What Burger King's Cryptic Onion Ring And French Fry Post Really Means

Recently, Burger King uploaded an eye-catching post to Instagram. At a glance, the array of French fries and onion rings appears to be an attempt at replicating Andy Warhol's works of advertisement repackaged as highbrow art. Next to the image Burger King wrote, "pssttt, hey we're trying to tell you something."

Burger King has a long history of obtuse social media posts. In July of 2020, as Audacy reported, it tweeted, "breathe the farts of change" without context. It later turned out that this was the chain's way of introducing an initiative to reduce methane emissions from farting cows. That, however, was one of the more straightforward attempts. Thrillist reported on two tweets from 2018 that perplex. One stated, "if you guys only knew what we wish we could tweet but can't for 'legal reasons.'" The other mashed letters together: "mp;saf."

But those are examples pulled from Twitter. On Instagram, Burger King tends to be less enigmatic, opting for more basic designs like the mentioned French fries and onions or straight-up advertisements instead. So what's up with the vaguely Warholian arrangement of fries and onion rings?

What is Burger King trying to tell us?

The apparently random fries and rings are in fact arranged in a strict order. If you take the fries as ones and the rings as zeroes they become a string of binary numbers that translate to ASCII characters, which most of us would simply refer to as letters. The decoded word is "king," as some users pointed out on Burger King's Instagram post.

Conceivably, this could be meant as a promotional code for a free whopper. Last year, as Market Watch covered, Burger King offered college students a free Whopper if they solved a math problem. However, in that example, Burger King explicitly stated that a free whopper was up for grabs. No inference was needed.

The other way we could take "phtssttt, hey we're trying to tell you something" as a way to drive engagement on its page and remind followers that Burger King is "king." This tracks with the chain's previous behavior. For example, one post features a monologue about how wonderful the chain's coffee is. No coffee special dropped with it. Just an attempt to lodge the brand in the public's brain.

What the post could really mean, then, is that the social media team had a fun afternoon designing a fast food binary code.