Quick, name the top 3 fast food chains.
Are you ready? If you didn’t bother to think about it or Google it, I’ll tell you; they are McDonald’s, followed by Wendy’s followed by Burger King. All three make burgers as their flagship meal, with various types of fries and fried chicken thingies to round out the menu. Of the three, I see McDonald’s as the entrepreneur; they come up with new products before anyone else. Wendy’s is the classy one; they don’t necessarily come up with new ideas, but they make them high-class. (Check out their fries, very classy.)
And BK is the dick. Shameless, idea-stealing dick. Sure, McDonald’s has tried time and again (futilely) to mimic the success of their Whopper; there was the McDLT in the 80s which flopped hard, but not before giving us a commercial with a singing, dancing George Costanza. Then in the 90s, and again in the 2000s, they tried the Big and Tasty, and at another point in the 90s, the Arch Deluxe. All were ultimately failures and have their own interesting stories, but it just goes to show that when one bigwig tries to steal an idea, it usually goes nowhere. (Although they still came with fries)
Carbon Copy Whoppers
Burger King, on the other hand, seems like the Jim Belushi to McDonald’s John. Wendy’s is Harold Ramis; there, and pretty damn good, but managed to stay out on the fringes out of most of the bullshit. The big difference between the Belushis and the fast food empires is that Jim didn’t spend most of his time trying to tell everyone how much of a shithead his brother was. Back in the 90s, I vividly remember a BK ad campaign that talked about how dinky Mickey D’s patties were, and how retarded it was for Wendy’s to have square ones. While their competition said “We rock, WHOO!”, Burger King said less “We’re great!” and more “Fuck those guys.” This always made me question their quality.
Look at it this way; if you go to buy a car, and 3 guys are offering cars, and two guys tell you why their particular car is awesome (Let’s, for argument’s sake, assume one car comes with special sauce), and the third guy just tells you that their cars are shit and you need to buy his, are you going to buy from him? Probably not. Because he’s a dick. On the bright side, at least you aren’t putting what you get from the dick in your body. (That sounds awful…) According to Wikipedia, BK all but invented this tactic in the fast food world, and they did it with a 4 year old Sarah Michelle Gellar. That stunt got BK AND the little girl sued by McDonald’s. They’ve also managed to piss of Slipknot with their “Bang Your Head” commercial for their chicken fries, and were sued for that one too (at least Buffy was safe that time). While I’m mentioning the chicken fries, they were definitely one of BK’s more original ideas. They’re also pretty awful, yet they still sell them. I guess the chicken fries are like the baby they dropped on it’s head; it’s not very good at anything, but damnit, they love it too much to give up on it.
I will also just quickly mention their King mascot, which manages to out-creep Ronald McDonald, which is no small feat considering Ronald is a clown who hangs out with children and a talking purple butt-plug.
But despite just being general belligerent jerks about business, BK has managed to knock the ball out of the park when it comes to using copy-and-paste tactics to come up with “new ideas.” BK is far from innocent in the arena of trying to copy their main competitor’s helm-sandwich. In the 90s they released the Big King. It was a BK Big Mac, they even just kind of scratched off the original name and stuck “King” on the end of it. It was, tell me if this sounds familiar, two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles onions on a sesame seed bun. Holy shit, at least Cleo McDowell had the decency to omit the sesame seeds.
Yeah, even I think that’s some cheap shit.
What, my daughter? Oh, she went to Africa. Married a prince. Somalis killed them all.
The Big King was moderately successful, which is to say I really liked it, and of course this made BK discontinue it. Because they are dicks, And they hate happiness. Oh, apparently you can get it over in Europe, but I have not lived on that continent in 20 years. Here is their unoriginality in all of its tasty glory:
The Big King wasn’t (isn’t?) better than the Big Mac, but it was damn good, and since they kept doing “Buy one get one deals” and there was a BK 5 minutes from my house back in the 90s, it was an easy choice. BK’s absolute ripping off of the other’s (Mostly McDonald’s) doesn’t end there, however. The idea of the 99¢ value menu was introduced by Wendy’s. BK immediately started doing the same thing, then using the same Machiavellian tactics that lead to the name “Big King”, they renamed it the $1 menu. I have always imagined the reason behind this to be two-fold; one, to make it different and therefore more “original”, and two, because for every 100 units sold, that’s an extra buck. This tactic was lifted from Superman 3 and later co-opted by Office Space.
These days, they are doing it again. Did you know BK recently decided to overhaul their menu, making it more classy? Wendy’s did that a few years ago. Hey, guess what? They have smoothies! McDonald’s started that last year. But wait! They have chicken wraps! Yeah, McDonald’s has had those for at least 5 years now. I am seriously waiting for the day that they change the king to a clown and come out with a barbecued pork sandwich called the King’s Rib. (Remember you read that here first, and you owe me big Burger King) I imagine that the recent changes are BK’s panic response to the fact that they dropped from the number 2 slot behind Ronald, being replaced by Wendy’s.
I know this whole thing seems like I’m ripping on Burger King (and I totally am), but it is not without some love. I like BK. The one closest to my house used to be staffed with dicks, which was somehow fitting, but the drive through people are super nice (Second Street, Manchester NH. Seriously, they are cool) and as fast food goes, BK food is decent. It’s just that as a company, they kind of suck. if they were a friend, they would be the guy you hang out with, but you don’t really want to go out in public with him, because he’s probably going to get loud and pissy if someone gets too close to him on the sidewalk, so you just stay home and play X-Box with him.