonating with consumers."

For the second year in a row, Dairy Queen is No. 2, and Wendy's is No. 3 in the poll.

Five Guy's Burgers and Fries made its debut at No. 4, with strong performance on several brand-equity metrics. Chick-fil-A, also an EquiTrend newcomer, ranks fifth, followed by McDonald's and Burger King respectively, rounding out those brands above the category average.

New category: coffee & quick service

Einstein Bagels topped Dunkin Donuts to become the 2012 Brand of the Year in the newly minted category, Coffee & Quick Service Restaurants. Einstein Bagels edged out Dunkin Donuts on two key attributes of brand equity: quality and purchase consideration.

The study was conducted online from Jan. 31 through Feb. 20, 2012, and analyzed the responses of more than 38,500 consumers on key measures of brand health, including how well the public knows a brand, how positively they think of the brand and their consideration to do business with or donate to a brand.

Read more about trends and statistics.

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