The core differentiator for United Dairy Farmers (UDF) is arguably right in its name. This privately owned, regional chain, founded 80 years ago, specializes in hand-dipped ice cream, which it crafts into sundaes, ice cream floats and sodas, shakes and malts right in the store. UDF is so renowned for its dairy treats that it ranked 8th on Food & Wine magazine's list of the top 22 c-store chains by foodservice in 2019.

Beyond ice cream, UDF made another big step in 2019 with the construction of a "fresh foods" production facility near Cincinnati, where it is frying up a new, proprietary line of square doughnuts.

UDF also is driving growth and store traffic with its U-Drive Fuel Rollback loyalty program, which offers cents off per gallon of gasoline for purchases of coffee, milk and other c-store staples, and a new loyalty app that offers a digital connection to the loyalty program as well as coupons and special deals.

For benchmarking purposes, store counts are year-end 2019.

Headquarters:Cincinnati, Ohio
No. of Stores:175
Rank Last Year:40