Burger-Scented Perfumes, Secret Menus and Halloween Surprises: The Playful History of Burger King’s Brand Legacy
Did you know that there are more than 19,780 Burger King locations in over 100 countries? The legacy fast-food brand, which was originally called Insta-Burger King, also invented the flame-broiler (a commercial mechanical gas grill) and has a location in Finland that includes a 15-person sauna and a spa! Its most popular menu item, the Whopper, only cost 37 cents when it was introduced in 1957 and boasts over 200,000 craveable combinations today.
Not only do the fast-food brand’s more than 11 million customers enjoy burgers, fries, desserts, and more their own way every day, but entrepreneurs can turn their business dreams into reality with the company’s franchise business model. Nearly all of Burger King’s locations are franchised!
There’s so much more to Burger King than just paper crowns and a king mascot. You may think you know everything about the popular fast-food franchise, but here are ten whopping fun facts about Burger King that may surprise you.
1. Inspired By the McDonald Brothers
Like many other fast-food restaurants, Burger King was inspired by the success of the Golden Arches. Insta-Burger King’s founders, Keith Kramer and Matthew Burns, visited the original McDonald’s location in San Bernardino, Calif., and were influenced by the burger joint’s success story and speedy service.
2. The Pillsbury Company Bought It for $18
The Pillsbury Company acquired Burger King Corporation for $18 in 1967, making the fast-casual brand the second largest burger chain in the U.S. behind McDonald’s. This acquisition also solved a problem with the Whopper in San Antonio; the Burger King location wasn’t allowed to use the term Whopper because there was a restaurant with the same name. By merging Burger King with Whopper Burger, the problem was solved. The Pillsbury Company has been one of the many owners of Burger King over the years. Others include Grand Metropolitan, Diageo, TPG Capital, and 3G Capital.
3. Burger King Perfume
Who wouldn’t like a perfume that smells like … meat? On April Fools’ Day in 2015, the Burger King franchise released a perfume called Flame-Grilled Fragrance in Japan. For $41, customers could smell like a burger and get a free one at participating Burger King restaurants. In the U.S., the fast-food brand also released a similar fragrance called Flame, which was marketed as “the scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat.”
4. The Halloween Whopper
Not only did Japan release a meat-inspired fragrance, but it also released burgers with black buns and cheese called the Kuro Pearl and Kuro Diamond in 2014, according to FoodBeast. The U.S. followed these specialty burgers up with one of its own: the Halloween Whopper. The flame-broiled burger featured American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, mayonnaise, and an A.1. Thick and Hearty Sauce.
5. A Helium Tank Inspired the King Mascot
One of the most recognizable aspects of the legacy burger franchise is its expressionless king mascot. The inspiration behind the modern mascot, which has been around for two decades, is unique. In the 1970s, performers were stationed outside of Burger King restaurants dressed as royalty to do magic tricks, and children could fill up balloons with tanks of helium outfitted with a plastic king head. According to Slate, an advertising executive found one of the plastic king heads on eBay, inspiring him to pursue a surrealistic king character. The rest is history.
6. The McDonald’s Lawsuit
In 1982, when companies couldn’t diss each other on social media, Burger King made a commercial of a then 5-year-old Sarah Michelle Gellar assailing the low-quality meat from McDonald’s. The commercial claimed that McDonald’s used 20 percent less meat than Burger King. The Golden Arches sued Burger King and called on the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” actress to testify about her “misleading” claims. The suit was settled out of court, and Burger King pulled the ad. More recently, Burger King got into more legal trouble when it was sued for allegedly serving food at full price but in smaller portions.
7. What is the Suicide Burger?
There is a secret Burger King menu that takes the term “food coma” to a whole new level. On this menu is the Suicide Burger, which consists of four meat patties and cheese slices, bacon, and sauce. Other items on the menu include The King BLT, Frings, the Veggie Burger, and the Mustard Whopper.
8. The Burger King Crown Card
There are several celebrities who can enjoy free food at Burger King locations around the world for life with the Burger King Crown Card. For example, pop star Jennifer Hudson used to work for the burger brand and holds the coveted card. Additionally, Star Wars creator George Lucas earned a card after partnering with the burger franchise for movie releases.
9. Hungry Jack’s in Australia
While Burger King is an internationally popular fast-food franchise, it’s not known as Burger King in every country. For example, in Australia, customers looking to get their Burger King fix go to Hungry Jack’s because the name was already trademarked before Burger King expanded there, according to Tasting Table.
10. Menu Flubs
Burger King has gotten creative over the years, but there have been some notable flubs. For example, Burger Bundles, the Flame Broiled Meatloaf Sandwich, the Enormous Omelette Sandwich, hot dogs, and the Bacon Sundae prove that even the most established fast-food franchise brands get it wrong every now and again.
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