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January 7, 2023

Wendy Thomas, the Original Wendy’s Girl, 1966

Wendy’s is one of the biggest fast-food chains in the county, but if its founder Dave Thomas had named it a few years later, the restaurant might have been called something totally different.


Before he passed away in 2002, Thomas admitted something pretty surprising to his daughter Wendy: He regretted naming the burger chain after her. “He wanted a character, because he worked for the Colonel at Kentucky Fried Chicken and knew how much that persona mattered,” Wendy Thomas explained. “He said, ‘Wendy, pull your hair up in pigtails.’ So, I did. He got his camera and took pictures of me and my sister and said, ‘Yep, it’s going to be Wendy’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers.’” But as time went on, Thomas realized that having his daughter as the namesake for his ultra-popular restaurant might not have been the best idea.

“Before my dad left us, we had a long conversation about him naming the restaurant Wendy’s. It was the first time we’d ever had this conversation,” Thomas said. “He said, ‘You know what? I’m sorry.’ I asked him what he meant. He explained, ‘I should’ve just named it after myself, because it put a lot of pressure on you.’” Though she might have been surprised by her father’s revelation, the brand’s namesake said she agreed that it put a lot of pressure on her. However, she wouldn’t have had it any other way today.





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