Hungry Jacks vs Burger King, which one is better? Are they the same? And if so, why is Burger King called Hungry Jacks in Australia? You can also say Hungry Jack’s if you are a grammar nazi!
So many questions right? Well, let me set the scene. On a recent trip to Sydney I noticed a fast food joint at the airport called “Hungry Jacks”, I like fast food and was excited to try a “real” Aussie burger. I dutifully followed the airborne Aussies to see what all the fuss was about. On entrance to this brave new world, I was greeted by what could only be described as either the worlds best rip-off, some negligent operation, or the ACTUAL Burger King menu? On further exploration an Aussie friend told me “that’s what we call Burger King in Australia”. Now this is not unheard of, in the Philippines Fanta and Royal, are one and the same for example, but I was sure I had seen an ACTUAL BK in Australia. Clearly further investigation was required.
When Burger King first arrived in Australia to fight a burger war with Ronald McDonald there was already a fast food restaurant in Adelaide that held the trademark for Burger King. Amusingly they refused to give it up, much like McDonald’s in the Cayman Islands. Luckily Burger King had a shed ton of trademarked names they held in case of emergencies, and let the Australian franchisee Jack Crown decide. He chose Hungry Jacks, and they all lived happily ever after. Not quite.
Hungry Jacks vs Burger King War 1996 – 2001
Also known as the Burger King vs Hungry Jacks wars, depending on your allegiance! The war may not have involved airborne Aussies, or pounded bays, but Australia was about to embark on the bitterest of junk food wars since the death of Classic Coke. Shit was about to get real. In 1991 Hungry Jacks renewed its franchise agreement with Burger King, and thus expected things to plod on as normal, but despite Burger King trying to pitch themselves as the plucky underdog to McDonald’s, it turns out they are also corporate assholes. In 1996 the “Burger King” trademark in Australia lapsed, Burger King (not Hungry Jacks) brought it, complained that Hungry Jacks hadn’t expanded quickly enough, and in conjunction with other corporate dicks Shell started opening stores called Burger King. This as you might imagine slightly pissed off the Hungry Jacks guys. Hungry Jacks vs Burger King was now very much a thing.
Incidentally Burger King is in Cambodia, but McDonalds is not – you can read why here.
For the next 5 years, Burger King kept opening new locations, whilst not allowing genuine plucky underdog of Hungry Jacks the ability to do the same. The hero of our story Jack Cowin of Hungry Jacks took legal action against corporate America and won almost $50 million (AUD).
After losing Burger King acted like babies, gave away the franchise rights to some Kiwis, and sulked for the next two years until in 2003 when peace was finally restored to the burger universe.
Nowadays you will see both Burger King, and Hungry Jacks throughout the country, both administered by the same company, but with Hungry Jack being an ever-present reminder that just because you are massive cooperation, you do not always get your own way.
War is never a pretty thing, but at least the underdog got to win this time. Nowadays the unified Burger King/Hungry Jacks empire are back fighting the good fight with McDonalds over whether Australians should go on a post drink quarter pounder raid, or belt back a Whopper.
Which is better then? Hungry Jacks’s or Burger King?
This is a subject that many Australians will happily go on about. Some state that Hungry Jacks was a better product than Burger King. Whether this is true, or not is up for debate. Perhaps it is more nationalism than rationalism. Nowadays the reality is that they are both the same product.
The company now turn over a billion dollars a year in Australia – and that is the Hungry Jacks vs Burger King story. In the end it was all about the dollars, after all a Whopper is a Whopper, even at Hungry Jacks.