TV is packed with fast food commercials featuring beloved mascots, catchy jingles, and a lot of high-touch shots of burgers, pizzas, and tacos.
But some vintage fast-food chain ads from the 1960s through the 2000s rise above the rest to become advertising icons. Sites like Foodbeast and Eat This, Not That have gathered a few favorites from over the years.
Here are a few of the best, classic fast-food commercials to hit TV over the last 50 years.
McDonald’s: Ronald McDonald’s first appearance
Ronald McDonald might be the most recognizable character in fast food lore, but his appearance morphed over the years. Thankfully, he no longer looks like this early version from 1963, where he appears with a “magic tray” of infinite burgers and a hat stacked with other assorted items.
Wendy’s: Where’s the beef?
If some of the other chains have more iconic characters, Wendy’s lays claim to one of the more famous taglines from fast food history: “Where’s the beef?” First exclaimed by three grouchy old ladies in this 1984 ad in response to a pitiful burger from a competitor, the phrase spread across ‘80s culture.
Taco Bell: Yo quiero Taco Bell
Whereas Ronald stumbled out of the gate in the ‘60s, the Taco Bell chihuahua hit the ground running, literally, in this 1997 debut for the canine star. The advertisement came as a shot across the bows of several other chains engaged in the 1990s “burger wars” at the time.
Dunkin’ Donuts: Time to make the donuts
Dunkin’s lovable, exhausted “Fred the baker” was the star of several commercials in the 1980s, repeating ad nauseum his catchphrase “time to make the donuts.” In this version, he encounters another version of himself, a feeling familiar to any TV watcher in the ‘80s who caught the ads again and again.
Burger King: Have it your way
Another fast food commercial, another jingle. This 1974 ad featured Burger King’s flexible service, customized to every customer’s liking, all wrapped up in a catchy tune, only somewhat oversung by a belting cashier.
Domino’s Pizza: Avoid the noid
It’s unclear which is more annoying: a delivery pizza getting cold or the noid character created by Domino’s to represent that. The noid spawned a TV cartoon and a computer game, and then thankfully disappeared.
In-N-Out: A classic jingle
There are plenty of reasons for west coasters to brag about In-N-Out, but the chain’s classic jingle rarely makes it into the conversation. This commercial from the ‘80s includes a longer version, including very Wings-like harmonies and backup instrumentals.
Pizza Hut: The original pizza commercial
This probably isn’t what you were imaging when you think of the first Pizza Hut commercial, but the zany, fast-mo 1965 ad actually provides something a bit different from the rest of the ads on this list.
Subway: Five dollar footlong
The Subway jingle promoting their price special in 2008 became an instant modern classic to rival the classic songs of the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. It was so effective, the chain had trouble phasing out what was meant to be a temporary promotion. The song remains an enduring high note in 21st century advertising.