There is one old Chinese adage that says, "Food is the first necessity of the people." anyone who"s worn down after a long day that dragging bags through a to buy mall or running through an airport to catch a flight knows this to be true, and when they pass by a Panda Express, they"ll happily avoid in for some spring rolfes or broccoli beef. Through its diverse food preparation styles, flavors, and ingredients, Chinese food is among the most famous cuisines in America. Just how renowned is it? according to a survey done through Eater, Chinese food is the second most renowned food distribution item in the united States. Over there are more Chinese restaurants in America 보다 all the McDonald"s, Pizza Huts, Wendy"s, Taco Bells, and KFCs combined. Among the many popular, and one that helped lug Chinese food to the masses, is Panda Express.

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Aside from understanding just exactly how delicious the chain"s orange chicken is though, you most likely haven"t given this Chinese rapid food restaurant lot thought as you scarfed down your plate complete of chow mein in ~ the food court. Indigenous its humble beginnings to the jaw-dropping variety of fortune cookies they give out every year, this is the untold fact of Panda Express.

Once top top a time in Kansas, 2 Baker university students met and they fell madly in love, and born the this love was several of the yummiest Chinese food food friend will ever eat, and also we all lived happily ever before after stuffing our faces with broccoli beef and also orange chicken. 

Panda refer co-CEOs Andrew and Peggy Cherng both concerned America as Chinese immigrant in the mid-1960s. They moved to Los Angeles quickly after graduation so the Andrew could aid his cousin restaurant through his restaurant, but debates over the business eventually brought about Andrew going the end on his own. In 1973, together with his father, Andrew opened and ran Panda Inn in Pasadena, wherein the whole family worked. Fast forward an ext than 4 decades, and also the Cherng family has much more than 2,000 Panda to express restaurants in the United says (as the 2018). There are likewise locations in Canada, Mexico, Japan, south Korea, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Guatemala, and also Aruba. And also just because Panda refer is a mega-success doesn"t median the Cherngs have actually forgotten their roots. Your daughter Andrea is the company"s cook marketing officer, and also they own and operate every restaurant — they don"t franchise them the end to others, conserve for a few select locations. At Panda Express, it important is a family members business.

Andrew Cherng and also his dad, understand chef Ming-Tsai Cherng opened up the an initial Panda Inn in Pasadena, California in 1973. The elder Cherng had actually previously to be a chief in Shanghai, Taipei, Taiwan, and also Yokohama, Japan. Far from the red and also white panda-emblazoned fast food restaurants you recognize today, the Panda Inn was began in a dilapidated coffee residence with a trailer in the back where cook Ming-Tsai would certainly prepare the food. Eventually, though, that shuttered coffeeshop transformed into an upscale sit-down restaurant that ended up being popular quickly. 

Andrew said the Los Angeles Times, "We had actually a ago door to the restaurant and I would enter the parking lot and also say, "Thank you because that coming. I"m i m really sorry we"re crowded, but if you"ll wait, I"ll buy friend a drink." and they can return come the restaurant, saying, "Wow, all this because that our business?""

It"s the level of client service and also the popular of the restaurant the made the Glendale Galleria asking the Cherngs to open up a rapid food ar at their mall, thus Panda Express was born. There are still 5 Panda Inn locations, and also best the all? your meal concludes v chocolate-dipped luck cookies.

Panda refer co-founder Peggy Cherng has a B.S. In used mathematics, an M.S. In computer system science, and a Ph.D. In electrical engineering, so as soon as the restaurants very first opened she was critical in implementing portable computer systems to process orders in every location. That course, most restaurants you constant today have actually computerized systems for acquisition orders and also managing data, but Panda to express was one of the first restaurants to carry out so, all many thanks to Cherng. According to Business Insider, "Peggy Cherng provided her engineering expertise to streamline the company"s operations and logistics. She pioneered the use of technology for work like tracking inventory and also re-ordering ingredients, a practice various other American Chinese restaurants had not however adopted."

Foodbeast price quotes Cherng as saying, "The kitchen area is low tech, however the monitoring system deserve to be high tech — just how to capture the data, how to analyze data to see what"s most salable, what"s not selling, and also to determine what to offer and what not to offer." this particular day Peggy Cherng is just one of the richest, self-made, foreign born ladies in America.

One of the criticisms you"ll watch lobbied against Panda express is the inquiry of its authenticity. Is it Chinese food? Is the American food? Technically, it"s both. The was started by Chinese immigrants who adjusted Chinese food because that the American palate, and for a many Americans, it"s been their very first introduction to Chinese cuisine. Chief marketing officer Andrea Cherng told Goldthread, "In the beginning, whatever was currently being analyzed by master chef Ming-Tsai Cherng. And the means that he cooked always had that Chinese heritage." 

Culinary director Jimmy Wang said Restaurant Drive, "American Chinese cook is an extremely authentic to Panda Express. Our ever-evolving format of food to be born from adapting traditional Chinese recipes, flavors and cooking approaches to American ingredients and also tastes. As American palates evolve, we will proceed to take motivation from the regional flavor file of both Chinese provinces and also American regions."

You seldom see people ask if Pizza Hut is authentic Italian food, or if Chipotle is authentic mexico food, because it"s pretty usual knowledge that both of these fast casual restaurants are "Mexican-inspired" or "Italian-inspired." Andrea Cherng said Business Insider that Panda refer is "a story of immigrant Chinese chefs and families coming to the US, for what castle hope will certainly be a far better life. It"s a story of taking the recipes and the collection of their very own culinary skill collection and making the appeal come an national palate." lock did, and also came up through authentic American Chinese.

There"s just one Panda Express innovation Kitchen located in Pasadena, California, but once you hear around the menu offerings you"ll great you had one in your city. There"s a honey walnut shrimp wrap with green papaya slaw, crispy wontons, and fresh salad greens, together with other salads and also wraps. Most appealing, though, is that you deserve to customize your entire meal precisely the method you want it.

Eater defines the innovation Kitchen concept, saying, " the new menu requires guests to select a basic (chow mein noodles, a scallion pancake that turns the dish into a wrap), protein (honey walnut shrimp, chicken breast), sauce, and toppings, climate stir-fries the dish to order. A separate counter, near a ar of plush chairs and also conversation nooks, dwellings a "tea mixology" bar the serves "artisanal tea infusions," boba teas, and also pastries." 

If you"re no lucky sufficient to live close to Pasadena, Dave Wallinga, vice president of guest marketing in ~ Panda Restaurant Group, called the San Gabriel valley Tribune that there"s tho hope: "At the development Kitchen, guest feedback is urged so Panda can refine that products. Then, after ~ making certain it have the right to reproduce them consistently, that will sell the ideal dishes at every Panda express sites." We need the orange chicken pave to pertained to our local Panda refer in the very near future because it sound delicious.

Any Panda express fanatic to know how great the chain"s orange chicken is, and it have to be — it"s to be on the menu because 1987. When the was very first introduced by former executive chef Andy Kao, though, it was served bone-in, fairly than the classic boneless dish you uncover at any kind of Panda refer today. And you will uncover a lot of it, due to the fact that the chain sells virtually 70 million pounds every year. It"s so renowned that more than 50 percent of Panda express diners select orange chicken as part of your meal.

Panda refer orange chicken is everything delicious in one tasty meal — boneless fried chicken tossed in a sauce that"s just a tiny bit spicy because of the dried chilis, but sweet thanks to orange peel, honey, and also ginger. For this reason as no to leaving the vegetarians out, the chain also makes a vegetarian orange chicken with paneer because that its Mumbai, India location. The orange chicken recipe has actually remained pretty continual over the years, except a tweak the was make by adding bacon that left plenty of fans pretty upset. They likewise offered orange chicken and waffles on their food van to storage the famous dish. That sounds favor a dish out of an orange chicken dream.

Panda to express hands the end 282 million fortune cookies every year, however they aren"t constantly just your conventional fortune cookies. Because that a 2016 campaign, the restaurant change the name the standard treat Fortunate Cookies and also included FortuNotes inside, white slips that expressed gratitude and kindness, quite than the typical proverb or prophecy. Andrea Cherng told Fox News, "The score is the will pause and stop and acknowledge the people in their stays that lock feel most fortunate for." of the brand-new packaging and also signage, she explained, "We wanted guests to understand that this is miscellaneous different and that it"s expected to convey the trip of acknowledgement because that the world that issue in our lives." Cherng concluded, "The habit the pausing and saying come someone that you issue — that"s the richness, that"s the luck of life." 

Some the the fortunes read, "You will aid someone in need this week," "Your kind attitude will keep others afloat," and also "You are precisely where you"re an alleged to be." Those sweet messages most likely made those cookie taste all the sweeter to guest at the restaurant.

For the very first time in the chain"s history, Panda Express included vegan items come its food selection in 2019. The new plant-based item include spring rolls, egg plant tofu, chow mein, and Super Greens combined veggies (which has cabbage, broccoli, and kale). Until this menu change, Panda express flavored its dishes with chicken broth and other animal product seasonings. 

According come PETA (People for the ethical Treatment of Animals), this adjust is many thanks to their supporters. "When Panda Express said PETA that its vegetable-based dishes were still ready with meat-based flavoring, us urged the company to acquire with the times and offer vegan options in that is 2,000 stores across the globe. Once it ongoing to provide us excuses, we sent an alert, and our supporters composed the agency over 234,000 time demanding change," PETA explains.

But one issue that strict vegans may have actually with these brand-new dishes is that although they don"t save on computer meat or pet by-products, Panda to express notes the they room still all set in the very same kitchen together the meat items, making use of the same an are and cooking equipment. Some vegetarians stating the cross-contamination worry on Reddit have actually a difficulty with the idea of their food being cooked in the same pans that have actually prepared meat, while rather don"t. Nonetheless, the company has to be transparent about this so the diners can comprise their very own mind based upon their dietary preferences and any allergy they may have.

Founder the Panda to express Andrew Cherng said Los Angeles Magazine that his project is to construct people. "When you have actually a great set the people, and they"re in a great place inside and out — in their livelihood and in that they are — then chances are they will certainly take treatment of the customer better," that said. 

Employees in ~ Panda express receive health care, paid time off, 401(k)s, and company-subsidized proceeding education. They additionally receive discounts to layout parks and gym memberships, amongst other perks. The Cherngs also purchased a Robert Indiana Love sculpture that sits external their corporate headquarters. Peggy Cherng told The new York Times "We are building a society on trust, and the aim of to trust is love. Love is the verb us emphasize through our Panda family. We have to respect and care because that each other. We should push and also stretch each other." It"s that form of corporate declare that provides it seem favor being part of the Panda family makes the a really nice place to work. 

If a restaurant is worried about competition in the food court at a purchase mall, they could constantly do what the Cherngs did: begin their own contending restaurant. According to Fortune, Andrew Cherng said, "We started Hibachi-San in malls in 1992 together a defensive strategy to keep Japanese restaurants indigenous selling against our Chinese food at Panda Express." 

Hibachi-San is a Japanese rapid casual restaurant which offers items like tepanyaki plates and sushi. Considering that, follow to Eater, "there"s an increasingly prominent Japanese cook presence throughout America," it makes sense the you"d have the ability to buy your poke bowls beside a Chik-fil-A or a Cinnabon. The Cherngs knew that starting their own Japanese chain would average that whether a customer was deciding between Panda refer or Hibachi-San, they"d constantly win. Hibachi-San has 18 locations across the United says (as the June 2019).

The most profitable Panda refer is located at the Ala Moana center food court in Honolulu, Hawaii and it brings in about $4 million a year, more than any other Panda express restaurant. That"s a whole lot the orange chicken! and also it"s not just shopping malls wherein you can discover Panda refer — castle are also located together stand-alone restaurants, in airports, in ~ universities, layout parks, casinos, and army bases. With brand-new restaurants opened worldwide, it"s safe to say that the Cherngs have come a long method since Andrew Cherng opened up his first restaurant. Los Angeles Magazine says that Andrew when told his mommy that "he planned to someday open 99 more restaurants." His mom said she remembered being flabbergasted. "You only eat 3 meals a day. What perform you require 100 restaurants for?" she said, before continuing, "He to be a great child who normally did listen, but in that instance he didn"t." thank goodness he adhered to his dreams so all of us deserve to enjoy orange chicken and broccoli beef anywhere the world.

Think you have actually an obsession v Panda refer orange chicken? One tape tried to obtain a life time supply of it out of the chain.

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The Killers" 2004 album title Hot Fuss has actually a song on it called "Smile prefer You typical It," which the band happened to discover written ~ above a slip in among their fortune cookies after chowing under on a meal from Panda express in 2017. Exactly how did the band reaction to this? by jokingly putting Panda refer on blast by tweeting, "I"m thinkin" orange chicken because that life and we"ll allow you turn off the hook for using our stuff." The band"s insurance claim to inventing the phrase seems a little iffy considering any 3rd grader posing for school snapshot day more than likely heard the exact same words uttered through the photographer, but you can"t fault The Killers for wanting to be swim in the yummy, sticky orange chicken. This beef (er, chicken?) all resolved in the end because Panda Express ended up make a financial donation come the charity that the band"s choice.