I like to think that fast food advertising hit its stride in the' 80s with special promotions, movie tie-ins and celebrity endorsers. Okay, maybe that is because I am a self-centered child of the late 70's/early 80's but so be it, these are MY memories, dammit! Here's a Top 5 list of some of the most memorable fast food ads and no, this list has nothing to do with Dan Cortese. (If you want to see Katharine Shilcutt's favorites from the same era, click here.)
Wendy's Where's the Beef?
Some people think of a grandmother as tender and loving. I think of a grandmother as being feisty and angry at food servers. Clara Peller was America's favorite sourpuss in the '80s for declaring, "where's the beef"?
Hardee's California Raisin Biscuits
Hardee's is called Hardee's in the south and Car's Jr. out west. Back in the 1980s, though, the chain was just fighting to get some name recognition, so it introduced frosted cinnamon raisin biscuits to get the crowds in at breakfast. Can anyone name a better spokesfruit than the California Raisins? I'm not ashamed to say that I got one of those figures (the sax-playing one) when I was a kid, and I still hide in my basement and play with him sometimes.
The '80s were an era when greed was good, when neon was fashionable and when Jason Alexander had hair. The pre-Seinfeld George pranced down the street like a Shark extolling the virtues of keeping the cold side cold and the hot side hot. The post-Senifeld George is now working at McDonald's.
Burger King Where's Herb?
It was a sensation that swept a nation...find a nerd in a fast food restaurant. As a kid I was never really sure why this was a commercial, and it still doesn't make me want to eat a Whopper. But for some reason, it caught on.
Kentucky Fried Chicken Foghorn Leghorn
There was a time when KFC wasn't afraid to tell you that the "F" in their name stood for fried. Now they think you'll forget you are eating something fried when you are cramming a Double Down in your chicken hole. This ad wasn't iconic, necessarily, but I always find it odd when food companies use cartoon versions of the same animals they're selling. Does Foghorn Leghorn want you to eat his own people? At least Chick-fil-A has the decency to use cows to push chicken sandwiches.