Early life and education
Melinda Lou “Wendy” Thomas-Morse (born September 14, 1961) is the daughter of American businessman Dave Thomas, the founder of the fast food brand Wendy’s. She is the namesake and mascot of the brand. She uses the name Wendy Thomas in her role as a spokesperson for Wendy’s.
Thomas was born in Columbus, Ohio, grew up in Upper Arlington, and is the fourth child of Dave and Lorraine Thomas. As a child, she was unable to pronounce her L’s and R’s, struggling with her own name Melinda, and so became known by her nickname Wendy (with the pen-pin merger).
The eight-year-old would eventually become the namesake of her father’s restaurant Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers, or just “Wendy’s” for short.
In addition to being the namesake, her likeness was used as the Wendy’s logo in the form of a young freckle-faced girl in red braids. Thomas graduated from the University of Florida in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in consumer behaviorism.
Thomas owned several Wendy’s restaurants near Dallas, Texas until 1999. After the death of her father Dave Thomas in 2002, she and her siblings bought restaurants in her native Columbus area. As of September 2010, Thomas herself owned or co-owned more than 30 Wendy’s stores. In November 2010, she began appearing in Wendy ads on camera for the first time.
Her voice was featured in a 1989 ad giving her father advice from off-camera. The 2010 ads aired first in Las Vegas, Nevada; Mobile, Alabama; and Virginia Beach, Virginia; test markets before being rolled out nationally.
Beginning in April 2012 she starred in a series of ads for Wendy’s called That Wendy’s Way. She also appeared in the ‘Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy Cheeseburger’ commercial produced by Publicis Groupe’s Kaplan Thaler Group.
Where’s the beef?
“Where’s the beef?” is a catchphrase in the United States and Canada, introduced as a slogan for the fast food chain Wendy’s in 1984. Since then it has become an all-purpose phrase questioning the substance of an idea, event, or product.
The phrase first came to the public audience in a U.S. television commercial for the Wendy’s chain of hamburger restaurants in 1984. The strategy behind the campaign was to distinguish competitors’ (McDonald’s and Burger King) big name hamburgers (Big Mac and Whopper respectively) from Wendy’s “modest” Single by focusing on the large bun used by the competitors and the larger beef patty in Wendy’s hamburger. The concept was developed in collaboration between Wendy and her father Dave Thomas.
In the ad, titled “Fluffy Bun”, actress Clara Peller receives a burger with a massive bun but a tiny patty from a fictional competitor, which uses the slogan “Home of the Big Bun”. The small patty prompts Peller angrily to exclaim, “Where’s the beef?” Director Joe Sedelmaier actually wanted Peller to say, “Where is all the beef?” but because of emphysema, that was too hard for her.
The commercial was originally supposed to star a young couple, but Sedelmaier did not find the concept funny and changed it to the elderly ladies.
An earlier version, featuring a middle-aged bald man saying, “Thanks, but where’s the beef?”, failed to make much impact. After the Peller version, the catchphrase was repeated in television shows, films, magazines, and other media outlets.