The Reason Dave Thomas Regretted Naming His Chain Wendy's

Everyone knows (or thinks they know) the "Wendy" in Wendy's — a perennially perky pigtailed redheaded who's known for getting sassy on Twitter. One thing many of us didn't know, at least not until recently, is that there is a real Wendy who's actually a redhead and once wore her hair in pigtails, although now that she's in her 50s, she prefers a more grown-up hairstyle. Yes, Wendy Thomas-Morse, daughter of restaurant founder Dave Thomas, was the one child out of his five children he chose as the face — and the eponym — of his fledgling burger chain. 

While Wendy's the chain certainly prospered, as did the family's fortunes, Dave was not without his regrets. In a conversation with his daughter held before his death in 2002, Dave expressed regret that he'd named his chain after her, saying he felt it might have "put a lot of pressure on" her so he should have named it after himself — although his face probably wouldn't have looked nearly so cute on those signs.

Does Wendy herself regret being a brand name?

For the most part, the grown-up Wendy doesn't mind at all being the face of her father's chain. As a child, however, she had mixed feelings. She, of course, enjoyed getting to skip school for restaurant and store openings. She also adored getting to wear a pretty dress and eat hamburgers for the camera, describing herself in a Q&A on Wendy's Square Deal blog as "to-the-moon excited." What she didn't like, however, was the pigtails, whose signature perkiness was actually achieved by pipe cleaners and evidently really, really hurt when held for the duration of a lengthy photo session. She also admitted in a 1990 interview with People magazine that she had been teased quite a bit about her face becoming a logo, but the adult Wendy, at least, could be philosophical about it, stating, "It just goes with the territory."

What's Wendy up to now?

Today, Wendy (who was actually christened Melinda, but still goes by her childhood nickname) is still very involved in promoting her family's brand, and has even appeared in some relatively recent ad campaigns such as this 2011 commercial for the Dave's Hot 'N Juicy Cheeseburger. While Wendy somewhat agrees with her father about the pressure of bearing such an iconic name, as well as being the second generation of a burger family dynasty — in other words, going vegan or converting to Hinduism would probably be out of the question — she also admits that the name has its perks. "Sometimes if I need a reservation, it helps!" she says.