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The [Burger King] King is Dead. Long Live the King.

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Food World, June 2011: it’s all changing, everywhere! First Mark Zuckerberg vows to only eat what he kills (inciting the Winklevoss twins to say the same thing, a few days later). Then the USDA tells us we picked the WRONG GEOMETRIC SHAPE to guide our well-balanced diets. And now — maybe three times as sad as either of those — Burger King decides to change tacks with its menu and overall design. You’re not crying yet? Consider that soon lost to the annals of fast food history will be its bizarre/genius Facebook initiatives; its line of Whopper-scented cologne (one presumes). But most significantly, undoubtedly, will be the loss of maybe the most disturbing mascot ever to grace a national commercial or fuel our collective nightmares. The Burger King…King is about to be sacked.

(Note: From here the royal icon will be referred to as “The Burger King,” his place of rule “BK.”)

To many, The Burger King was just a creepy man in an oversized plastic mask used to frighten children when they were being bad, or obese. But to those familiar with the BK menu and company ethos these past however many years, the King’s influence cannot be overstated. He WAS BK, in everything from its outlandish advertising campaigns to sandwiches like the Quad Stacker, which causes almost instantaneous heart disease. It’s no secret (or it probably is for any normal person) that the company has seen its profit and market share decline in the last half-decade or so. But that’s the breaks focusing your advertising on stoned frat guys and plastic fetishists; that’s the price you pay for being the craziest burger chain on the planet. That BK is willing to so unceremoniously dump its guiding light now to try and be McDonald’s 2 screams of disloyalty, and maybe treason.

BK has every right to try and improve its menu as it sees fit, replacing cupcake sundaes with gluten-free brioche smoothies, but lost in this hasty overhaul is the fact that the royal iconography works with practically everything. You think the King clashes with the new black and red restaurant interiors? Can’t be emblematic of the “best in class” quality espoused VP of Global Innovation Jonathan Muhtar? In my head right now is the FUNNIEST commercial for BK’s new Asian Chicken Salad, and it’s ONLY possible with the creepiest royal in the land.

But BK is going to do what BK is going to do, and that means our time with the King will soon come to an end. Our responsibility? Remember. Cherish. For once we can’t have it our way, but we can be grown-ups in the face of a decision over which we have no control. We’ll always have this:

We’ll always have the terrifying, ceaseless nightmares.

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