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Which came first: McDonald's or Burger King?

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Jeff Roberson/AP/File

(Read caption) A McDonald's restaurant logo and golden arch on Chicago's near North Side.

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McDonald’s Corp. soon will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Ray Kroc’s first restaurant, which opened in Des Plaines, Ill., on April 15, 1955. It’s an important date, a cornerstone of its corporate history. It’s why the chain has featured a “1955 Burger” as a limited-time special across Europe since 2010. As UK ad put it, the 1955 is “A Tribute to Where it All Began.”

Except that just a few months earlier, on Dec. 4, 1954, James McLamore and David R. Edgerton opened their first Burger King on NW 36th Street in Miami.

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OK, four months older. Big deal? No, but it enough that Burger King has begun using a new service mark that says simply “Since 1954.” It appeared last week at the bottom of a Burger King Japan press release about availability of fries, hampered by  ongoing maritime problems. Burger King quietly trademarked “Since 1954” back in July 2014 (as well as the Spanish “Desde 1954”) when attention was focused on another trademarked phrase, “Be Your Way.”

I expect we’ll see more the brawny burger flipped, along with a another trademarked phrase, “Flame Grilled”—in Burger King marketing and communications, just as I expect we’ll see McDonald’s market the 1955 Burger here soon. But Burger King just wants McDonald’s to know, “Hey. Four months.”

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The Best of the Bash Award that Red Robin presents has become one of the most authentic elements of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Rachael Ray’s Amstel Light Burger Bash has become so clubby and choked with sponsorships that it’s becoming irrelevant, in my opinion. Consider that just this one-evening event had 38 sponsors. C’mon. If it takes that much corporate lucre to run the thing then scale it back down to real-world size and use actual burger chefs, who would love to take part and who could use exposure than Al Roker does.

Give a look at this year’s contestants. Jennifer Reed of Sugar Monkey was one of three pastry-chef participants (including Food Network’s Duff Goldman). Iron Chefs Jose Garces and Masaharu Morimoto? Why? “Chino Latino Fusion” maestro Chef Edgar Cano of Four Seasons Hotel, Mexico City? The list of Bash contestants is to the burger business what Super Bowl attendees are to real football fans.

Chef Josh Capon of Lure Fishbar in Miami Beach won the Judges Trophy, At least there’s a burger on his lunch (but not dinner) menu. Pincho Factory, Miami, one of the few burger bars represented, won the People’s trophy.

Yet another local restaurateur, Michell Sanchez of Miami’s Latin Grill House (where the menu lists 12 burgers), won Red Robin’s award presented by Chef-personality Marc Murphy. His Madlove Champ Burger patty blends brisket, chuck and sirloin and tops it with three cheeses, applewood maple-glazed bacon, butter lettuce, plum tomatoes, avocado and candied jalapenos.  He gets $10,000 and the opportunity to transform his winning burger into one of Red Robin’s upper-tier Finest burgers. Watch for it on the Red Robin menu in the fall.

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Local burger joints have been pricing burgers by number of patties forever. It’s surprising so few chains do it. But in Hong Kong Burger King has introduced Asian Spicy Stacker burgers, available in 2-patty ($5.15), 3-patty ($6.44) and 4-patty ($7.73). No extra SKUs; no extra training.


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