Why Burger King Whoppers In San Antonio Once Had A Different Name

The Burger King Whopper is perhaps one of the most iconic fast-food items of the past 50 years. Like the Big Mac at McDonald's, the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, or the Blizzard at Dairy Queen, the Whopper is just about synonymous with Burger King itself. In fact, it has been a part of the Burger King menu for almost as long as the fast-food company has been in existence, says Britannica.

Burger King got its start as "Insta-Burger King" in 1953, when original founders Keith Kramer and Matthew Burns took their inspiration from burger superstar and eventual fast rival McDonald's, which had recently opened in California, according to LiveAbout. The casual burger chain quickly grew until Kramer and Burns were operating multiple locations around Florida. Noticing Insta-Burger King's success, Miami-based entrepreneurs James McLamore and David Edgerton purchased an Insta-Burger King franchise in Miami. That same year, they founded the Burger King Corporation, with the aim of expanding it into a nationwide chain, as Reference for Business reports. The famous Whopper came along soon after — or at least it did in some parts of the country. 

A local chain owned the rights to the Whopper name in San Antonio

While the Whopper might be just about inseparable from Burger King itself, that wasn't always the case everywhere in the country. In fact, in the 1970s, as Burger King chains began to expand across the country, one city might not have been anticipating the arrival of the Whopper in their hometown because they already had one. 

A local chain called the Whopper Burger had been operating in the San Antonio area since 1955 when a local man named Frank Bates opened its first location, according to San Antonio Express-News. Over the years, Whopper Burger became successful, expanding to 20 restaurants around the San Antonio area. Bates had also owned and trademarked the rights to the name "Whopper" for his own burgers, which proved to be a problem for Burger King when the growing chain began looking to expand into the San Antonio market. Bates' son later opened his own chain, Burger Boy, in 1985, featuring the same chef logo from Whopper Burger, says San Antonio Express-News.

Burger King bought Whopper Burger in the 1980s

When Burger King opened their first San Antonio location in the 1970s, they were met with resistance from Bates, who didn't want the new chain's Whopper encroaching on their turf. The result was a copyright battle, in which Bates legally banned Burger King from using the name "Whopper" in any of their advertising, or in any of their restaurants, says San Antonio Express-News. Instead, the San Antonio Burger King was forced to rename the famous sandwich the "Deluxe" instead of the Whopper.

However, when Bates passed away in 1983, Burger King purchased Whopper Burger and changed the name of the "Deluxe" back to its original name, according to San Antonio Express-News. Although it took a few more years for Burger King to get a foothold in the San Antonio area, these days there are plenty of Burger King locations operating throughout Texas. And now, ordering a Whopper in San Antonio will give you the same flame-broiled Burger King burger that you can expect everywhere else in the country.