We turn to fast food not for a quality meal in a fine-dining establishment, but for something that’s quick, easy, and cheap. It’s no secret that fast food chains like Burger King cut corners to deliver this, but it’s possible that things are worse than you expected. So the next time you get the craving for chicken fries – consider these ten little factoids that the King of Burgers has been keeping from you.
McDonald’s is Still the King
They seem to be on every street corner in every city, dominating the fast food burger market. No no, we’re not talking about Burger King here, but instead their rival and far more successful competitor, McDonald’s. While it’s mostly public knowledge that McDonald’s reigns supreme as the fast food burger provider, one can assume Burger King would rather we forget just how much more successful they are. But we can’t. Even when struggling, McDonald’s doubles Burger King’s business. In 2014, BK drew in an average of $1.2 million per store where McDonald’s nearly doubled it at $2.6 million. Thanks to the Happy Meal, more efficient marketing, a higher advertising budget, and more than double the number of stores, Burger King may always lie in McDonald’s wake of success.
Having admitted to the accusations in 2013, Burger King knows you know but would rather you forget when it was found to have sold Whoppers with trace amounts of horsemeat. The company was in constant and steadfast denial, but when a testing of the meat from its Irish-based plant, Silvercrest, came to light, there was no denying the truth. Contamination in the form of small amounts of horse DNA had been discovered in meat processed at Silvercrest, leaving Burger King no choice but to sever ties with the plant. While BK denied any knowledge of the tainted meat, other allegations had surfaced claiming the company knew and was simply covering their tracks until a new supplier could be found.
Shut Down by McD’s
Back in 2015, Burger King made a very public proposal in the Chicago Tribune and New York Times to McDonald’s suggesting the two combine forces to create a mash-up of the WHOPPER and the Big Mac to sell in an Atlanta, Georgia location to raise awareness for Peace Day. While the public seemed on board with the McWhopper, especially YouTubers like Boogie2988’s alternate personality, Francis, who created his own version, McDonald’s was far less enthused. Despite the effort BK put into the idea - from purchasing a web address to compiling the marketing plan - Birdie the Early Bird and McDonald’s CEO reached out in a Facebook post, stating that, while the idea was great, the two companies could join forces in a more global effort and that a “simple phone call” would suffice. I guess she's not your type, Mr. King.
BK Saved RDJ
To say that Burger King saved Robert Downey Jr.’s life may sound like incredible press, but knowing the whole story paints an entirely different picture. Yes, RDJ was once reported as thanking BK for helping him come off of drugs, but his full statement was far less of an accolade. According to the star, while driving around high in 2003, he decided to stop for a burger from BK. After eating the restaurant’s staple food item, he recalled it being so “disgusting” that he had an epiphany and threw out the stash of pot he had on him. From that moment on, he aimed to clean up his act, eventually giving us the Tony Stark we know and love today.
Though the practice may have been diluted in the most recent years, did you know that, as recently as 2012, Burger King was leaving out a rather telling description of how their burgers are cooked? Sure, they were “flame-grilled” at some point, but after the meat was subjected to BK’s version of grilling, right before being served to the customer, it was tossed into a microwave. When the practice hit local headlines in 2012 after a partially-related story broke, BK reps commented by saying microwaving the meat was an assurance of safety and hygiene.
Not everything a company tries is going to be a golden launch, but when they put so much effort into touting how great something is going to be, when it fails, it’s not something they’d like to be reminded of. Well, here we are to remind them of “Satisfries,” the chain’s poor attempt at making a healthier, tastier french fry option. Carrying a higher price tag than regular fries, the “Satisfry” was an ill-received concept that was meant to appeal to health nuts but still carried more calories than McDonald’s thinner french fries. As quickly as “Satisfries” appeared, Burger King slowly phased them out, allowing their chains the option to continue carrying the item if they wished to. Out of approximately 7,400 U.S and Canadian locations, only 2,500 considered keeping them.
The First Attack Ad
It’s considered one of the sleaziest forms of marketing, but the attack ad has become a favorite for politicians and phone companies. Though it may seem Burger King envies McDonald’s success, in 1982, it released what some argue to be the first ad to attack a competitor and mention them by name. In the shameless plug, a very young, pre-Buffy Sarah Michelle Gellar calls out McDonald’s for having burgers 20% smaller than Burger King’s. A very adorable Gellar goes on the offensive for the king of burgers in an unsavory maneuver that the kinder, gentler BK of today may have hoped to bury.
Flattering McDonald’s Menu
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so one can assume Burger King has had a hand in inflating McDonald’s oversized ego since its start as Insta-Burger King in the 50’s. Clearly, you’ve seen similarities between the two restaurants, with the King always a step or two behind America’s favorite clown. It all started in 1954 after Cornell University students James McLamore and David Edgerton became inspired by McDonald’s, sparking the creation of Insta-Burger King. Since then, it’s been inadvertent nods to BK’s own rival with like-minded menu options that conveniently happen to pop up after they’ve already seen success at McD's. Options like the Rib Sandwich, the Big King, and BK’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich have all been pulled from McDonald’s menu to inspire Burger King’s own versions.
If the possibility of employee antics aren’t enough to turn you off from fast food, maybe this tale from Fair Haven, Vermont that Burger King surely would like swept under the rug will turn heads. After purchasing a sandwich from good ‘ole BK, Van Miguel Hartless received a nasty surprise when he bit into it and got a sour taste and numbing sensation. Rather than question the weird notes, he continued, eventually biting down to find a something rubbery between his teeth. To the patron’s surprise, that added bit of texture and flavor was a condom, dangling half in and half out of his mouth. To avoid further press on the matter, the lawsuit Hartless filed was settled out of court.
The Feet in the Lettuce
It’s certainly no surprise that food service employees often take a little too much liberty with the food they’re hired to handle. Burger King, of course, is not immune in any way, and the company as a whole would probably like to divert your attention away from incidents like the 2012 “Feet in the Lettuce” debacle or even the 2008 “Employee Bathing Session.” Both instances, which BK attempted to sweep under the rug, depicted just how vulnerable our food is. In 2012, an alleged Burger King employee from Mayfield Heights, Ohio was photographed standing in two tubs of lettuce while in 2008, several employees at a Xenia, Ohio location were fired when one employee was shown bathing, fully nude, in a restaurant sink.