What Burger King Was First Called

If you eat at Burger King regularly, you would probably do fairly well at a Burger King trivia game. Can you name one of the restaurant's famous slogans? What are the ingredients in the Whopper? Can you describe the restaurant's current mascot? These are all fairly easy questions for BK fans.

In the early days of Burger King, it was originally advertised as a "self-service drive-in" restaurant. Customers were able to see the Insta-Broiler instantly broiling their hamburgers (via The Burger King Book). The fast food service delighted new and returning customers of all ages, but over time, changes to the restaurant prompted a new name.

But do you know what Burger King's original name was? Maybe you didn't even know the restaurant ever had another name. Believe it or not, the Home of the Whopper was originally called Insta-Burger King, in celebration of the restaurant's Insta-Broiler machine which was used to make their burgers.

When and why did the restaurant change its name to Burger King?

In 1953, Keith Kramer and Matthew Burns opened the first Insta-Burger King in Jacksonville, Florida (via Insider). The following year, franchisees James McLamore and David R. Edgerton started opening their own locations in the Miami area, but they hit a snag (via The Burger King Book). With the constant daily use, the restaurants' Insta-Broilers began to malfunction, putting the company's overall success at risk.

Fueled by frustration, Edgerton set out to build a better broiler to save the business. The Burger King Book adds that Edgerton partnered with a mechanic named Karl Sundman, and the pair managed to produce the now-renowned flame broiler in three weeks. 

With Insta-Broilers replaced by flame broilers, the Insta-Burger King name no longer suited the restaurant, so "Insta" was eventually dropped. The restaurant's original founders later hit some snags of their own, financially, so they sold the company to McLamore and Edgerton in 1959, and Burger King became a national chain shortly after (via Britannica). As of 2022, Burger King serves food in more than 18,700 locations around the world.

The company continued to undergo changes in ownership after the name change (via ABC News), but the Burger King name remains.