Playing with Your Food: Fast Food Videogames

There are many strange subgenres in the increasingly vast world of videogames. One of the strangest -- and oldest -- has to be the fast food video game. Usually a marketing tie-in, these games are rarely popular or fun, but the burger congloms, ever in a frenzy to reach their target market (a demographic who also happens to like videogames), they keep making them. Here are some of our fast food faves.


Unlike most titles on this list, this game is a genuine classic. Popular in arcades when it was first introduced in 1982, Burgertime quickly emigrated from Japan to the US and from arcades to home consoles. The player controls a chef, Peter Pepper, who must construct a burger while avoiding his three mortal enemies, Mister Pickle, Mister Egg and Mr. Hot Dog. (Some people like pickles and eggs on burgers, so I'm not sure what the animosity here is all about.) In terms of gameplay, Burgertime is clearly a close relative of Donkey Kong, but its sequels didn't do nearly as well: most people have played Donkey Kong Jr. and the ubiquitous Mario games, but Burgertime follow-up Peter Pepper's Ice Cream Factory didn't exactly catch on. Here's a nostalgia-inducing (for some) commercial from the 80s for Burgertime:


Perhaps trying to capture some of Burgertime's magic, the 1993 Nintendo game McKids was a poorly-conceived entry into the game market and yet another Super Mario Brothers 3 rip-off. You play a kid who's entered into the magic McDonald's fantasy world in a quest to retrieve Ronald's magic bag, which was stolen by the Hamburglar. McDonald's reportedly wasn't happy with the game, and dampened their own sales by refusing to market the game properly.

Fast Food

Another vintage food game, Fast Food was released in 1982 for the Atari 2600. You control a pair of disembodied lips which move frantically around the screen trying to consume as much flying fast food as possible. The objective is to get fat, but if you eat too many rotten purple pickles, you barf up all the food you've eaten and have to begin again. A truly strange game. Here's a funny review, which includes a NSFW word or two, FYI.

Burger King Games

As part of a recent marketing campaign (which seems to revolve around their company's mascot being strange and creepy), Burger King released several small-scale videogames featuring The King. You play The King, who beams down into the world in order to feed hungry people -- not starving orphans in Micronesia, but already-plump Westerners with insatiable cravings for fried meat. And you do it with a kind of burger-tastic Jujitsu. I don't know if they sold any more hamburgers for having made this game, but it's definitely entertaining.

Ronald McDonald, Street Fighter

I can't quite figure out what this is, but I do know one thing: it's wonderful. It appears to be some kind of Japanese game hack, using definitely-not-licensed characters like Homer Simpson, Ronald McDonald and KFC's Colonel in a Street Fighter kind of milieu. Fast-paced, violent, and full of nonsense pop culture references. Genius!

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25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]


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