CHICAGO (CBS) — Well, that’s not accurate. The more popular Burger King, home of the Whopper, isn’t allowed within a 20 mile radius of Mattoon, Illinois.
Because of Gene and Betty Hoots’ Burger King, opened up behind their ice cream shop Frigid Queen (get it, Burger KING and Frigid QUEEN) in 1957. They went on to register the “Burger King” name as a state trademark in Illinois a couple years later.
Burger King, that is, the giant fast good corporation, didn’t take the name Burger King until after 1954. More importantly, they didn’t have a restaurant in Illinois until 1961. By 1967, there were nearly 50 Burger Kings in Illinois. This is when the Hoots started to worry.
Burger King of Florida, Inc. v. Hoots (1968) was the name of the lawsuit the Hoots filed against the giant fast food chain. You may remember it? It was very popular. No?
Anyway! The Hoots were severely outgunned. Their one local lawyer didn’t exactly stand a chance against the legal team of six lawyers hired by Burger King. Still! The case wasn’t a total loss for them. The court ended up ruling that federal trademark registration had priority over state law, and that the Burger King started in Florida (the giant chain) had rights to the “Burger King” name in pretty much the entire country.
Except in Mattoon, Illinois. Since the family had prior actual use there, they retained the name for the Mattoon area.
So next time you’re in Mattoon and you are desperately craving a Whopper, you might need to drive an extra 20 miles.
Or, you know, go check out Frigid Queen and Burger King instead. Something tells me that’d make for a much better experience.