Why Burger King's '70s Star Wars Promotion Was So Groundbreaking

If you're a fan of both Whoppers and Wookies, then you may already know that Burger King has done a few "Star Wars" promotions over the years. According to FastFoodToyReviews on YouTube, one of those promotions took place in 2005 when "Episode III — Revenge of the Sith" was released. The popular toy critic reports that the fast-food chain debuted 17 kids meal toys inspired by characters from the galaxy from far, far away in conjunction with the release of the film.

The relationship between the burger giant and the iconic media franchise goes back decades to when its original movie trilogy was released. According to Finance 101, the original "Star Wars" film (now referred to as "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope") was released in 1977 and was the highest-grossing film of all time until "E.T." — another iconic character from outside our world — came into the picture in 1982. Burger King then made its own groundbreaking move in connection with this first "Star Wars" movie. 

Burger King was the first fast-food restaurant to have a movie promotion

It may be hard to imagine a time when an onslaught of fast-food toy tie-ins seemingly accompanied the release of nearly every major animated motion picture. Yet according to Wide Open Eats, fast-food restaurants didn't cross-promote movies prior to 1977, the year Burger King broke history by promoting "Star Wars." The first-of-its-kind marketing strategy included "Star Wars" posters, stickers, and drinking glasses (via Fast Food Reference).

In addition to Burger King and "Star Wars," the drinking glasses were also a cross promotion with Coca-Cola. According to Flashbak, the chain not only introduced them in 1977 for the release of the first movie, but also continued the promotion in 1980 and 1983 to coincide with the releases of the subsequent "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" films (via IMDb). Burger King introduced a new "Star Wars" glass each week to encourage customers to return to collect all four. The burger giant's upbeat commercial shows glasses featuring characters including Chewbacca and Darth Vader and explains that they come with the purchase of a drink (via YouTube). 

As for the Golden Arches, McDonald's snagged its own out-of-this-world cross promotion in 1979 when the chain debuted its "Star Trek" meal, according to Wide Open Eats. But by then Burger King had already been the first to break ground as the first fast-food restaurant to launch a movie promotion.