The Burger King Joins Fast-Food Mascot Graveyard

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) – When Burger King agreed last September to a $4 billion buyout by private equity firm 3G Capital, we had a number of suggestions for how the chain could gain some ground in the fast-food wars. In addition to advising the company to stick to its flame-broiled patties while exploring healthier options, we also expressed our hope that they would keep offering free paper crowns to keep customers feeling royal.

It now looks like Burger King is poised to turn its back on one of the most enduring symbols of the fast food monarchy: the Burger King himself.

While there’s been no official announcement from the company, a Burger King marketing executive told USA Today that the “creepy king” character will be taking a backseat in the next year or so while the chain focuses on updating stores and introducing healthier food. Though the website still features plenty of advertisements that use the character, the chain recently parted ways with the agency that created him, and apparently the new marketing materials from the company will focus exclusively on the food. “There are no plans to bring the King back anytime soon,” the executive told the paper.

Color us disappointed on this one. We’ve always been fans of the quirky character, but the amusing commercials obviously weren’t getting people in the stores, as evidenced by a sagging stock price (Stock Quote: BKC) before its private buyout. And just as importantly, the new owners have recognized a lesson that various other fast food chains have learned: A mascot doesn’t have a very long shelf life before it’s put out to pasture.

Here are a few other once-famous mascots that went the way of the King:

Mayor McCheese and Friends (McDonald’s). Despite some public pressure, McDonald’s (Stock Quote: MCD) last year affirmed that it had no plans to do away with the long-running mascot. But the clown’s friends haven’t been so lucky. The denizens of McDonaldland, including the jolly lummox Grimace, the kleptomaniac Hamburglar and the stately Mayor McCheese, were gradually phased out at the turn of the century.

The Noid (Domino’s). Introduced in the ’80s, the Noid was a villainous creature who took pleasure in ruining pizza, though he was constantly thwarted when he tried his dastardly deeds on Domino’s (Stock Quote: DPZ). He even gave rise to a computer game Avoid the Noid, in which a pizza boy must, well, avoid the Noid. The character was mercifully killed off, though the chain briefly resurrected the character earlier this month for a short-lived Facebook campaign.

The Taco Bell Dog (Taco Bell). What better way to advertise Mexican cuisine than a Spanish-speaking Chihuahua? The iconic character, and his now-famous catchphrase, “Yo quiero Taco Bell,” were introduced in the late-90s, and he later exhorted America to “drop the Chalupa.” But in July 2000 the company (Stock Quote: YUM) dropped the dog instead, and a couple years ago the four-legged actor behind the character, Gidget, died of a stroke.

Some mascots have managed to adapt to survive. Here are ten who have persisted throughout the years.

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