David R. Edgerton, who helped start the world’s second-largest hamburger chain, Burger King, passed away on April 3rd in Miami, Florida. He was 90.
The cause of death is said to be complications from surgery after a fall, according to Betty Amos Righetti, his friend and accountant.
Edgerton started Burger King with just $12,000. He had planned on starting a Dairy Queen with a hamburger section in Jacksonville, Florida, but decided instead to acquire Insta Burger King, a 15-cent hamburger business in Miami.
His idea for Burger King was a restaurant with a limited menu, fast service, and low prices, but instead of carhops bringing orders out to customers’ cars, the customers would go inside to order food.
Times were hard at first. “We were losing our butts,” said Edgerton in a 2014 interview.
One of their biggest problems at Insta Burger King was the complex broiler that was prone to breakdowns. Edgerton once “reached into his toolbox and grabbed a hatchet” and destroyed the machine shouting, ”I can build a better machine than this pile of junk!”
Three weeks later, created a continuous-chain broiler that would eventually set a standard for all Burger King broilers as well as become a model for equipment in the industry.
Business for Burger King took off with their invention of the Whopper, which was invented after Edgerton and business partner Jim McLamore tried a burger with a lot of fixings at a small burger restaurant near the University of Florida in Gainesville.
In 1967, Edgerton sold Burger King to the Pillsbury Company for $25 million. The fast-food business took off soon after the sale and had Edgerton waited a year or two, the sale price would have been well over $100 million.
In 2010, Burger King was sold to 3G Capital for $4 billion.
David Russell Edgerton Jr. was born on May 26, 1927, in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He was the oldest of two children born Edgerton Sr. a hotel operator, and Blanche Berger, a concert violinist.
In 1968, after the sale of Burger King, Edgerton married Kerstin Anderson, a Swedish flight attendant. They had no children and divorced in 1972.
Edgerton did not remarry and leaves no immediate survivors. His sister, Jane, died before him.