The Cooking Device Burger King Was Originally Built Around

Burger King is a franchise that has been selling hamburgers and shakes for nearly 70 years now, per The Motley Fool. At the center of its origins, though, is a device that has been mostly forgotten by time in the passing decades.

To talk about the beginning of Burger King, you have to start with its greatest rival and inspiration, McDonald's. According to Marketing Dive, McDonald's came on the scene in 1940 and, in 1948, would lay the groundwork for modern American fast food. The restaurant's Speedee Service System showed that it could amass an impressive profit by turning out huge numbers of hamburgers with a limited menu. This model was copied by Burger King's founders, Keith J. Kramer and Matthew Burns. It was even detailed in some of their early advertising material to potential franchisees (via The Burger King Book).

These materials also detailed Burger King's supposed secret weapon: The Insta-Broiler. The restaurant's original concept was built around this machine and even inspired its original name of the Insta-Burger King. The Burger King Book explains that the Insta-Broiler was a device that would cook burgers on both sides simultaneously while also toasting the buns. It operated through radiant heat and could allegedly turn out more than 400 burgers per hour. It also came as an efficient package with the Insta-Shake Machine. 

The Insta-Broiler would inspire Burger King's future

So, whatever happened to Burger King's Insta-Broiler? As much as it was an innovative product, it came with its fair share of challenges. Marketing Dive states that In 1959, the company was purchased by franchisees James McLamore and David Edgerton. McLamore explains in his book, The Burger King: A Whopper of a Story on Life and Leadership, that the Insta-Broiler was as temperamental as it was productive. While attempting to repair the unstable machine one morning, Edgerton reached his limits and took a hatchet to it. Luckily, there was a spare to continue operations. But in his anger, Edgerton vowed to develop a better way to cook burgers.

As The Motley Fool reports, Edgerton would succeed in doing so by creating the Flame-Broiler. This allowed patties to be cooked over open flames instead of on griddles like their competitors. It gave the flavor of what would become Burger King's signature quality for its sandwiches and was also made the centerpiece of the company's marketing for decades to come.

Burger King may no longer rely on the Insta-Broiler for its speedy production, but certainly, it wouldn't be the restaurant it is today without it.