The King Is Dead: Burger King Trades in Royalty for A Healthier Image

The V for Vendetta-esque scary-smile masked king that’s come to represent fast food chain Burger King has officially retired, according to a statement issued by the company last week. The decision comes in an effort to put more focus on a new line of healthier items leading the fall menu lineup.

Edging out commercial airtime for its signature Whopper, Burger King will begin to promote its new “California Whopper” topped with fresh guacamole and nearly 100 fewer calories than the original (670 calories). The move towards healthier options and the shift in marketing comes as sales have been lagging behind McDonald’s, BK’s biggest competitor with a full line of purported healthy menu choices.

Instead of the Burger King king strutting around triple bacon cheeseburgers, the new commercials border on food porn: Swirling chunks of avocado, ripe and juicy tomatoes being sliced in mid-air and every insinuation that the food is far more tasty than it is healthy, although the underlying healthy freshness message is not lost. As always, there’s a highlight about flame grilling as a healthy alternative to the fried competition.

With increasing emphasis on healthy food a priority in our nation’s schools and homes, Americans can expect to see more fast food restaurants feature healthier fare. But buyer beware: It’s a fine line for any fast food item to call itself “healthy,” especially when nearly 80 percent of all fast/processed food in the U.S. contains genetically modified ingredients — from GM soy and corn fed to livestock to the ubiquitous presence of GMO high fructose corn syrup and canola oil found in items including ketchup and salad dressing. Expert Carlos Monteiro of the Centre for Epidemiological Studies in Health and Nutrition at the University of Sao Paolo states in a recent report that no ultra-processed foods are healthy. “Ultra-processed products able to make health claims are increasingly touted as part of the global public health solution. They are not. They are a large part of the global public health problem, and such products that make health claims may well make the problem worse. “

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Photo: Burger King