Since it burst onto the scene in the 1950s, the Whopper has cemented itself as one of the world’s favourite burgers. A staple on every Burger King for nearly seven decades, there aren’t many sandwiches that can claim to have had such a significant influence on our fast food.
The formula of flame grilled patty, tomato, lettuce, onion, mayo, pickles and ketchup might sound simple, but there’s actually a lot more to the Whopper than meets the eye. Behind the burger is a hidden history of internet trolling, odd ingredients and celebrity connections. Here are a few weird things that you never knew about the Whopper.
1. It gave us Ellen Degeneres
Ellen might now be one of the most famous faces on TV, but back in the 70s she was as anonymous as everyone else. It was the Whopper that brought her into the limelight. Speaking to The Huffington Post, Degeneres revealed that her first ever comedy routine consisted of standing on stage with a Burger King meal, starting a story over and over again, only to interrupt herself by munching on the sandwich. The rest is history.
2. It has a big family
It might be a modern food classic, but even legends need to be shaken up every so often. Over the years, the Whopper has received dozens of makeovers, ranging from the conservative Whopper Jr, to the more extravagant Windows 7 Whopper - featuring seven separate beef patties - and the black-bunned Halloween Whopper.
3. It was once made with horse-meat
Beef might be the basis for almost every great burger, but occasionally wires get crossed. In 2013, as the UK was in the grip of a horsemeat scandal, Burger King were forced to admit that their British Whoppers had become contaminated and were being served with traces of horse. As a precaution, the business moved its burger production to the European mainland.
4. It is a serial internet troll
As good as they are at making burgers, Burger King’s real talent seems to lie in their ability to annoy the internet. The Whopper has been at the centre of several of their most controversial campaigns, including their 2009 effort to convince fans to unfriend Facebook users in exchange for a free burger.
5. It’s been used to hack Google
Burger King’s technological tomfoolery isn’t just restricted to Facebook. In 2017, they launched one of their most divisive campaigns yet, harnessing the power of Google’s voice search technology. An advert showed an employee holding up a sandwich, before asking, “Ok Google, what is a Whopper burger?”, which then caused viewers’ Google Home devices to start reading out the ingredients from Wikipedia.
6. It was once left handed
Before the age of the internet, advertising campaigns had to be more down to earth. In 1998, Burger King announced plans to release a left-handed Whopper, to service the needs of their “1.4 million left-handed customers”. The sandwich would contain all the ingredients of the regular Whopper, only rotated 180 degrees. It took longer than it should have for people to realise the whole thing was an April Fool.
7. It has been served for breakfast
Much to the chagrin of health experts and clean eaters, Burger King decided that no meal was off limits in 2014. In 5,000 restaurants, the chain decided to include the Whopper as a potential breakfast option, making mornings significantly less light-weight than they once were. Dubbed “Burgers at Breakfast”, the move received mixed reviews from a stuffed public.
When something is as famous as a Whopper, it’s easy to convince yourself that there’s nothing surprising to learn about it. As this collection proves, there’s a lot more to Burger King’s star than initially meets the eye. Long live the king.