While you may recognize Panda Express from their seemingly ubiquitous presence in mall food courts, there are actually so many interesting things about Panda Express. And no, they don’t all have to do with orange chicken — but come on, a list of Panda Express facts wouldn’t be complete without at least a few mentions of that sweet, sticky dish.
Founded in 1982 by Andrew and Peggy Cherng, Panda Express is still family-owned and operated, despite now having over 1,500 restaurants. There are no franchises, and it’s still a privately held company. The company also donates millions to charity every year through its Panda Cares initiative. So enjoy these Panda Express statistics and facts, and see how long you can go before dashing out to satisfy your sudden, irresistible craving for America’s first fast-casual Chinese food chain.
Yep, that’s right. Panda didn’t just perfect orange chicken, they invented it. Executive chef Andy Kao devised the recipe for the now-classic Chinese-American staple.
Can’t get enough Panda Express? Then you should take a trip to Pasadena, CA, where Panda’s Innovation Kitchen offers up experimental menu items including quesadillas, burritos, ramen, and tea.
Eater spent a day inside a Panda Express, documenting everything from the customers who dined there to the amount of food the kitchen used. At the end of the day, they sold 434 servings of orange chicken, 443 servings of chow mein, and used 77 pounds of broccoli.
In 1987, Andy Kao, who is now the executive chef at Panda Express, came up with the recipe for their classic orange chicken. But one thing was a little bit different back then: the chicken was served on the bone.