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Watch TV for long enough and you’re bound to see a fast food commercial or two. They’re some of the most varied and creative ads on television, and with good reason: Fast food isn’t exactly an easy sell, so simply showing a picture of a burger and explaining it isn’t going to cut it. Chains need to resort to some serious hijinks to snag your attention (and business), and sometimes they go a little overboard.
The Most Bizarre Fast Food Commercials of All Time (Slideshow)
When a fast food chain has a new product to advertise, their commercials tend to be rather straightforward: explain the new product and why you should buy it. But when it’s not advertising anything in particular except for itself, there’s really not much to say; everybody knows what KFC is. That’s when brands need to get creative. Occasionally, they get a little too creative.
Nobody ever said that it was easy to be funny. While the rule of thumb is that the funnier a commercial is, the more memorable it will be, it’s important to realize that there are many, many different styles of humor out there. The Sonic guys, for example, just sit in their car discussing the Sonic menu, and it’s pretty funny in a straightforward, sitcom-style way. But when advertisers decide to take the bizarre humor route, the results can be far less predictable.
Some of these campaigns were memorable and long-lived, some were just one-offs that left people scratching their heads, some were meant to usher in huge marketing campaigns but failed miserably, some are still so recent that their long-term impact won’t be known for a while. But any way you slice it, these commercials were weird — some of the weirdest in the history of television. Read on for eight of the most bizarre fast food commercials of all time.
Wendy’s: Give a Little Nibble
Remember Wendy’s big follow-up to the legendary “Where’s the Beef?” campaign called “Give a Little Nibble”? Neither does anybody else. The unsettling 1987 commercial, in which customers yanked off handfuls of ground beef from a giant burger, was supposed to launch a new campaign that would propel the brand back to relevancy, but instead it just weirded everybody out. It was pulled after seven weeks, and the ad agency behind it was fired.
McDonald’s: Introducing Ronald McDonald
If you’ve never seen the very first commercial to feature Ronald McDonald, from 1963, well… you probably don’t want to. It’s terrifying. Aired by McDonald’s in 1963 and starring weatherman Willard Scott as Ronald, it features a Ronald wearing a big box of food on his head and a paper cup for a nose. It’s deeply unsettling, to say the least.
16 Bizarre Fast Food Items That Are Ridiculously Over the Top
T aco Bell announced it was retiring the beloved waffle taco this week, but in the same breath revealed a new piece of fast-food fusion: the biscuit taco. But America isn’t the only country trying its hand at fast food experimentation &mdash strange food mash-ups premiere regularly around the world. But not every attempt at food fusion is successful. Here are 16 different international fast food items that don&rsquot just cross the line &mdash they race across it at a breakneck speed.
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Over the years, commercials have ended up doing some seriously strange things.
Despite having the best of intentions, some adverts have pushed the wrong buttons and made a whole bunch of us extra mad.
Here, we take a look at the biggest scandals around fast food adverts.
Read More: These are the biggest fast food scandals
1. Kendall Jenner Saves the World
Pepsi’s attempt to capitalise on growing racial tensions in America might well go down as one of the biggest PR gaffes in recent history.
If the advert in question was to be believed, all that was needed to quell rising tensions between America’s police force and civil rights activists was a can of Pepsi. Needless to say, those on the frontline of the conflict weren’t having any of it.
2. McDonald’s Sexist French Fries
Advertising has a long unhappy history of misogyny, so we really shouldn’t be surprised when big businesses do something sexist.
In 2014, McDonald’s came under fire for literally comparing woman to food in the UK, for this poster of their French Fries. Needless to say, the campaign was short-lived.
3. 7-Up and Babies
It’s much more difficult to tell an outright lie in this day and age, but the 1950s were a different story. A golden era for dodgy advertisers, this particular example suggested that mothers should mix 7-Up with their baby milk as it was a “wholesome combination”. Looking back, “wholesome” is about the last word that springs to mind.
4. Pot Noodle Prostitutes
The theory that sex sells has long been a principle at the heart of the advertising industry, but this 2002 British commercial may have taken things too far. Not only does the ad in question feature a cruise through a red light district, but it comes complete with the questionable slogan, “The Slag of all Snacks”. Small wonder it got banned.
5. Burger King Better Than Sex
It’s not just the British who have a problem with sex and food. In 2009, this suggestive Singaporean ad caused an outcry for comparing Burger King’s new “Super Seven-Incher” sandwich to oral sex. What’s more, it later became clear that the model on the poster had no idea what her image was being used for.
6. Carl’s Border Burger
Infamous for their less than progressive depictions of women, Carl’s Junior took bad taste to an all new level when they combined bikinis and Donald Trump’s border wall in one fell swoop. Featuring a game of scantily clad volleyball, critics accused the commercial of cultural appropriation, racism and sexism.
7. Trump’s Terrible Pizza
Trump might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you would expect him, as a native New Yorker, to know what he’s doing when it comes to pizza. Perhaps that’s what makes the sight of him eating pizza backwards in this Pizza Hut commercial all the more upsetting.
Throw in a joke about divorce and the fact that this man now has nuclear codes, and you have the perfect recipe for a terrifying advert.
It’s easy to think that we’ve come a long way in our outlook and social values. However, to anyone who says that sexism, racism and any other ism are things of the past, I invite you to reexamine the list above.
Obviously, we’re still more than capable of doing and saying stupid things.
The Most Bizarre Fast Food Commercials of All Time - Recipes
I don't eat much fast food anymore. Maybe it's because I read Fast Food Nation a few years back and that scared me off the chalupas and whoppers. Or it could be because the doctor told me to watch my fat intake and ease off the fried foods.
When I really think about it though, those excuses are kinda lame. I think that the real reason I don't eat fast food is because fast food restaurants are doing their damndest to scare us away from their restaurants. I mean look at the weirdos they have peddling their food. Scary clowns? Creepy old men? Purple blobs? The fast food companies been subjecting us to these creeps for years, but recently the situation has become unbearable.
So without further ado, I present to you my list of the 10 creepiest fast food mascots [note: I'm limiting the list to characters peddling goods for fast food outlets - I realize that the Kool Aid Man and Count Chocula are also disturbing, but that's for another list]:
#10: The Quiznos Rat/Hamster Thing
Who thought selling fresh, healthy sandwiches alongside a mangy deranged rodent was a good idea? The last thing I want to think about when I'm eating food is some bubonic plague carrying, disease-ridden rat. At least Subway had the decency to saddle us with link.
Need more evidence? Tell me you want a Quiznos sub after link
A fixture of the Dominos Pizza commercials from the 80s and 90s, the Noid was a small goblin-like humanoid with rabbit ears dressed in a tight red latex suit that communicated via a series of chortles and grunts. Tell me that ain't creepy.
Need more evidence? The link was bad enough. But adults dressing up as the Noid for Halloween and, more recently, 80s parties? Oh the humanity!
Most of us think that clowns are creepy. But what about jack-in-the-boxes? Well, they're just glorified clowns, with springs that pop out of boxes. So they're double creepy.
Need more evidence? Any of the link with his big round head and that cheshire cat smile.
Dear McDonalds, what exactly is this Grimace creature you have spawned? Is he a mutated prune? A malformed mushroom? Is he an obese American fast food consumer whose skin took on an unearthly hue after consuming one too many Happy Meals? Either way, the last thing I need to think about when I'm eating a 1000 calorie cheeseburger is some overweight muppet.
Need more evidence? Did you know link and a penchant for stealing milkshakes? He also had an equally hideous green uncle, link (as if one wasn't enough).
It's like Hannibal Lector is sporting the Oompa Loompa hairdo (at least in this pic). I dunno, when I'm eating Chicken out of a bucket I really don't want some old guy with a goatee grinning back at me. Which makes me wonder, why aren't there more hot female fast food icons? Honestly, where are they? Where's the Colonelette?
Need more evidence? Apparently in Japan most of the KFC locations have on-site Colonel statues to greet you. In the Japanese city of Kansai, poor treatment of one of the Colonel statues has led to an apparent link on that city's baseball team.
Mister Softee has helped peddle ice cream treats to kids in the Northeast for 50 years. I cringed when I first saw him. Man with a cone for a head with soft serve billowing out the top. And don't get me started on his link (isn't this the kind of thing that gets inserted into film trailers for The Omen?)
Need more evidence? link featuring a LIVE-ACTION Mister Softee. Apparently David Caruso (CSI) starred as Mr. Softee's roommate in link. Oh the nightmares I will have forevermore. truly freaky.
#4: Modern Ronald McDonald
Does this one really require explanation? The flaming red hair. The pasty white face. The demonically shaped mouth and the pencil thin arched eyebrows. Yikes!
Clowns, clowns, clowns. Clowns are evil. Clowns are bad! Don't believe me? link.
More creepy evidence: There's no shortage of horrific McDonald's television commercials, but this one link really bugs me.
#3: Old-School Ronald McDonald
The only thing more horrific than the current McDonald's clown is the old-school original. Who designed this monstrosity? It looks like someone strapped a food tray atop his head and attached a dixie cup to his nose and called it a day (link). This thing is hideous. If I saw this on the street, I'd run for help.
Need more evidence? Even after they revamped the look of the old-school Ronald, he was still damned freaky. link
#2: The Tastee Freez Twins
More soft-serve inspired mascots. Twins 'Tee' and 'Eff', like Mister Softee, have been around for half a century. But unlike Softee, there are two of these menaces, so I'm putting them up higher.
Need more evidence? The wonderful site link turned me onto this freaky looking life-sized Tastee Freez statue. Gotta love the soft serve head that kinda oozes into a shapeless face. The lips also look ready to melt off in a big dollop of soft cream. Yum. link
The only thing scarier than Ronald or Mister Softee is Burger King's 'King'. As if to underscore the King's inherent creep-factor, Burger King even link.
Need more evidence? Remember the link ads from a couple years back (link, and link)? Do you really want to wake up to this guy? DO YOU.
The McDonald's McDLT might have helped launch the career of Seinfeld's Jason Alexander with a commercial that probably has one of the best jingles of the decade, but it wasn't an uber successful burger even though it remained on the menu from 1984 until the early 1990s.
The McDLT was served in a styrofoam container which was the main reason for its demise, but it wasn't placed in just any container, the whole gimmick around the McDLT was that it had to be served in a massive Styrofoam container that would make Greenpeace cringe. One side featured the hot hamburger patty and bottom bun and the other side had lettuce, tomato, and a slice of cheese. The fancy container was designed to "keep the hot side hot, and the cool side cool." Those who ordered the sandwich had to do the final prep work by stacking the two sides together. Ken Forton told Serious Eats that a lot of McDonald's locations couldn't properly prepare the burger stating, "There was a special heating-cooling machine that we had. It was like a rack heater, but cold on one side, and hot on the other. I think a lot of locations just used regular heaters, so customers only ever got warm burgers."
Chick-fil-A will never go public
The restaurant business is by default dicey — you're at the whim of tastes and trends. One of the hottest fast food restaurant is Chick-fil-A, with revenues in the billions annually. That's why investors consistently crave some CFA stock. It ain't gonna happen.
Founder Truett Cathy died in 2014. He started what became Chick-fil-A in 1946, and just like the ads say, he invented the chicken sandwich, — at least at the fast food level. Before he passed away, he created a contract that stipulated the company remain private. His heirs can sell the chain, but it must remain private. Why subjugate his kin from the potential billions in windfall? Simply because Cathy knew that publicly, Chick-fil-A could not be as charitable as it is privately. The deeply religious man believed in charity as much as the time-tested policy of closing on Sunday. He also had a problem with taking orders from outsiders, once saying, "I'd be resentful if shareholders who don't know the business tried to tell me what to do."
Others have guessed that his intentions to stay private stemmed from a desire to remain ultra conservative, though that hasn't been confirmed. While it's hard to say whether or not Cathy's stipulations are binding, his heirs have honored his wishes so far.
Dove: Facebook misfire (2017)
The champion of ‘real beauty’ has come under fire recently for what some consumers have dubbed “whitewashing”. In a Facebook ad for Dove body wash, the brand chose to portray a black woman removing her top and metamorphosizing into a white woman after using the product. This sparked outrage among the brand’s social media followers, who slammed the business with hashtags like #DoneWithDove and called for a boycott of its products.
The ad was removed by Dove and the brand publicly apologized for its misdemeanor. This misfire is not the first of its kind for the beauty brand there are a series of accusations of whitewashing that date back to 2011 in previous skincare campaigns, as well as the controversy caused by its Real Beauty bottle designs in 2017. Despite these setbacks, Dove has scored success with GirlGaze and Getty Images, in a move to create the world's largest photographic stock library created by women and non-binary individuals. This move will hopefully protect the brand from further critique by guaranteeing equal representation in its future advertising.
Dove is owned by Unilever and has worked with the likes of Ogilvy & Mather in producing ad campaigns.
The 17 Most Influential Burgers of All Time
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The fictional Simpsons hangout was so popular, it became a real-life restaurant in 2013, when Universal Studios Orlando opened a Simpsons theme park. Ironically, menu staples like the Clogger Burger and the Mother Nature Burger&mdashdismissed as gross on the cartoon&mdashfetch over $10 in real life.
In October of 2014, Chicago heavy-metal-themed bar Kuma’s Corner launched one of the most outrageous burgers to date: the Ghost Burger&mdashit’s named after Swedish metal band Ghost B.C.&mdashwas topped with an unconsecrated Communion wafer. The dish sold well, but angered Catholics (and garnered national headlines), prompting the owners to donate $1,500 to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The ordering lingo for this Atlanta staple, which debuted in 1928, is almost as delicious as the burger itself: you get it &ldquoall the way&rdquo in lieu of &ldquowith onions,&rdquo and &ldquowalk a steak&rdquo replaces &ldquoto-go.&rdquo These branding gimmicks were later replicated by burger chains like In-N-Out, whose secret menu (see: &ldquoanimal style&rdquo and “protein style”) has helped lure millions of customers.
Arguably the first &ldquomodernist cuisine&rdquo patty, the Umami Burger&mdashunveiled by Adam Fleischman in 2009&mdashis meant to taste like, well, umami (a savory taste embodied in MSG), incorporating such toppings as soy-roasted tomatoes, parmesan crisps and pickled ginger. The patty’s success has fueled the opening of 21 additional locations.
President Obama treated then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to one of these patties in Arlington in 2010&mdashObama&rsquos was reportedly ordered plain, while Medvedev added jalapeños, mushrooms and onions. And the meal may have fostered intimacy between the two leaders: less than two years later, Obama was caught on a hot mic asking Medvedev for space on missile defense policy, explaining, &ldquoThis is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.&rdquo Medvedev was amenable.
This so-called hybrid burger&mdashtwo parts ramen, one part beef patty&mdashdrew vast crowds at the Smorgasburg outdoor food market in Brooklyn throughout the summer of 2013 (mere months after the cronut craze). Soon, the Keizo Shimamoto creation had enough hype to debut in L.A. and even inspired a knockoff in the Philippines, cementing its status as a global obsession. Alas, there’s no official ramen-burger restaurant yet&mdashwould-be tasters have to monitor its Facebook page to see where it’ll be served next.
The burger may be a mostly American creation, but many other countries have launched their own chains&mdashand burger variants&mdashto capitalize on its success. Among the most prominent: MOS (a.k.a. &ldquoMountain Ocean Sun&rdquo) Burger, which opened in Japan in 1972. Although its signature patty mimics the U.S. classic, other items are designed around Japanese tastes there&rsquos a teriyaki burger and a grilled salmon rice burger. Similar tactics have worked in other regions, too: in India, Nirula’s chain serves potato and mint patties in lieu of beef, and in Malaysia, Ramly Burger offers patties wrapped in an egg envelope inside the bun.
Although this twist on the cheeseburger&mdashin which the cheese is melted inside the patty&mdashwas reportedly invented in the 1920s, when chefs were still experimenting with the burger, it gained national attention in 2008, thanks to a feud between two Minneapolis bars that both claim to have “invented” it. Since then, there have been numerous imitators, proving that a little innovation and a dash of hype is all it takes to reinvigorate enthusiasm for a classic.
Correction: The original version of this story misstated the date of invention of the Jucy Lucy. It was put on the menu at Matt’s in 1954.
With global demand for meat expected to grow 60% by 2050, the amount of farmland and grain needed to feed those chickens, pigs and cows may be unsustainable. But this burger, which was unveiled last year by Mark Post of Maastricht University, has none of those hang-ups&mdashit&rsquos grown in a lab from cow stem cells, which means it may even be palatable for vegetarians. The only issue: for now, it carries a $325,000 price tag.
Jon Basso, owner of The Heart Attack Grill, has drawn national attention (and outrage) for his gluttonous offerings since the restaurant first opened in 2005, offering free meals for those over 350 pounds. His most notorious dish is this behemoth, which layers eight slices of cheese between four half-pound patties and clocks in at nearly 10,000 calories. One regular customer, a kind of spokesman for the restaurant, actually died in front of the Las Vegas eatery in 2013. The burger became an exemplar of the more-is-more burger culture, preceding a series of other gluttonous dishes including Paula Deen’s doughnut-encased Lady’s Brunch Burger.
The 2004 invention&mdashtopped with a tangy, secret-recipe ShackSauce&mdashwas the first burger to start a food craze, inspiring hordes of eaters to wait in lines that stretched throughout New York&rsquos Madison Square Park. And Danny Meyer’s decision to grind prime cuts of whole muscle, rather than scraps, completely transformed the way we think of burgers, according to Josh Capon, the four-time winner of New York&rsquos Burger Bash.
The original veggie burger was invented in 1981 at&mdashgo figure&mdashthe Gardenhouse, an Oregon vegetarian restaurant, and it consisted mainly of leftover vegetables and grains. Before long, it was the most popular item on the menu, living on even after the restaurant closed as a frozen-food item that was packaged and sold internationally. Today, the Gardenburger and its imitators, from MorningStar to Boca, have become mainstays at conscientious cook-outs nationwide.
The quarter-pound patty, introduced in 1957, was the fast food industry&rsquos first gimmick burger&mdashdeveloped as a premium alternative to McDonald&rsquos, Wendy&rsquos and others. Burger King&rsquos stunt inspired its competitors to create their own &ldquodeluxe&rdquo versions. Among them: the McDonald&rsquos Big Mac.
When the 21 Club introduced its gourmet burger in the late 1940s or early 1950s, New Yorkers were shocked that an upper-class establishment would offer something as lowly as the burger&mdashand at the exorbitant price of $2.75, compared with McDonald’s’ 15 cents. Nevertheless, it was a hit. &ldquoThe [higher quality] beef did make a difference,&rdquo says Andrew F. Smith, author of Hamburger: A Global History, &ldquoand it certainly was something very different than simply fast food.&rdquo The luxury burger has since become a mainstay at many higher-end restaurants, from Le Parker Meridien (a high-low offering in the lobby’s Burger Joint) to db Bistro Moderne (the truffle, foie gras and short ribs DB Burger) to Hubert Keller&rsquos (the foie gras-topped Fleur Burger, which costs $5,000 and is served with a bottle of 1995 Château Pétrus).
Whereas McDonald&rsquos focused on fast, In-N-Out focused on food&mdashits signature burger, which debuted in 1948, was made from locally sourced ground beef and fresh vegetables. That approach may have prevented In-N-Out&rsquos expansion (it has just 294 locations today, compared with McDonald&rsquos 34,000-plus), but it certainly hasn&rsquot dampened foodie enthusiasm: the In-N-Out burger routinely tops best-of burger lists, and has inspired the launch of other higher-end fast food chains, such as Five Guys.
Behold, the burger that Smith says &ldquomoved fast food from a small operation to a global operation.&rdquo The original McDonald&rsquos patty, which debuted in San Bernardino, Calif., spawned an empire that now spans 118 countries&mdashmaking the price of its beefier counterpart, the Big Mac, ubiquitous enough to serve as an informal measure of purchasing-power parity, as seen in The Economist&rsquos Big Mac index.
Courtesy of Jamba Juice
Sometimes a smoothie just doesn't cut it for breakfast—that's when this breakfast wrap comes in. Jamba Juice makes this wrap (but it's just a burrito) all day. It gets a crunch crispy exterior that elevates the whole dish.
Sure, you could keep getting your favorite burger-and-fries order. But if you want to spice things up, try one of these underrated fast-food dishes instead.