Troy’s Top 10 Fictional Fast Food Restaurants
When a movie or television show wants to set one of their scenes at a fast food restaurant they have two choices: arrange a shoot with an established fast food chain and possibly work out some product placement advertising, or create their own, fictional fast food joint. The problem with the first option is that a company like McDonald’s would want complete control over the setting, and they’d need to approve the scene to ensure their brand is presented in a positive light (not to mention they would likely want some financial compensation or at least endorsements). Sometimes it is easier to just create a fictional fast food restaurant. That allows the creators complete freedom to make the restaurant, and its employees, as perfect or as nefarious as they need to complete the story.
There have been hundreds of fictional fast food restaurants created for the big and small screens over the years. I have taken the time to whittle that list down to my 10 personal favorites:
10. Chokey Chicken (Rocko’s Modern Life)
Chokey Chicken was a staple restaurant for the residents of O-Town. Rocko, Heffer, and the rest of the gang were frequent patrons of the KFC parody restaurant. Like most of Rocko’s Modern Life, Chokey Chicken was basically a thinly veiled sexual reference and was later renamed “Chewy Chicken” to tone down the suggestion. Chokey Chicken’s inclusion on this list is as much a nod to Rocko’s Modern Life’s bold absurdity as it is to the restaurant itself, which probably boasts some pretty darn good chicken.
9. Mooby’s (Clerks 2 & Other Kevin Smith Films)
Mooby’s is a fast food burger spot that has appeared in several of Kevin Smith’s cult classics. The restaurant’s biggest role was in Clerks 2 when Dante and Randal score jobs at a Mooby’s. The theme of Mooby’s is based off their mascot: Mooby the Golden Calf (an ode to the false idol tale from the Bible). Some of the items on Mooby’s menu include Sweet & Sour Surly Bits, the Mega Mooby Burger, and a Pate Pop made of “Top Quality Monkey Pate”.
8. Cluckin’ Bell (Grand Theft Auto)
Cluckin’ Bell is a fast food chain featured throughout much of the Grand Theft Auto series. The menu is introduced in GTA San Andreas and offers three versions of the Cluckin’ Meal (little, big, or huge) and a Salad Meal “For those who like to stay real small!” One of the commercials in the game claims that Cluckin’ Bell breeds their chickens with “Six wings, forty breasts” before they kill them using gas. The bizarreness of the company continues on their website, especially with the song and the Legal/Disclaimer section. What you get from Cluckin’ Bell is a big corporation that’s brutally honest about how cutthroat capitalism gets; it’s satire through and through here folks.
For a walkthrough of a Cluckin’ Bell in-game, check out this video.
7. Krusty Krab (SpongeBob SquarePants)
The most popular restaurant under the sea, the Krusty Krab is the centerpiece of one of the most successful children’s cartoons of the past 15 years. Each famous Krabby Patty is made with unmatched obsession by the show’s title character, SpongeBob Squarepants. The rest of the restaurant is manned by a depressed cashier, Squidward, and a money-grubbing cheapskate owner, Mr. Krabs, who probably best represents the fast food workforce we see in our every day life.
6. McDowell’s (Coming to America)
Appearing in the 1988 film Coming to America, McDowell’s is easily the most transparent parody on this list. That fact is embraced by the plot, where the McDonald’s Corporation is actually investigating the franchise for copyright infringement throughout the film. The constant comparisons can be seen at almost every turn. There is the battle of the “Big Mac” vs. the “Big Mic” (the “Big Mic” has no seeds on its bun) and the slight difference between McDonald’s “Golden Arches” and McDowell’s “Golden Arcs”. Real fast food chains often try to model their brand after the most popular fast food company in the world, but none have done it with the bold conviction of McDowell’s.
5. Good Burger (All That & Good Burger)
If you grew up in the 1990’s you were more than likely familiar with the show All That, which was a sketch comedy show that can be summed up as Saturday Night Live for kids. Arguably the most famous sketches in all 10 seasons of the show were those that occurred at Good Burger. Originally starring Kel Mitchell as Ed, a dim-witted cashier, Good Burger was so popular that in 1997 it was spun-off into a movie and Kenan Thompson was brought aboard. The service at Good Burger always left a lot to be desired, but there was an odd charm to the fun-loving crew, and the Good Burger movie is even available on Netflix.
4. Krusty Burger (The Simpsons)
Krusty Burger sits on this list with a bit of an asterisk. Universal Studios in Orlando opened a Krusty Burger restaurant in The Simpsons portion of their park, but I’m going to ignore that because having to pay $80 to get access to Krusty Burger makes it a tourist attraction and not a “real” fast food restaurant (in my eyes at least). Krusty Burger embraced the fast food stereotype of being an unhealthy choice for meals, even earning the “honor” of “unhealthiest restaurant in the world.” Some of the items that helped earn that place amongst unhealthy kings are “The Clogger”, “Mad Cow Burger”, “Super-Choker Burritos”, and the “Whatchamacarcass Sandwich”.
3. Big Kahuna Burger (Pulp Fiction & Other Quentin Tarantino Films)
After taking his first bite of a Big Kahuna Burger in Pulp Fiction, Jules Winnfield (played by Samuel L. Jackson) exclaimed “Mmhmm, this is a tasty burger!” If the burgers are good enough for Samuel L. Jackson then they are good enough for me. I’m not sure how many times I would actually visit a Hawaiian-themed fast food restaurant, but the Big Kahuna Burger brand was strong enough to make its way into Death Proof, Four Rooms, Reservoir Dogs, and the non-Tarantino classic The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D (maybe classic is a bit strong for that last film). Regardless, Big Kahuna Burger is definitely a big kahuna in the fictional fast food game.
2. Bob’s Burgers (Bob’s Burgers)
The newest restaurant on this list, Bob’s Burgers premiered in 2011 and introduced us to the Belcher family, parents Bob and Linda and children Tina, Gene, and Louise. Bob’s Burgers is a “mom and pop” style restaurant with the only employees being the family members themselves. Unlike some of the restaurants on this list, Bob’s Burgers puts its focus on premium ingredients and product creativity, not mass production. Fans of the show pay extra attention to the “Burger of the Day” sign in the restaurant where the writers create a unique burger pun for each day the show takes place (similar to the couch scene in the opening of The Simpsons). Some of my personal favorites include the “Use It or Bleus It Burger” (comes with bleu cheese), the “Foot Feta-ish Burger” (comes with feta cheese), and the “She’s a Super Leek Burger” (comes with braised leeks). Bob’s Burger of the Day has become so popular it even has its own Tumblr.
1. Los Pollos Hermanos (Breaking Bad)
Nothing goes with fried chicken like a little crystal meth…and if you want to pick up your delicious chicken and the finest meth in one place you aren’t going to do any better than Los Pollos Hermanos! On Breaking Bad, Los Pollos Hermanos was the drug front for the largest crystal meth ring in the Southwestern United States. Not only did this restaurant play a vital role in one of the biggest shows of all-time, but it also brought about one of my favorite TV villains: Gustavo Fring. The beauty of Fring’s businesses was that he took just as much pride in his chicken as he did his meth. By cooking top-tier chicken, providing top-tier service, and running two parallel businesses with the utmost professionalism, Gustavo Fring made a name for himself. Mainly because it can boast the charm of being run by a drug king-pin, Los Pollos Hermanos is an easy pick for the #1 spot!