Did you know any of the facts below?
#7 – Wendy’s Founder Saved KFC and the Future of Fast Food
Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, was actually brought on board by Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC, to save several KFC locations that were failing. Dave Thomas, who was then a young chef working for a local restaurant, made several changes that turned KFC into the successful franchise it is today.
It was Thomas who introduced a simpler menu that focused on signature items, he revised the logo that KFC uses today, and it was his idea to sell chicken in a bucket! He went on to help manage four KFC locations until he bought out (for $1.5 million dollars) and opened his own franchise, Wendy’s.
For many years he remained good friends with his mentor, Colonel Sanders.
#6 – Where’s the Beef and Here’s the Beef
McDonald’s and Burger King were some of Wendy’s biggest competitors so Wendy’s ran a popular ad campaign during the 1980’s.
In the commercials, actress Clara Peller would receive a burger from a competitor. The burger would have giant buns but with a very small patty inside. Clara Peller would then exclaim in anger, “Where’s the beef?”
This ad became so famous it ran for several years. In 2011 the campaign was revived. The new commercials focused on Wendy’s burgers where the actor/actress would open the buns, see the large patty, and exclaim “Here’s the beef!”
#5 – Melinda is Wendy
Melinda Lou Thomas, Dave Thomas’ daughter, inspired the name of the famous franchise. When she was a young kid she couldn’t pronounce her name right, saying “Meh-win-dah” instead of Melinda. She was then known to many as Wenda. From Wenda comes the name Wendy and the rest is history.
Melinda isn’t his only child. She has three sisters (Pam, Molly, and Lori) and a brother, Kenny, who passed away in 2013. Melinda and her sisters continue to run the majority of the business along with the company’s CEO and President.
#4 – Going Back to School
Dave Thomas had to drop out of school when he was a teenager. He landed his first job back when he was 12 but he lost it after getting into a heated argument with his boss. Since then he promised he would never lose another job.
So when he was 15, working in a restaurant as a kitchen, and his family was moving out of town he decided to drop out of school and stay with his job. It was a decision he regretted his whole life and he didn’t want to send that kind of message to children.
To fix that he went back to school and finally acquired his GED-high school diploma in 1993, 24 years after the first Wendy’s opened its doors.
#3 – The Baconator
The name alone should be something to be fearful of. The Baconator, which was obviously inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, was a large quarter-pound patty burger topped with three bacon strips. Then there was the Double Baconator and now there is the Triple Baconator.
The Triple Baconator consists of three quarter-pound patties, nine strips of bacon, four cheese slices, mayonnaise, and ketchup. It’s been listed as one of the top ten largest and most ridiculously amazing fast food items in the world.
#2 – 3rd Largest Burger Chain
When people think of fast food they often think of McDonald’s. That’s fine because McDonald’s is the world’s largest fast food chain. There are thousands of them all over the world. The 2nd chain to follow suit is Burger King.
Wendy’s, with over 6,600 locations in the world, is the 3rd largest fast food chain there is. It might seem smaller when compared to the numbers of McDonald’s and Burger King but for a franchise that started small and had a lot of competition to go up against, Wendy’s is incredibly successful as it is.
#1 – Drive-Through Pickup
Wendy’s wasn’t the first to introduce the idea of a drive-through – that honor goes to In-N-Out which introduced the concept of ordering through a speaker and then driving to a window to get the order. This was in 1948.
However, it was Wendy’s in 1971 that re-shaped how it worked and streamlined it to make it easier and quicker. It was this system that was later implemented in just about every fast food chain there is today, from McDonald’s to Arby’s and more.
Honorable Mention: 800 Dave Thomas Commercials
Founder Dave Thomas began appearing in Wendy’s commercials in 1989. At the time, however, his performance was a bit stiff and very unlike the funny, witty commercials most people are acquainted with today.
To remedy this, the writers shifted their focus to complement and even have fun with Dave’s awkward performance in front of the camera. It kicked off and he went on to star in over 800 commercials until he passed away in 2002.