The History of Burger King – It Was Almost Called Insta-Burger King – Seriously
In 1952, Keith Cramer owned a carhop restaurant in Daytona Beach, FL. He flew out to California, on the advice of his stepfather, Matthew Burns, to see the newest innovation in restaurants at the time — McDonald’s.
Cramer was impressed with the speed and automation and he and Burns acquired the rights to George Read’s Miracle Insta-Machines. These were Rube Goldberg-type devices designed to make fast food really fast. One of the models made multiple milk shakes while the other, called the Insta-Broiler, could cook twelve burgers simultaneously. Four hundred burgers could be cooked in an hour with one machine.
In 1953, Cramer opened his fast food burger joint in Jacksonville and named it after the cooker — Insta-Burger King.
His burgers sold for 18 cents apiece (McDonald’s burgers at the time were 15 cents each) and they were a great success.
Two franchisers, James McLamore and David R. Edgerton, Jr., liked the concept and launched several Insta-Burger King restaurants in Miami in 1954. Fortunately — as you will see — they failed.
So McLamore and Edgerton began to experiment. Soon they got rid of the Insta-Broiler and created
a similar flame broiler — which made their renamed Burger King famous. They also introduced a much larger burger, the Whopper, of course, and sold it for 37 cents. This was considered a very risky business move at the time but, as we know, it paid off handsomely. It became their signature product and their tag-line became “Burger King, Home of the Whopper.”
They soon acquired the Insta-Burger Kings, renamed them and refitted them for their new products. They began to massively franchise in 1961 and soon their new restaurants were all over Florida and the rest of the nation.
Burger King was the first fast food hamburger joint to install indoor eating areas at their outlets — in 1967, a year before McDonald’s did the same.
Pillsbury acquired the chain in 1967 and began a massive promotional campaign. The slogans and jingles — such as the well known “Have it Your Way” — were a huge success and Burger King grew to the number 2 burger restaurant in the world.
By 2004, Burger King had more than 11,000 outlets in 61 countries and territories worldwide, including 7,000 in the United States.
Source: Alton Rush