Insta-Burger King doesn’t have the same ring to it as Burger King. When David Edgerton and James McLamore bought the struggling chain from Insta-Burger King, they dropped the Insta and a classic American company was born.
Rise of the King
It’s not been an easy ride for the King, as Burger King has not only changed hands multiple times but has also experienced a series of tumultuous downturns. This company has continued moving forward, but it’s been mostly two steps forward and one step back along the way.
Burger King started in 1953 in Jacksonville, Florida and quickly expanded. By 1967, the company had spread to two hundred and fifty locations across the United States and was acquired by the Pillsbury Company. Through the 1970s Pillsbury as a whole struggled to find direction, and Burger King brought in several high profile executives from competitor McDonalds in order to get the fast-food chain back on track. With this change, Burger King rose to the top of the fast-food world and was competitive with top burger behemoth McDonalds.
Over the next forty years, the company changed hands several times before landing with 3G Capital of Brazil. The company bought Burger King from its previous owners for three and a quarter billion dollars in 2010. At this point, the company was in the midst of a downturn and the new owners commenced a major restructuring to turn it around.
Selling the Whopper
The Whopper is Burger King’s signature food item and has been since its debut in 1957. The tagline “Have it your way” was part of an advertising campaign that embedded this signature food item into the public consciousness.
Over the years, there have been many additions to Burger King’s menu that were not as successful as the Whopper. These included things like salads, macaroni and cheese, and even tacos.
To sell its products, Burger King has used a wide variety of advertising methods. The company is known for its distinctive Super Bowl Spots and interactive advertising. Though branding has changed over the decades, the crown concept has remained steady, with Burger King offering paper crowns in all of its stores.
Trademark infringement has been a major area of controversy for Burger King, particularly internationally. There have been copyright issues for Burger King in Australia and Canada. Burger King has also had to remove its trademark from franchisees for unsanitary conditions in their stores.
Though Burger King was the first major fast-food chain to offer a vegetarian burger in the United States, it’s run into trouble with animal rights groups for its treatment of animals used for meat. In 2019, the company debuted a second veggie burger option, the Impossible Whopper, in conjunction with Impossible Foods.
Keeping the Throne
Burger King has more than seventeen thousand locations in one hundred countries across the globe.
More than ninety-nine percent of Burger King stores are franchises that are privately owned and operated but license the Burger King trademark and processes. Burger King is the sixth-largest fast-food chain in America, behind Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Subway. After more than sixty years in business, it’s proved to be a brand with both staying power and reach.