Travel Mystery – Why Australia Will Never Have Burger King

Hungry Jacks

I love bizarre societal quirks. Little details that many may miss and travel guides never address. I was confronted with one such oddity on a recent trip to Australia. I noticed a lot of restaurants that looked like Burger King, they even had a similar menu; but they weren’t Burger King. That began a quest to learn the story behind Hungry Jack’s.

Every where I have been I’ve noticed a lot of Western chains. KFC is the most popular, followed by McDonalds, Pizza Hut and usually Burger King. When I was in Australia I saw the first three, but not the fourth. But we did keep seeing Hungry Jack’s, which for all intents and purposes looked just like Burger King. It demanded further investigation.

In the 1970s, Australian fast food giant Jack Cowin wanted to introduce Burger King to Australia. The problem was that the name had already been trademarked by a takeaway food shop in Adelaide. Unable to brand the new restaurants as Burger King, Cowin reviewed pre-existing trademarks already registered by Burger King and eventually decided on Hungry Jack, which was actually one of Pillsbury’s US pancake mixture products. Cowin added “’s” and Hungry Jacks’s was born.

The first Burger King/Hungry Jack’s in Australia opened in Perth in 1971, and has since expanded to more than 300 locations across Australia.

Thus was solved the mystery of Hungry Jack’s and the lack of Burger King restaurants in Australia.

What are some fun oddities you’ve found on your travels?

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

33 thoughts on “Travel Mystery – Why Australia Will Never Have Burger King”

  1. It’s kind of funny because we did have a few Burger Kings in Australia in the late 90s but then they got replaced by Hungry Jack’s, like the rest of them. Maybe the Aussies felt too connected to the oddity by then to give up on it…

    1. Actually, it’s because of a dispute between BK and the franchise owner. The trademark expired at that time and BK took the opportunity to lash out at the owner by opening their own restaurants. There was a lawsuit, BK lost and eventually they entered into a new agreement and it all reverted to Hungry Jack’s. Just file that under “who knew?” :)

  2. The last time I was in Perth they still have Burger Kings. Thanks for shedding some light on the Hungry Jacks situation.

  3. Whew, so relived- can I get a whopper there? We’ve got a few KFC’s in Chiang Mai but my favorite one is a street stall called KFG. His chicken looks awesome.

    1. hungry jacks meat patties seem a lot thinner than burger king NZ. taste more BBQ flame grill in NZ n the states.

  4. wow that’s pretty interesting. A travely quirk I never really thought about! I love have the background story when I see stuff like that!

  5. Haha I never knew the reason why we had Hungry Jack’s in Australia – thanks!

    At one stage they did try rebranding a number of Hungry Jack’s to Burger King but I have noticed that they’ve all reverted back to Hungry Jack’s branding now. :)

  6. We saw Duffin Dagels donut shop in Spain with all the colors and styles of Dunkin Donuts. IN Germany, Subway has now become Mr Sub in a lot of places. To the point that the posters aren’t even different, just a different logo sticker over top of the old one.

  7. Actually, in Adelaide we did have Burger King in the 60’s (I still remember the ‘foot long’ hot dogs). IIRC the Anzac Highway Burger King was renovated/rebuilt and became the first Adelaide Hungry Jacks.

  8. I would love to know why the Burger King trademark in Adelaide expired / lapsed? I mean the trade mark would have been worth millions to sell it to Burger King themselves surely?

    1. they can’t because big companies will make law suite against you eventually you will loose the case its not like internet domain. when you filed opposition it will escalate further to the court.

  9. The first Burger King in Adelaide and maybe Australia was on Anzac Highway in about 1962. It became Hungry Jacks a couple of years later.

  10. Atlanta man with Aussie wife started a copy of Burger King in 1962 sold out to Burger King US in 1972 moved back to Atlanta

  11. I remember a Burger King (or a name slightly similar) on Rundle Mall in Adelaide, SA, in 1984-85. North of the “balls”…it has been awhile, though. My memory might be failing me ;)

  12. Actually australia did have burger king for awhile in the early 2000’s but had to later change it to hungry jacks. They still have some items that are typical for a burger king to have.

  13. I was a US Marine and went to Australia many times and was told Burger King was a royalty thing

  14. I lived in Glenelg ( near Adelaide ) in the 1960’s and my brother and I were often taken to the original Burger King in Jetty Street by my parents – they used to do the most tasty burger I have ever had – it was called a Sizzling Steak Burger and was thin strips of steak in a bbq sauce. Your article brought back fond memories.

  15. I know for a fact that in the early 2000’s, Bathurst still had a Burger King and I fondly remember getting food while in the area

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