Some of humanity's greatest inventions and discoveries were made by complete accident — like when Alexander Fleming discovered a mold in a petri dish had killed bacteria and he developed penicillin as a result.
When it comes to our species' breakthroughs, topping or even matching that one is going to be pretty tough, but there is one in the culinary world that comes pretty darn close: the Whopper Jr. So who is the brilliant mind that invented the fast food staple?
Who invented the Whopper Jr.? And where was the Whopper Jr. invented?
Usually, spinoffs of beloved properties tend to come out way later than their OG counterparts, but the miniature version of Burger King's trademark sandwich is actually nearly as old as the Burger King franchise itself. The first BK opened in Miami in 1954, and nine years later Luis Arenas-Perez would create its smaller variant after moving from Miami to Puerto Rico.
Arenas-Perez was CEO and president of BK in PR, and according to the San Diego Tribune he ended up inventing the variant as a last-minute decision to roll with the punches when he encountered a problem in the days leading up to the grand opening of a BK he was opening in Carolina, Puerto Rico.
The issue? There weren't any bun molds available for the Whopper and it was evident that these molds wouldn't arrive in time for the grand opening. Instead of telling his customers on the first day that there wouldn't be any Whoppers available for purchase, he decided to make a pivot that would allow diners to experience the same flavor of the Whopper, just in a smaller package.
Arenas-Perez instructed his team to use the standard-size hamburger molds instead and then put all of the Whopper fixin's on those patties — so, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, ketchup, and pickles sandwiched between a sesame seed bun — and boom: The Whopper Jr. was created.
So while the real-deal Whopper wasn't on Arenas-Perez's menu that day in 1963, the Jr. variant was a smash success with guests — so much so that it was officially added to the restaurant chain's menu as a variant for folks who want all of that Whopper flavor but are a little intimidated by how big it is.
As a result of his quick thinking, Luis Arenas-Perez was officially inducted into the Burger King hall of fame, according to QSR Web, and El Nuevo Dia also named him as the founder of the miniature version of the franchise's iconic sandwich.
Burger King has hit a bit of a rough patch in recent years; it's been reported that some 400 locations are either in the process of closing or have already closed down. Zippia writes that in spite of what appears to be fewer and fewer people frequenting BK restaurants that the chain still moves a significant number of products on a daily basis.
According to the outlet, Burger King sells 2.1 billion Whoppers each and every year. In fact, its flagship burger is its bestselling item along with the Whopper Jr., french fries, Impossible Whopper, and chicken garden salad.
According to Franchise Times, there were 19,789 Burger King locations all over the world as of Sept. 27, 2023. The region with the most Burger Kings? Texas, which has 583 of them, so if you ever get a hankering for a Whopper while you're in the Lone Star State, you probably won't have to travel too far.