Skip to content

Wendy's Founder Regretted Naming the Restaurant After His Daughter—Here's Why

Would "Dave's" have sounded better?
wendys sign

According to a new interview on the Wendy's blog, before the company's founder, Dave Thomas, died, he apologized for naming the restaurant after the real-life Wendy: his daughter.

"Before my dad left us, we had a long conversation about him naming the restaurant Wendy's," the real-life Wendy (whose name is Wendy Thomas-Morse) said. "It was the first time we'd ever had this conversation. He said, 'You know what? I'm sorry.' I asked him what he meant. He explained, 'I should've just named it after myself, because it put a lot of pressure on you.'"

Thomas founded Wendy's in 1969, and when it came time to name the famous chain, he looked to his family for inspiration. His daughters lined up in pigtails, and, camera in hand, Thomas snapped a few photos. Melinda Lou—nicknamed "Wenda" by her four siblings, which morphed into "Wendy" for the restaurant—was red-headed and young. She looked the part.

"Yep, it's going to be Wendy's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers," Thomas said, according to the newly-released interview celebrating the chain's 50th anniversary

RELATED: Wendy's Just Debuted a Birthday Cake Frosty—Its First New Flavor Since 2006

More on Burgers

  • pizza burger on wooden tray with marinara sauce

    13+ Healthy Hamburger Recipes

    Yes, you can eat burgers AND lose weight!
  • triple whopper cheese

    These Are the Unhealthiest Fast Food Burgers

    We ranked the worst of the worst.
  • Bacon cheeseburger

    17 Common Mistakes When Making Burgers

    Always bring your meat to room temperature!
  • people watching a game at a sports bar

    The Best Sports Bar in Your State

    So you know where to catch the next big game!
  • big mac

    Little Mac vs. Big Mac vs. Double Big Mac

    How all three sandwiches compare, nutritionally.

Roughly 6,500 storefronts worldwide later, the signature freckled cartoon has become a universally adored character.

"He wanted a character because he worked for the Colonel at Kentucky Fried Chicken and knew how much that persona mattered," said Thomas-Morse.

While Thomas-Morse acknowledges that the pressure was real, she doesn't wish the chain was called "Dave's." Sure, her parents dragged her to long press events in a homemade blue-and-white dress with her hair in uncomfortable pigtails (which Thomas-Morse said were held up by pipe-cleaners). But she got to take the first bite of the giant hamburgers made for each press event, which, as you can imagine, was exciting for the 8-year-old.

RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

Today, at 58, she's still excited. But now, it's all about the legacy.

"I love this brand. I will always love this brand, but not because my name is on the buildings. I love our products. I love our hamburgers. I just love everything. Why wouldn't I? It's our business. Our family business. For me, Wendy's is my family," she said.

She Lost 100 Pounds—And Shows You How!

Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Ilana Muhlstein lost her weight and kept it off—and in You Can Drop It!, she'll show you how to lose it, too. More than 240,000 clients have chosen her program—and now it’s yours to keep.

Kaley Roberts
Kaley Roberts is a food writer. Read more
Filed Under