Dispatches from the Fast Food Wars of the Twentieth Century

In the Fast Food Wars of the 1970s and early 1980s, before Wendy’s Clara Peller and “Where’s The Beef” became a national phenomenon, it was a death match between McDonald’s and Burger King. With stiff competition from Ronald McDonald and his McDonaldland* cohorts — Grimace, the Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese, etc. — Burger King conceived a rival fantasy world dubbed the Burger King Kingdom. Led by the Burger King, the kingdom was far more subversive in nature, populated by a band of fringe characters such as the Burger Thing, the Duke of Doubt, the Wizard of Fries, and Sir Shakes-A-Lot. Though Ronald McDonald and his billion dollar armies eventually attained world supremacy, both McDonaldland and the Burger King Kingdom were phased out. Today, all that remains of the kingdom’s legacy, are a series of surreal commercials and rare merchandise.

Burger King Kingdom: Sir Shakes-A-Lot (1980)

According to lore, Sir Shakes-A-Lot was a knight in the Burger King Kingdom whose craving for milkshakes sent him into uncontrollable tremors. In today’s lexicon, he would be labeled as a fiend.

Burger King Kingdom: The Duke of Doubt (1978)

Contrary to popular belief, the Burger King did not derive his power from jurisdiction over the Burger King Kingdom, but from his skills as a master magician. The Burger King’s arch nemesis, the Duke of Doubt, was named so because he doubted the king’s magical abilities.

Burger King Kingdom: “Rodeo” with The Wizard of Fries (1980)

The Wizard of Fries was a robot powered by French fries (visible at 0:49 mark). It also had the ability to endlessly duplicate a single fry, which, we can only assume, made him invaluable throughout the kingdom.

Burger King Kingdom: Sir Shakes-A-Lot w/ Burger King, Duke of Doubt, and the Burger Thing (1979)

The arrival of Sir Shakes-A-Lot in a floating cup is the focal point of this commercial, but there’s a brief appearance by the kingdom’s enigmatic Burger Thing — a hybrid talking burger/living portrait.

Burger King Kingdom: “Disco King!”

A magical disco party, thrown by the Burger King, and attended by gangs of delirious children. All the king’s subjects make an appearance (Sir Shakes-A-Lot, Burger Thing, etc.), and his arch nemesis, the Duke of Doubt, ends up imprisoned in a jukebox somewhere in an undisclosed Burger King franchise.

*In truth, neither McDonaldland nor the Burger King Kingdom were original in concept. According to Cecil Adams, the idea for McDonaldland was borne from an attempt to swindle Sid and Marty Krofft, creators of  H. R. Pufnstuf, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Lidsville, etc. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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