Mar 13, 2017

The Homoerotic Hamburgers of the 1970s

When I was a kid in the 1960s, we had three fast-food burger joints: Henry's, Sandy's (where cute college boys in kilts sold Edin-burgers), and A&W (where my boyfriend Bill and I became a Mama and a Papa).  Then, during the 1970s, they all closed or got bought out during the invasion of national franchises: McDonald's, Hardees, Wendy's and Burger King.

The raucous, competing ads about sizes and shapes often became nearly as homoerotic as hot dog ads.

1. Burger King had the worst burgers -- horrible things -- but the most homoerotic ads.  It introduced the Whopper in 1957, but stepped up the ads in the early 1970s, calling the restaurant "Home of the Whopper" and annoucing "It takes two hands to handle a Whopper."

Soon the slogans began to appear on t-shirts, on underwear, and in sleazy comments made by sex-obsessed men in sitcoms (and in 1970s sitcoms, nearly all men were sex-obsessed).

2. McDonald's had a similar "Big Mac," which also began to appear on t-shirts and underwear, while teenage spokespersons pretended not to notice.

3. Wendy's was rather colorless in the 1970s, with pictures of a redheaded girl eating the square burgers.  They didn't hit homoerotic paydirt until their "Where's the beef?" campaign of the 1980s.

4. Fortunately, I wasn't living in southern California, where Carl Jr's had some extremely embarassing ads that showed underwear-clad women gazing at a burger with erotic intensity, like they intended to have sex with it, with captions: "Size does matter." By the time I got to West Hollywood in 1985, they had switched to Big Carl, a homicidal maniac who ordered us to eat his burgers, or "I will hunt you down like a dog."

5.  We didn't have Jack in the Box, either, so we never saw the ads starring the tiny tot Rodney Allen Rippy (top photo, with bodybuilders Ric Drasin and Don Peters demonstrating his size).  His commercials had him trying to get his hands around a Jumbo Jack, and complaining, "It's too big to eat."  Let the dirty jokes begin.

One of several cute, diminuitive black kids who charmed America during the period (others were Gary Coleman and Emmanuel Lewis), Rodney Allen Rippy became a sensation, appearing everywhere, on The Tonight Show, The Odd Couple, Marcus Welby, Medical Center, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Laugh-In.

As long as he was a cute kid.  Rodney retired in adolescence, got a degree from Cal State Northridge, and today is involved in writing, production, and marketing. In 2012 he ran for mayor of Compton, California, but dropped out after getting only 75 votes in the primary.  He intends to run again in 2017

He's never married, but according to his Facebook page, he likes women.

See also: Have you had a Squirt today?

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