How many times have you unwrapped a fast-food burger and noticed that it bears little resemblance to what’s shown in advertisements?
Consumers suing Miami-based Burger King Corporation share your frustration.
The suit claims that meats shown in Burger King’s advertisements and menu illustrations are deceptively larger that what consumers actually get.
When unwrapped, Whoppers are actually wimpy and Big Kings aren’t so regal, it says.
“Burger King materially overstates the size of nearly every menu item in its current advertisements,” claims the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Miami.
The suit seeks damages on behalf of the four plaintiffs and millions of others who it says suffered financial damages when they were deceived by Burger King’s photos into purchasing its comparatively diminutive sandwiches. They also want Burger King to replace the photos with ones showing the products’ actual sizes.
“Burger King advertises its burgers as large burgers compared to competitors and containing oversized meat patties and ingredients that overflow over the bun to make it appear that the burgers are approximately 35% larger in size and contain more than double the meat than the actual burger,” the suit claims.
The consumers said they would not have ordered their Burger King sandwiches if the photos showed the actual size of the products. What they received “is much lower in value than what was promised,” the suit says.
Burger King Corporation declined to comment on the claims, saying through a spokesperson that it “does not comment on pending or potential litigations.”
Nearly all of the Miami-based burger chain’s products are exaggerated in menu illustrations and ads, the suit claims. Those products include all Whopper-branded sandwiches, such as the meatless Impossible Whopper, the Triple Whopper with Cheese, all of the Croissan’wich breakfast sandwiches, the standard hamburger and cheeseburger, and the recently launched Whopper Melts.
A side-by-side comparison shows the chain’s photo of its Big King with two cheese-topped patties extending wider than the bun, piled high with lettuce, onion and pickles. Next to it is the actual Big King, with the meat smaller than the bun and two slices of lettuce poking from the side.
Similar comparisons show beef patties that are much larger in promotional photos of Burger King’s Whopper and newly introduced Whopper Melt than what consumers actually received.
The lawsuit includes complaints posted online by food reviewers and regular consumers. “Yo @BurgerKing,” one Twitter user posted, “why did I just get the #BigKing and this thing looks like the Small Prince? What’s up with that?”
Before September 2017, photos of Burger King’s sandwiches “more fairly advertised the size of the Whopper on its website and store menus,” the suit states. But in more recent years, “the burger increased in size by approximately 35% and the amount of beef increased by more than 100%,” it says, adding that the size and amount of ingredients of the actual Whopper has not increased over that time.
Burger King has previously come under fire for overstating its burger sizes, the lawsuit says. About 12 years ago, the United Kingdom’s advertising regulator ordered the company to stop advertising “overstated burgers” after finding that the thickness and height of its burgers were “considerably less” than advertised.
Four plaintiffs are named in the suit, which seeks class-action status. One is a full-time Florida resident, two are residents of New York state, and another consumer splits time between the two states.
While undoubtedly relatable to consumers, class-action lawsuits against fast-food giants often fail.
In 2020, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based district judge dismissed a suit complaining that the chain’s meatless Impossible Burger was deceptively promoted as vegan but cooked on the same surface as beef patties. The judge found that the chain never claimed the burgers were vegan, and that the plaintiffs failed to ask about the cooking method before ordering.
In 2018, a federal judge in Miami struck down a lawsuit against McDonald’s that claimed it was cheating customers by failing to discount prices of Quarter Pounders ordered without cheese. The judge found that the plaintiffs failed to establish that they were entitled to relief for their “unwanted cheese vexation.”