Creepiest fast food commercials of all time

Fast food commercials are notorious for using bizarre tactics to build their brand awareness and sell everything from burgers and tacos to limited-edition dipping sauces to the masses. Nowadays, we tend to think of mouthwatering close-up glamour shots as the best way to get an audience excited about food, but many brands actually seem to take the commercial as their opportunity to do incredibly strange things in the name of selling food you can eat out of a paper bag in your car.

This creative license can sometimes lead to commercials that go beyond the realm of the bizarre and turn into anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds of downright creepy content. We took a deep dive into YouTube's fast food commercial archives and dug up some of the absolute creepiest fast food commercials of all time. The videos below span the full spectrum from uncomfortable to terrifying to "why would any advertiser ever think this is a good idea?" 

Burger King's 'Eat Like Snake' fast food commercial

This incredibly strange Korean fast food commercial for Burger King's Triple Whopper sandwich follows the saga of two office workers and one giant sandwich. The commercial opens with a scene in which two workers are sitting alone at separate tables, one behind the other. One guy unwraps a delicious-looking Triple Whopper, then gets up to get a drink. 

At this point, the main character immediately turns into a very creepy half-snake, half-person with the singular goal of inhaling the massive burger in a single gulp, without chewing — like a snake! It raises a lot of questions like, why is he so good at slithering? Has he done this before? Why is this the first thing that comes to mind when he decides to steal his colleague's lunch?

Ostensibly, the creative minds at Burger King were trying to draw some comparison between a snake's animal instinct to unhinge its jaw to swallow its prey whole and the feeling one gets when looking at an unreasonable amount of ground beef. It doesn't land. Instead, we get something super creepy and uncomfortable. 

Jack in the Box's 'Philly Cousins' fast food commercial

Jack in the Box, like Burger King, makes some extremely creepy fast food commercials. That's due in large part to the fact that many of the brand's television spots star an uncanny horror show of a character, a giant Jack in the Box bobblehead superimposed over an otherwise normal human body that walks and talks and does things otherwise normal humans do. 

In this commercial advertising the chain's Sourdough Philly Cheesesteak Melts, Jack brings some cheesesteaks to his "Philly cousins," a bizarre family comprised of two more Jack-type humanoids rocking mullets and sports jerseys, with a animal print-clad fully human mom, also with a mullet. The Philly cousins get kind of rowdy, but ultimately, they're impressed with Jack's sourdough skills. At the end, the elder Philly cousin holds up a cheesesteak sandwich and shakes it. The whole thing is a strange way to make a cheesesteak melt seem like it makes sense on the Jack in the Box menu.

McDonald's 'Mac Tonight' fast food commercial

McDonald's rolled out this very creepy computer-generated fast food mascot with a crescent moon-shaped head in the 1980s. The "Mac Tonight" ad campaign in which he starred was spurred by an advertising exec's love of "Mack the Knife," so they wrote a parody called "Mac Tonight" that encouraged viewers to romanticize having cool, late-night hangouts at McDonald's. The character was modeled after singer Bobby Darin, and eventually, the chain was sued by his heirs for co-opting his performance style. 

There were many very odd commercials starring this character, including Mac Tonight in space, in which popular McDonald's menu items like chicken nuggets and fries turn into constellations, and this 1989 television spot promoting the Mac Tonight Happy Meal toys, which stars a fully grown adult man playing with his son's Happy Meal toys. There's also this strange jaunt through a McDonald's-themed amusement park.

There are many creepy things about this moon-shaped man, but one of the creepiest? The pairing of his moon head with regular human hands. Plus, there's the fact that you can never see his eyes because he's always wearing dark glasses — even in space. 

Burger King's 'Herb the Nerd' fast food commercial

Burger King is really good at making weird, creepy commercials, which is why its television spots occupy four of the places on our list of the creepiest fast food commercials of all time. This may not be the creepiest of the creepy commercials out there — but it certainly is the most sexist!

The concept of the "Herb the Nerd" campaign is pretty straightforward: Herb is a nerdy, rich guy who wants to gain the attention of the hot women who hang out at Burger King. But since he is so nerdy, the only way they'll give him the time of day is if he promises to maybe make one of them rich too.

We can only assume that the creatives behind this campaign were trying to find a way to make women want to spend more time at their local Burger King location in the hopes that they'll be blessed with Herb's presence, at which point they can all fawn over him and hope they get lucky. This is not a commercial that could be made in 2020. 

This terrifying KFC fast food commercial from 1967

Colonel Sanders is a creepy-enough fast food character in any scenario, but put him in this horrifying 1967 commercial, and you get a very unnerving minute of television. The spot starts with a faceless voice saying "let's muzzle him," and goes on to reveal Colonel Sanders himself held hostage by a room full of women who are clearly trying to get him to reveal his secret recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken.

When the viewer arrives on the scene, they've tied him to a chair and are forcing him to take a lie detector test while he rattles off a list of ingredients for his famous fried chicken. He doesn't break, however, and proceeds to make the lie detector go absolutely haywire by claiming that the recipe includes obviously fake ingredients like "four ounces of grandfather's overcoat."

Then, a creepy narrator tells girls to give up because the recipe is "the Colonel's secret ... forever." This commercial has all the hallmarks of horror, including a single lightbulb hanging over the Colonel.

Wendy's 'Give A Little Nibble' fast food commercial

This Wendy's commercial, which promotes the company's use of high-quality beef, falls squarely in the realm of things that make viewers extremely uncomfortable. The opening shot is of a giant hand taking a little bit of beef from a giant burger. Then the "give a little nibble" jingle plays throughout the entire 30-second spot, while all manner of people — including a guy wearing a full suit and using his umbrella as a parachute — float in and out of some kind of all-white, anti-gravity environment, pulling tiny chunks of beef off of a giant Wendy's cheeseburger.

It's weird, and there's not a lot of logic to the whole shtick. The narrator tells us that we should be taking little nibbles of all kinds of hamburgers so that we can eventually realize the superiority of Wendy's and come to love it all the more. No, thanks. If we wanted the highest-quality beef, we probably wouldn't head to a fast food joint anyway. Instead, it just makes us not want to see another burger for a while. 

Burger King's very strange 'Wake Up with the King' fast food commercial

This very creepy ad campaign was rolled out in an effort to advertise Burger King's evolving breakfast offerings, in particular, the Double Croissandwich breakfast sandwich. In the opening shot, a nice, normal-looking guy is sleeping in his bed. Seems innocent enough until he sits up and realizes that there is a terrifying living version of the Burger King mascot in bed with him.

Did they have a one-night stand, or did the king just creep into the bed unbeknownst to the bed's owner in the middle of the night? None of that is clear. What is clear, however, is that there was probably not a lot of consent involved in this sleeping arrangement. Our hero looks to the king for some kind of explanation as to why they're in bed together, but he is met with only silence and a breakfast sandwich. It's more clever than some other uncomfortable fast food commercials, but it's still quite unnerving. 

Quizno's bizarre 'Spongemonkeys' fast food commercial

If you frequented the strange, dark corners of the early internet, then you're probably already familiar with Spongemonkeys, the clumsily-animated creations of Joel Veitch, who runs the website Rather Good. The Spongemonkeys originally gained a cult following after appearing in a song called "We Like the Moon," where they talk about, yes, their love for the moon. One of the Spongemonkeys sits upon the moon itself, wearing a jaunty bowler hat, while the other strums an acoustic guitar in a pirate hat.

The Quizno's fast food commercial is an obvious spin-off called "We Love the Subs" set to the tune of "We Like The Moon." People were so creeped out by the commercial when it first came out that Slate's Seth Stevenson actually had to write an entire explanation on the commercial, saying, "Never have I gotten so much mail on a single ad. I gather that you seek an explanation. And with great urgency. Many of you sound disturbed—as though your lives will be placed on hold until you've come to terms with these haunting creatures." Indeed. 

The first appearance of Ronald McDonald in a fast food commercial

Ronald McDonald is pretty creepy in any iteration, and his first-ever television fast food commercial appearance in 1963 is no exception. Lo-fi early Ronald is unquestionably the weirdest version of the character and one that no modern parent would let anywhere near their children. He has a soft drink cup for a nose, an ill-fitting clown suit, and serial killer-style makeup, all topped off with an old-school McDonald's tray for a hat. Creepy!

He appears surrounded by strange dolls and stuffed animals, and after rudely gesturing towards a disembodied hand that takes away his hamburger, says that he knows he will be friends with the kids because he "likes to do everything boys and girls like to do." Uh-huh. He then takes another hamburger from the "magic tray" that is attached to the waistband of his pants, toward which he points a number of times. How the character survived past this initial travesty of a commercial is a mystery. 

Pizza Hut's 'The Pizza Head Show' fast food commercial

If you really want to absolutely melt your brain, watch this ten-minute-long compilation of every fast food commercial episode of The Pizza Head Show, which follows Pizza Head, a piece of Pizza Hut pizza, on a series of terrifying misadventures. In every episode, the innocent, unassuming Pizza Head is put into scenarios in which Steve, an anthropomorphic pizza cutter, tries with varying levels of success to maim him. A spirited narrator is always trying to convince Pizza Head, who eventually begins to catch on, that he is actually totally safe in these scenarios. When Pizza Head says that "Chef Steve" isn't really a chef or "Umpire Steve" isn't really an umpire, our friend the narrator responds with a sinister, "Sure he is!" 

All of the Pizza Head Show's episodes are unsettling, but the absolute creepiest is this episode, where Pizza Head is getting a check-up from the "world-famous Doctor Steve," who wants to perform some routine tests. Everything about this is terrifying, from the squishing sound of the pile of "donor pepperonis" to the gallery of pizza cutter medical students watching the pepperoni transplant procedure take place. 

Kentucky Fried Chicken's 'Colonel Sanders Resurrected' fast food commercial

Any time a shot opens with a guy sitting behind a big desk, turning around to face the camera in a squeaky swivel-chair, you know you're about to see something creepy. The Colonel Sanders Resurrected spot aims to answer the question, "What happened to that terrifying guy whose face is on the KFC packaging?" However, there are no answers, only unsettling allusions.

The colonel's laugh is absolutely the scariest part of this fast food commercial, as it sounds like it is coming from beyond the grave. The colonel himself seems to have missed a fair amount of history, expressing shock at the existence of things like the International Space Station and cargo pants. At the end of the commercial, after he ominously says, "I'm back, America," we see him surrounded by a band of children clad in Colonel Sanders-lookalike outfits, all playing the banjo. Notably, the Colonel has a statue of himself on the desk and is sitting in front of a portrait of, yep, himself.

If cargo pants have too many pockets, this commercial is an example of too many colonels. 

Burger King's fast food commercial with scary clowns

Burger King makes some of the creepiest fast food commercials around, and this creepy clowns commercial advertising a Halloween promotion that offered a free Whopper to anyone who came into the restaurant dressed up like a clown is downright terrifying. Don't watch this commercial before bed if you don't want to have scary clown nightmares because it truly is that unsettling.

As is the case with many modern Burger King commercials, our journey begins with an unsuspecting Normal Guy who is just trying to leave his house when he finds a creepy honking bike horn on his front step. He looks around but gets on his bike and rides off into the dark. About 28 seconds in, we encounter our first scary clown, a Ronald McDonald lookalike riding on a tiny, squeaky tricycle. Our hero rides fast in the opposite direction, but naturally, terrifying clowns keep appearing out of nowhere. Still, he rides off toward the beacon of the Burger King sign, where he'll be safe, maybe? Of course not! The Burger King is filled with more scary clowns demanding their free Whoppers.

This is a creepy commercial that cannot be unseen. It's an effective marketing ploy for some adults, but it's also the kind of thing that will ensure small children don't sleep for weeks and develop a lifelong fear of both clowns and, perhaps, Burger King.

Honorable Mention: Little Baby's Ice Cream's 'This Is a Special Time' fast food commercial

If you're not from Pennsylvania, then it's possible that you might not have heard of Little Baby's Ice Cream. In November 2019, Eater reported that the local ice cream chain was closing down but not before reminding us of the supremely bizarre television commercial that gave Little Baby's brand recognition beyond its regional reach. Little Baby's sold unusual ice cream flavors, so it isn't surprising that its signature commercial was similarly odd. It screams "art students got their first big contract" and features a human who is either made entirely out of or entirely covered in what appears to be vanilla ice cream.

The commercial, which was made to promote the opening of the chain's Fishtown location way back in 2012, and Eater Philly's Collin Flatt immediately dubbed it "the scariest commercial ever." The ice cream person stands alone against a black background while creepy music box music plays in the background. He then proceeds to eat ice cream, wide-eyed and terrifying, directly off of the top of his head. He claims that eating Little Baby's Ice Cream is the reason why he loves his job, why he loves his life, why his pores are so clean and clear.

It leaves you wondering why anyone would want to eat any ice cream after watching this fast food commercial, let alone the ice cream that guy was eating.