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Burger King co-founder David Edgerton dies at 90

Pioneer started “Home of the Whopper” in Miami

David Edgerton, co-founder of Burger King, died earlier this month in Miami. He was 90.

Edgerton died April 3 of surgery complications after a fall, his friend and accountant Betty Amos Righetti told The New York Times.  

Edgerton started what would become the world’s second largest burger chain after acquiring Insta-Burger King, a 15-cent hamburger concept, in March 1954. He was a contemporary of Ray Kroc, who in 1955 on the West Coast founded McDonald’s System Inc., a predecessor of the McDonald’s Corp. and the world’s largest burger brand. 

Edgerton started his Burger King with $12,000 after managing Howard Johnson’s restaurants in Florida. He told The New York Times in a 2014 interview that he had been preparing to open a Dairy Queen in Jacksonville, Fla., but changed his mind and acquired Insta-Burger King with local restaurateur James McLamore.

Edgerton worked with a mechanic to produce the continuous-chain broiler that become a signature part of Burger King’s “flame-broiled” marketing.

The two burger pioneers disputed which of them came up with name “Whopper” for the chain’s signature sandwich, according to The New York Times.

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In 1967, Burger King sold to the Pillsbury Co. when it had several hundred units. The company later changed hands through British firms Grand Metropolitan and Diageo and then TPG Capital L.P. In September 2010, private-equity firm 3G Capital agreed to acquire Burger King Holding Inc. in a deal valued at $4 billion. 

With the acquisition of Tim Horton’s, the parent company changed its name to Restaurant Brands International Inc. and eventually consolidated headquarters in Oakville, Ontario. RBI purchased Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc. in March 2017 for $1.8 billion. 

RBI now has more than $30 billion in systemwide sales at 24,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries and U.S. territories.

Edgerton later the Bodega Steak restaurant chain, which he sold in 1978. In 1993, he bought a minority interest in three Fuddruckers restaurants.

Edgerton, who was born May 26, 1927, in Lebanon, Pa., leaves no immediate survivors. His parents and only sibling, Jane Edgerton Johnson, preceded him in death. He spent his final years in a Miami retirement community in the Cutler Bay suburb of Miami, The New York Times reported. 

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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