Here’s How These 7 Famous Fast Food Restaurants Got Their Names
McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Domino’s—chances are, you know right away that these are all names of fast food joints. But have you ever stopped to wonder how each of these places got their names?
When you actually stop to think about it, the names of most fast food restaurants sound pretty random. (Seriously, how does a place that sells sandwiches get donned “Subway,” am I right?)
However, there are actually reasons behind each name—and some are pretty interesting. Without further ado, here’s some brief history into some of your favorite fast food joints, and how their names came to be.
McDonald’s started as a hot dog stand in 1937, when Richard and Maurice McDonald, also known as Dick and Mac, opened their first restaurant in Monrovia, California. They later opened a bigger location in San Bernardino, when a man named Ray Kroc discovered them. He eventually bought them out in 1954, but didn’t change the name. Alas, “McDonald’s” forever. (Too bad it’s not called “McDonald’s bros, though, huh?)
This burger haven got its start in 1953 by a man named Keith J. Kramer and his wife’s uncle Matthew Burns. Back then, they initially called i t“Insta-Burger King,” because the burgers were made from the Insta-Broiler, which cooked burgers quickly. However, it was soon discovered the drippings of the beef patties were ruining the Insta-Broiler, so they switched to a mechanized gas grill and, alas, altered its name.
If you think the owner of Wendy’s is named Wendy, then you’d be wrong. The owner is named Rex David Thomas. But he has a daughter whose name is…not Wendy. It’s Melinda Lou, but Melinda couldn’t say her name when she was younger, and referred to herself as Wendy. And so, Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers it was. Cute enough for ya?
It’s obvious this name wants to promote “chicken” somehow, but how did the rest come to be? It’s thanks to Truett Cathy, the founder, who was just trying to come up for the name of the chicken sandwich he had spent years developing the recipe for, which was going to be sold at a local diner. Since the best cut of beef is a “fillet,” she thought, why not refer to it as a chicken fillet? But that was too basic—he purposely misspelled it, and then capitalized the A to reflect “top quality.” A+, Cathy!
A chipotle is a smoked and dried jalapeño chili pepper. The restaurant specializes in tacos and burritos. It just kind of just made sense for founder Steve Ells. However, he actually got a lot of backlash from people telling him the name was too hard to pronounce. Sure, it doesn’t roll off the tip of the tongue, but it totally works! (Real talk: Who else’s mom says ‘Chip-ote-el’?).
Nope, the name Domino’s doesn’t derive from the game. In 1960, brothers Tom and James Monaghan purchased an old pizza restaurant called DomiNick’s in Ypsilanti, Michigan. However, some drama ensued and the original owner bought the company back—but not without a change of name. Allegedly, delivery driver Jim Kennedy helped him alter the name to simply “Domino’s” in 1965. We’re thinking they wanted it to be similar, but not similar enough.
In 1965, two friends Frank DeLuca and Peter Buck decided to open their own sub shop called Pete’s Super Submarines in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It got a bit wordy a few years later, so they shortened it to just “Pete’s Subway.” And in 1974, they shortened it again to simply “Subway” after franchising the business. Pete’s Super Submarines is a bit of a tongue twister, anyway!
Did you have any idea how these fast food joints got their name? Which restaurant on this list is your favorite?