The Best And Worst Fast Food Super Bowl Commercials Of All Time

No event is more American than the Super Bowl. The extravagant spectacle surrounding the annual NFL championship game represents the apex of U.S. culture, offering an unrivaled viewing experience — whether or not you're concerned with the actual game of football being played. Therein lies the unique beauty of the Super Bowl, though. Because even a person wholly uninterested in the sport itself can find something to enjoy amidst the bevy of live performances, mountains of Super Bowl party foods, and occasionally-cinematic and often star-studded commercials.

Now, considering more than 90 million U.S. viewers have watched the Super Bowl every year since 2006 (via Statista), it's no wonder companies covet commercial time during the game. But that colossal number of built-in, guaranteed viewers means the privilege of airing an advertisement during the Super Bowl isn't cheap, with a 30-second commercial costing as much as $7 million dollars in 2023 (via Ad Age). Still, since a well-done Super Bowl commercial can generate substantial nationwide buzz, the allure is obvious to any company — and fast food restaurants are no exception. In fact, countless commercials, from numerous fast food chains, have aired during the Super Bowl's 57 years (and counting) — far too many to ever consider ranking. So, instead, we focused on the high (and low) points from the fast food industry's big game offerings, and present the best and worst fast food Super Bowl commercials of all time.

Best: Where's the Beef? (Wendy's, 1984)

There are several potential reasons why Wendy's hamburgers are square, rather than the industry-standard circle, but none may top the notion that the unique shape was chosen because the protruding corners display the burger's quality to customers (via CNN). Of course, this could also explain the potential thought process behind the fast food chain's iconic 1984 commercial (aired during Super Bowl XVIII), when an 82-year-old woman named Clara Peller (via Toronto Star) incredulously wondered "Where's the beef?" regarding a generic (non-Wendy's) burger.

Now, it's no mystery why a little old lady cantankerously questioning a burger's beefiness is amusing, but it's not simply a matter of the commercial being entertaining (which it certainly is) that lends credence to its standing as one of the best fast food Super Bowl commercials of all time. After all, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the fallout from a little old lady's query regarding cooked cow protein led to a 51% increase in Wendy's sales in 1985. Frankly, then, it's not merely an all-time classic for Super Bowl advertisements. In fact, there's a strong chance this commercial would rank as one of (if not the absolute) best commercials of all time period — fast food or otherwise.

Worst: Jared's Dream (Subway, 2003)

It was fairly easy slotting this 2003 Subway commercial (which aired during Super Bowl XXXVII, according to Ad Age) as one of the worst advertisements from the big game's history. Because anything to do with the sandwich chain's now-disgraced former spokesman, Jared Fogle, has to be held in consideration for the worst of anything — at least in light of his 2015 conviction for possessing and distributing child pornography, according to The New York Times, among other horrifying transgressions.

To be clear, there's nothing particularly offensive about the ad itself, although it is sort of idiotic. After all, it's not entirely clear why Jared's supposed dream revolved around him discovering a Subway restaurant in his living room. Wasn't his entire celebrity based on the notion of walking to and from Subway to help increase his daily activities? Either way, we'd love to forget this creepy sex offender ever existed, but since we can't erase the countless appearances he made on our television screens during the 2000s, we'll have to be content with bestowing a dishonorable mention for this Subway Super Bowl commercial.

Best: The Showdown (McDonald's, 1993)

Ask basketball fans of a certain age about the state of the basketball in 2023, and you're apt to hear a litany of complaints regarding the sport's downfall over the years. Now, while the notion that a sport (or any activity, really) just "isn't the same anymore" is a fairly common critique, it doesn't mean we should bend entirely towards a recency bias, either. In that vein, it's clear why the 1993 McDonald's Super Bowl commercial starring Larry Bird and Michael Jordan — two of the greatest basketball players of all time — still resonates three decades later.

Debuting during Super Bowl XXVII (via Ad Age), the ad sees Bird and Jordan play a simple game of HORSE for the right to enjoy a Big Mac. The sheer joy of witnessing these two Hall of Famers go shot for shot in a series of increasingly difficult and bizarre turns (with "no dunking," as Bird stipulates at the start) is as exhilarating as it is silly. The fact the commercial aired just six months after the Dream Team (that featured both Jordan and Bird) decimated the competition at the 1992 Summer Olympics likely boosted its stock among U.S. viewers, and undoubtedly helped elevate this commercial into all-time legendary status — just like its two stars.

Worst: It Rocks, It Rocks (Taco Bell, 2010)

For some Super Bowl commercials, the line between good and bad is clear. Sure, extenuating circumstances might push a commercial into terrible territory on occasion. But oftentimes? The worst commercials are just bad in general. So while we look up to Charles Barkley — even if he is "not a role model" — we can't help but describe his appearance in a 2010 Taco Bell commercial (which aired during Super Bowl XLIV) as embarrassingly forgettable.

Why, exactly, anyone thought the mashup of Barkley and Dr. Seuss-style rhyming would be a winner is unclear. But we aren't alone in finding this commercial to be an offensive assault on our eyes, ears, and creative sensibilities. In fact, the ad ranked among the least-successful from that year's game by both The Christian Science Monitor and Time. Of course, while we don't necessarily need a pair of publications to tell us this Taco Bell Super Bowl commercial was a loser, it does bolster our stance. Perhaps the commercial could have been salvaged with a different celebrity behind the rhyme (the rhyme) — but we doubt it.

Best: Eat Like Andy (Burger King, 2019)

Generally speaking, we're decidedly against the notion of using a deceased person to promote an item. There's just something cringe-inducing about a company attempting to resurrect a departed celebrity solely to hawk some product. But Burger King's 2019 commercial featuring Andy Warhol (which aired during Super Bowl LIII, according to Ad Age) is a different animal — namely because it features authentic footage of the legendary artist casually enjoying a Whopper, rather than a doctored, imaginary scene.

The commercial consists of nothing but Warhol as he unwraps, and then consumes, a flame-broiled burger. The avant-garde advertisement – which uses a clip from the 1982 film "66 Scenes From America" by Danish documentarian Jørgen Leth (via Slate) — is unlike anything else we've ever seen during the big game. After all, most Super Bowl commercials tend to prioritize big, bold statements in every imaginable context. Now, whether or not Andy Warhol would have approved of Burger King's decision to use him to sell their signature burger, we can't say, but his unexpected appearance during the 2019 Super Bowl certainly left an indelible impression, and boosts the commercial's stock among all-time entries.

Worst: Elvis Presley Sighting (Pizza Hut, 1998)

At first glance, you may not entirely understand our logic behind penalizing this 1998 Pizza Hut commercial (which aired during Super Bowl XXXII, according to Ad Age) for including a digitally-resurrected Elvis Presley. After all, we just praised Burger King for its decision to utilize footage of Andy Warhol in their 2019 commercial. But there's a marked difference between using a clip of a man actually eating a Whopper to advertise, well, Whoppers, versus the "Forrest Gump"-inspired superimposition of a long-deceased celebrity to sell pizza.

At least Pizza Hut didn't throw caution to the wind and utilize the late King's image without permission, since his estate evidently approved the pizza chain's inclusion (via Sports Business Journal). But the simple fact the man's family signed off on the choice to show Presley dancing at a modern-day Pizza Hut doesn't mean it was the right decision. The bigger issue, though, might be the fact that the commercial just isn't very entertaining. We suppose a brief appearance by a then-unknown, pre-"Freaks and Geeks" James Franco is notable. But it's not nearly enough to overcome the incredibly lame commercial, or its use of a then-novel technology.

Best: Jack vs. Martha (Jack in the Box, 2018)

Is there anything Martha Stewart can't do? The queen of, well, just about everything in modern U.S. culture, Stewart even bounced back from a five-month prison sentence after an insider trading conviction in March 2004 (via CNN). Yet, even before her time in prison, a menacing undercurrent seemed to exist beneath her joyful demeanor — see Ana Gasteyer's late-'90s SNL impression as proof. So perhaps her willingness to go nose-to-nose with (and then break the nose of) the Jack in the Box mascot, in a fantastic 2018 Super Bowl commercial, should have been expected.

Hoping to launch a viral Twitter hashtag in #JackvsMartha, according to People, the ad (first shown during Super Bowl LII) saw Stewart's fancy-pants home cooking style challenged (quite literally) by the so-called namesake of Jack in the Box. Now, while we wish the brawl had played out further — the thought of these two titans of the culinary world rolling on the floor during a scrap is delightful — we also can't say that one tidbit diminishes the commercial's appeal. Of course, after snapping off Jack's nose, she assists him in replacing the olfactory organ like she's doing a basic craft — sealing this advertisement's place as one of the best fast food Super Bowl commercials of all time.

Worst: Find Herb (Burger King, 1986)

How many people even remember the character Herb the Nerd, Burger King's attempted answer to Wendy's famous "where's-the-beef?" spokeswoman Clara Peller (via Nation's Restaurant News)? Exactly. Frankly, to say this $40 million dollar dud of an ad campaign was a failure is an understatement, as the debut of Herb the Nerd in a 1986 commercial (which aired during Super Bowl XX, according to Ad Age) landed with a thud.

If there's a reason Herb was unable to etch his name in the annals of Super Bowl commercial history, it may be the spectacularly simple fact that he was, well, sort of boring. As author Al Ries told Nation's Restaurant News in 1986, the commercial (and character) wasn't "as humorous as it possibly could be," noting the portrayal of Herb was "too subtle" and "not exaggerated enough" to connect with consumers. Despite Burger King pouring millions of dollars into it, Herb the Nerd didn't make much of an impact as a Super Bowl commercial. Even an appearance at Wrestlemania 2 (via Tampa Tribune) several months after his doomed first appearance wasn't enough to leave a lasting impression on the world. As a result, nearly four decades later, this Burger King Super Bowl commercial belongs among the worst to ever air.

Best: Viva Young (Taco Bell, 2013)

What is it about watching elderly folks act like their youthful counterparts that's inherently amusing? Perhaps it's related to the unavoidable fact that death and (if we're lucky) old age awaits us all, because who wouldn't want to imagine they'll forever be filled with youthful exuberance? Regardless of the rationale, Taco Bell understood the innate appeal of old folks acting young with its 2013 commercial (aired during Super Bowl XLVII, according to Bleacher Report) — an ad that still makes us smile a decade later.

Featuring a crew of aged individuals wreaking havoc (while a Spanish language version of Fun's "We Are Young" plays over their antics), the 2013 commercial may not be as far-fetched as you'd think. After all, few people likely know what their aging relatives are up to on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour basis. Who's to say, then, whether this classic fast food Super Bowl commercial is more fantasy than reality? Frankly, seeing as we're all destined to pass away someday, it's nice to believe (or just pretend) we'll be raising the roof until our last moments.

Worst: Can I Get Uhhhhhhhhhhhh (McDonald's, 2022)

We'll be honest and admit there's nothing all that terrible about this 2022 commercial at first glance (which aired during Super Bowl LVI, according to Billboard). In fact, we'll even admit the idea of being stumped about one's fast food order when put on the spot brings a slight smile, since it does contain a kernel of truth. But any goodwill accumulated by the advertisement's execution is immediately washed away after a surprise appearance by the one and only Kanye West.

Look, we're not going to debate the talent or artistry of the controversial man known in 2023 as Ye. But his very public, very long-running inexcusable behavior in recent years — which included him proudly declaring his wholehearted admiration for Adolf Hitler in late 2022 (via Rolling Stone) — makes it impossible to find Yeezy anything but abhorrent. Consequently, we weren't thrilled to see his surprise cameo in this 2022 Super Bowl ad. And after a year of further decline, we're inclined to place this Kanye West-featuring McDonald's Super Bowl commercial among the worst of all time.

Best: These Bites Are Made For Poppin (Pizza Hut, 2006)

We love The Muppets, and find it hard to dislike anything involving the Jim Henson-created gang of puppets. Of course, it's not as though Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, or any other Muppet hasn't earned their keep with fans. In other words, we didn't include the 2006 Pizza Hut commercial (which aired during Super Bowl XL, according to The Gainesville Sun), featuring Miss Piggy cosplaying as Jessica Simpson, solely for sentimental value. No, it's among the best because it's downright hysterical.

Frankly, the sight of Miss Piggy pushing the then-new Cheesy Bites pizza — while singing a modified version of the Nancy Sinatra hit "These Boots are Made for Walkin'" — would be funny enough on its own. But knowing the commercial was a playful parody of a different Jessica Simpson-starring Pizza Hut commercial, only elevated our viewing experience — and desire to order a pan pizza. As Pizza Hut's then-chief marketing officer Tom James told The Gainesville Sun in 2006, "The Muppets bring a wink and a smile to it," reminding consumers that pizza is "about fun and enjoyment." In that sense, the pizza chain nailed it.

Worst: Seahawks Are (Not) Back-to-Back Champs (Papa John's, 2015)

Frankly, if you're a New England Patriots fan (like this writer), there's a case to be made that this 2015 Papa John's commercial (which aired at the end of Super Bowl XLIX) belongs among the best. After all, for Patriots fans, there's no reason to be anything but delighted by such an error. But, objectively speaking, a commercial congratulating the Seattle Seahawks for winning back-to-back championships — mere moments after the team had actually lost to the Patriots (via Washington Post) — was undoubtedly embarrassing. And it deserves a spot among the very worst Super Bowl commercials as a result.

Now, it's not necessarily Papa John's fault that the Super Bowl equivalent of "Dewey Defeats Truman" aired when it shouldn't have. As the official sponsor of that year's game, it's completely understandable that the fast food pizza chain might have produced two different commercials — one congratulating each team — to ensure a quick airing regardless of the winner (via SB Nation). But coming on the heels of a heartbreaking, last-second loss by the Seahawks, the commercial was akin to rubbing salt into a wound at its rawest. So no matter who's to blame for the blunder, this commercial will go down as one of the worst in Super Bowl history.

Best: Hang In There Jack (Jack in the Box, 2009)

Is it weird that two of the best fast food Super Bowl commercials of all time belong to Jack in the Box? Perhaps. After all, we've never felt Jack in the Box's food measured up when compared to other fast food chains. But we're not judging the fast food restaurant's food — only its Super Bowl-airing advertisements. So this 2009 commercial from Super Bowl XLIII, where the chain's titular Jack is hilariously hit by a bus (via The Orange County Register), belongs among the best to ever air during the big game.

Call us macabre if you must, but the sight of a city bus suddenly slamming into the giant, globe-headed Jack simply tickles us. Ditto the immediate aftermath in the commercial, where a group of concerned onlookers gather around helplessly, before a screen fades to black, and the URL "" hovers on the screen. Frankly, the faux-serious nature of the ad (where a goofy fast food mascot is treated with the same gravity as a real-life human being) makes us chuckle every time. Plus, the idea that Jack in the Box might have actually chosen to kill off its mascot at the time, in such a spectacular fashion, drove the public's curiosity as intended. In fact, according to ClickZ, the company received a notable boost in online engagement, which continued even a month after its Super Bowl premiere.

Worst: Pepe Le Pew (McDonald's, 1986)

The decision to cut Pepe Le Pew from "Space Jam: A New Legacy" in 2021 (via Deadline) felt like a long time coming. After all, it's not as though we needed the #MeToo movement to recognize a lecherous cartoon skunk was best left as a relic from a bygone era. Clearly, though, Pepe Le Pew has no place in modern society — which only crystallized our belief the cartoon character's starring appearance in a 1986 commercial for McDonald's (which aired during Super Bowl XX, according to Ad Age) was one of the worst we've ever seen.

Actually, it's not just a matter of Pepe Le Pew's appearance that dampens the viewing experience of this 1986 McDonald's ad. More than that, the fact the character was chosen to shill for the fast food conglomerate's famously-failed product, the McDLT, does it no favors, either. Maybe McDonald's should have simply aired the original McDLT commercial (starring an exhaustingly-energetic and young Jason Alexander) instead. It might not have been much better quality-wise, but at least it wouldn't be marred by the queasy actions of a sexual predator skunk.