Obituary: James McLamore

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The Independent Online
James McLamore was the co-founder of the Burger King chain of fast-food restaurants and architect of the hamburger known as the Whopper. He helped to alter America's, and later the world's, eating habits, with quick service and cheap hamburgers.

In 1954 McLamore and his co-founder Dave Edgerton opened the first Insta Burger King in Miami, which featured the pioneering "flame-grilled" system of chain broiler cooking. The Whopper and the Whopper with Cheese, which are now consumed at the rate of 2 million a day, were introduced by McLamore in 1957, the same year that Insta was dropped from the name. A year later television advertising and early franchising pushed the company on to a national stage.

"There are only two things our customers have: time and money, and they don't like spending either of them, so we better sell them hamburgers quickly," McLamore said in 1994, explaining how Burger King's 15-second service philosophy had grown into the second largest hamburger chain in the world, with more than 7,200 restaurants.

A former chief executive of Burger King, Barry Gibbons praised him for developing a "very, very early and clear concept of branding even before it was sophisticated and designed as such".

McLamore was ranked with McDonalds' Ray Kroc and Kentucky Fried Chicken's Harlan Sanders as leaders in the fast-food industry. He and Edgerton sold the business to Pillsbury in 1967, now part of Grand Metropolitan. McLamore served as Burger King's president until 1970 and as Chief Executive Officer until 1972. In 1993, he was drafted back in to help reinvigorate the company, which had suffered a bewildering diversification of products.

McLamore was a benefactor and trustee of Miami University, at one time part-owner of the Miami Dolphins American football team and, as an avid gardener, served as president of Fairchild Tropical Gardens.

Edward Helmore

James Whitman McLamore, businessman: born New York City 30 May 1926; married (one son, three daughters); died Coral Gables, Florida 7 August 1996.