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8 Secrets Burger King Doesn't Want You to Know

Here's the reality the chain would rather keep hidden.

The term "king" implies inherent status. It's the title of a conqueror, or at the very least, a person who has some sort of reign and power.

And maybe, when Burger King came into existence almost 70 years ago in Jacksonville, Fla. as "Insta-Burger King," that name wasn't off-base. The business expanded fairly rapidly: by the time the Whopper was unleashed in 1961, the chain was well on its way to becoming the second-largest burger joint in America. After it was purchased by Pillsbury, the chain perfected its franchise model and became a legitimate competitor to McDonald's. By then, of course, they'd shortened their moniker to "Burger King."

Unfortunately, in recent years, the regal stature of the name has felt less well-matched to the level of business Burger King is doing. Despite best efforts (hello, Impossible Whopper!), Burger King just can't seem to keep up. Here's the reality the chain would rather keep hidden.

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Burger King's sales are declining

burger king sandwiches fries and drinks

As reported last year, the numbers simply aren't in Burger King's favor in terms of sales. The chain saw a 2.8% decline in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. And while these are only the latest numbers, Burger King's sales have been lackluster for years.

And so is brand popularity

burger king
James R. Martin / Shutterstock

Sales are one thing, but reputation is an entirely different animal. According to the latest YouGov poll of brand popularity, customers see Burger King as unpopular and unhealthy. The chain ranked #28 on the list of most popular dining brands in America, below basically all of its competitors, including McDonald's, KFC, Chick-Fil-A, and Taco Bell.

The chain was late on eliminating harmful ingredients

burger king food

The fact that harmful ingredients were ultimately removed from Burger King's menu is a positive one. Burger King banned as many as 120 ingredients on the basis of them being either artificial or potentially harmful and unhealthy. Great! The only problem here? The chain did this just last year, and by touting the big change, it inadvertently drew attention to the fact that those ingredients were in the food in the first place.

Speaking of the menu, it's shrinking

burger king menu

If you're a fan of a fancy BK sandwich, make sure to snag it while you still can. Menu eliminations are coming, and the first items to go will be the ones that are more complicated to make.

The drive-thru wait time is going up

burger king drive thru sign
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The soon-to-be-removed menu items will ultimately go down as casualties of increased drive-thru times during an increasingly impatient era. According to Jose Cil, the CEO of Restaurant Brands International (which owns Burger King), a slimmer menu will cut down on decision-time at the ordering window as well as the time it takes to fulfill the order.

Paper coupons are being phased out

burger king wrapped whopper jr. and coupons
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Fully-loaded sammies aren't the only things on the chopping block over at BK headquarters. As of this past fall, the chain decided to forgo paper coupons altogether, in favor of offering digital deals on their app.

The brand is struggling on Twitter

twitter app
Nopparat Khokthong / Shutterstock

Who could forget the infamous Burger King Twitter fail of 2021? Almost exactly a year ago now, in recognition of International Women's Day, BK tweeted, "Women belong in the kitchen." The quip, which was intended to draw attention to the lack of female chefs and the scholarship program Burger King has set up to help change that, was quickly deemed tone-deaf.

Burger King's leadership is a revolving door

inside of burger king restaurant
Seika Chujo / Shutterstock

The brand has had over 20 different leaders since its inception, which might be contributing to issues with the brand's consistency in strategy over the years. Currently, the chain is run by Tom Curtis, who was promoted to president of Burger King U.S. & Canada in August of last year.

Kaley Roberts
Kaley Roberts is a food writer. Read more about Kaley