Where’s the beef? The Burger Wars of the 1980’s: Here’s Why These Three Fast Food Chains are the Most Remembered

When you think back to the 1980’s you can’t help but recall that famous saying, “Where’s the beef?” Fast food chains were on the rise in the 80’s due to the unprecedented convenience for families, students, and really any working person, to get food on the fly.  Yes, the burger wars of the 80’s were a real thing and even though food consumption and menus have changed since then, the 80’s brought us fast food that we will never forget.

#1 Wendy’s

Wendy’s was known for the feisty yet lovable grandmother who yelled “Where’s the Beef?” in their most famous TV commercials of the 80’s. It was no surprise that Wendy’s was in direct competition with Burger King and McDonald’s. What was a surprise, however, was how they were able to stand out from the other burger establishments through the years.

Yes, they claimed their stake in what was known as the Burger Wars of the 80’s. Wendy’s became famous for its square burgers. In fact, they capitalized on this and they began selling two 2-ounce burgers for .99 cents as opposed to a quarter pound burger like its competitors. It was brilliant and their burger sales skyrocketed as they were the first fast food restaurant to target the cash-strapped young-adult market and was the first to offer discounted menu items.

Now here’s a little secret you might not be aware of. Did you know Wendy’s snagged the overall top rating from Restaurants and Institutions in 1988 and in 1994, beating out Burger King, McDonald’s and six other competitors? Where’s the beef? Our guess is Wendy’s.

#2 McDonald’s

McDonald’s has always been known for its classic Cheeseburger, Big Macs, Happy Meals, and we can’t forget to mention that friendly clown, Ronald McDonald. Did you know that McDonald’s first introduced Chicken McNuggets and the McChicken sandwich in the 1980’s? You may even recall the 

McDLT. Yes, it was served in a two-sided container, one for hot and the other for cold. It was then the job of the customer to assemble their perfect hamburger. Later this item was discontinued from the menu because of concerns over styrofoam use and its environmental impact. 

What kid didn’t beg their parents for a Happy Meal? You know you still want one…go ahead, order it and feel like a kid again. Also, its portion size will remind you of the 80’s and put a smile on your face while you indulge.  

#3 Burger King

Burger King was known for its flame-broiled Whopper. You may recall smelling that fresh grilled scent when you pulled into the parking lot. They wanted to be recognized as the King of fast food royalty, thus the name Burger King. They even gave out free golden paper crowns with colored jewels on them to prove it. If you were a kid in the 80’s being crowned was possibly one of your most memorable highlights from a trip to Burger King.

It’s not hard to believe that Burger King and McDonald’s were in direct competition in the 80’s. In fact, they still are today. One of the many ways Burger King would try to stand out from the competition was through the collectibles they offered. Did you ever have any of Burger King’s collectible cups? Burger King would often partner with popular movies and then feature the characters on their collectible cups, it was one of the many ways they kept you coming back for more.


So, whether you prefer the Big Mac, Whopper, or Dave’s double cheeseburger, these chains continue to battle it out as they compete for the number one spot in the fast food industry. Just remember fast food lovers, if you are done super-sizing it, simply ask for your favorite classics from the 80’s. Who’s hungry!?

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