Toppings are perhaps the quintessential reason why everyone loves burgers so much. At any given time, the right additions can make or break the burger – they can also speak volumes about the kind of person you are.

Too many toppings will overwhelm the sandwich, and make it virtually inedible. Of course, if there’s too few toppings then all you’ll get is the overwhelming taste of meat. The trick is to pair the hearty taste of beef with other kinds of flavor.

There’s certain trends that are better at this than others, of course. For example, you can hardly ever go wrong with pairing a smoky burger with a refreshing tomato, or melty cheese, pickles, onions and lettuce. And, of course, we can’t forget the essential condiments – ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard.

So where do all of these toppings, plus a few other exotic ones, fall on the list for barbeque-loving Americans?

One way to find out is to look at all the major burger trends being initiated by America’s major fast food chains. Over the last two years, roughly 40 burgers have been introduced to the American consumers.

By looking at what they all have in common, we can see that Americans generally prefer:

  • Bacon

Bacon on burgers is a trend that’s simply unmatched in its immortality – bacon will never go away.

It’s become so expected that you won’t find a burger joint that doesn’t offer bacon as an add-on to your burger. Seriously, name one.

Just under half of the roughly 40 burgers introduced over the last 24 months included bacon in the recipe. Some of it was hickory-smoked, and others were Applewood-smoked. McDonalds and Wendys in particular have emphasized the “thickness” of their bacon, whereas other major chains like Red Robin have featured candied bacon smeared in brown sugar.

  • Anything Spicy

McDonalds recently unveiled its sriracha burger, following the trends set forth by Jack in the Box, Carls Jr. and other chains advertising really spicy burgers.

Jalapenos have also invaded the American cheese burger. The McDonalds sriracha burger, for instance, features a few slices of the devil’s pepper. In addition, jalapeno is featured on burgers like the Sonic Island Fire SuperSonic Cheeseburger (that’s a hot mouthful) and Jack in the Box’s Hella-Peno Burger.

  • Sides

Yep. Instead of having fries on the side, Americans want it right in the burger. Afterall, who has the patience to actually put the burger down to pick up French fries? Burger King took the lead on this one.

Of course, fries are not the only neat trick served up inside the American classic. Things like coleslaw (Wendy’s), onion rings (Jack in the Box), guacamole (McDonalds).

Finally, let’s not forget the heavenly mac-and-cheese burgers out there.

  • Not-Your-Grandmother’s Condiments

We’re beyond the basic ketchup, mayo and mustard. No, we’re talking habanero bacon sauce or black pepper sauce. Basically, name two unrelated ingredients and turn it into a sauce and then you’re finally in the game.

Oh, and did I mention all the “secret” sauces out there? If life is short, you might as well try and find out exactly how many secret sauces out there will actually send you to the moon.