Hungry Jacks vs Burger King – The Burger Wars of 1996-2001

Hungry Jacks vs Burger King

Hungry Jacks vs Burger King, are they the same, which one is better AND if they are actually the same why are there both Hungry Jacks AND Burger King in Australia? The actual answer to these questions is one of intrigue, legal action and the closest a fast food war has come to real war since Pepsi had the 7th largest navy in the world (a whole other story).

So, to set the scene a little here, I was recently passing through Sydney when I noticed a “new” burger restaurant I hade ver scene, Henry Jack’s. On closer inspection though I discovered it looked and tasted just like a Burger King to such a degree it could not simply be a rip-off.

An Aussie friend then nonchalantly informed me “its is just what we call Burger King in Australia”. Now this is not that uncommon with Fanta being called Royal in the Philippines, but then I learnt that Burger King also existed within the country. Now I had to investigate.

To read about the best burger in Phnom Penh click here.

Burger King enters Australia

Our story takes us back to the 1960’s when McDonald’s were trying their best to take over not just the country, but the world. For their part KFC and Burger King were trying to enter markets before the big clown could dominate.

This led to Burger King coming to Australia through Australian franchisee Jack Crown, who had previously and successfully introduced KFC to the antipodean nation. The only problem was that there was already and Adelaide restaurant by the name of Burger King and long story short they did not want to give up said name, much like McDonalds in the Cayman Islands.

Have no fear though for Burger Kind being the huge corporation that they were happened to have shoe bunch of spare names they had trademarked for a rainy day, with Hungry Jacks being one of them. Thus Burger King entered Australia as Hungry Jacks and they did pretty damned well, in fact so well that they were about to spark a very bitter burger war.

Hungry Jacks vs Burger King the Great Burger war 1996-2001

Also known as the Burger King vs Hungry Jack war, depending on which side you rooted for. And while said conflict did not involve Airborne Aussies, or draw in the Pepsi Navy, it was bitterest corporate junk food war since Pepsi took on Classic Coke and almost won….

It all started in 1991 when Hungry Jacks renewed their trademark and license agreement and thus thought that things would just go on as normal. In 1996 the Burger King trademark lapsed in Australia and this was duly purchased by Burger King International, rather than Hungry Jacks Australia.

Burger King would then go on to prove that they were not the plucky outsider against McDonald’s that they claim to be, but were in fact equally big cooperate douchbags. With Australis being one of the biggest markets for Burger King they thus saw an opportunity and offered to buy out all of the Hungry Jacks and Jacob Crown and his boys could take a step back. They said no and thus the wars were about to begin.

At first Burger King started trying to change the rules of the game stating that Hungry Jacks were not opening enough restaurants and when this failed they teamed up with other corporate assholes Shell and began opening restaurants called Burger King in Australia.

This meant that you had a Hungry Jacks vs Burger Battle Royals, that saw two companies for all intents under the same umbrella and selling the same product battling it out.

Peace in our time and and end to the Hungry Jacks vs Burger King War

In 2001 Hungry Jacks took Burger King to court who ruled in their favour and stated that Burger King had breached their contract. The later duly ran with their tail between their legs back to the United States, while Hungry Jacks were also awarded $46 million (AUD).

Nowadays both coexist peacefully with Hungry Jacks being an Australian owned company that works with and under Burger King. Hungry Jacks are also an omnipresent symbol that even if you are a big multinational company you cannot get it all your own way, sometimes the little guy can win.

So, which is better Hungry Jacks, or Burger King?

This is a subject that Australians will regularly debate. In my experience traveling Aussie’s will often pine for Hungry Jacks whilst stating that Burger King is not the same.

Whether this is true or not is obviously up for debate as is whether it is rationalism or nationalism that has led them to this conclusion, I for one enjoyed my Hungry Jack’s when I led our Least Visited Tour, although I did not have a BK to compare it too.

Overall though Hungry Jacks now manage to turnover more than a billion dollars a year in Australia meaning that were one to ask if a rose would smell less sweet if it had another name, the answer would be a resounding no.