Could their really be a more perfect pairing? Well, there might be, but it’s not every day that somehow, someone takes the world of Fast Food branding and infuses it with one of the most beloved movie genres of all time, the Mafia flick. Many of the most memorable fast food brands maintain imagery that we’ve grown up with for years, and have preceded us for decades. Playing upon this familiarity, artist Andrew Shirey took it upon himself to make an amazing connection between the brands and characters we’re used to, and remodeling them with a heavy mafia undertone. Everyone from KFC’s “Colonel Sanders” to the infamous Ronald McDonald is reinterpreted by Shirey. Here’s a tour:
On the far left (top), we have Robert “Jack in the” Box, an awesome re-imagining of Jack in the Box’s beloved clown. Shirey mentions that he was inspired by the recent Super Bowl commercials which showcased Jack being struck by a bus, falling into a temporary coma and getting facial reconstructive surgery for the second time. That same commercial campaign maintained amateur reports from concerned citizens that the entire incident may have been a hit job involving “The King” (Burger King) and “R. McD” (McDonald’s). This guy definitely fits the bill.
To the right of Jack, we have Ron “The Don” McDonald w/ Grimace and Birdie. In this piece, we definitely hearken back to the earlier ages of McDonald’s promotional materials through Ronald’s illustrious sidekicks. This is the first character that Shirey created in his collection, subsequently creating an awesome Internet buzz and a demand for the rest of the characters in full color.
To the right of the Don comes The Colonel himself. Shirey says this was the easiest of all the characters to create and execute. He says he barely did anything to him, “save for changing his suit gray and adding pinstripes”.
Next on the bill, representing Taco Bell is “Chihuahua” Carlito. It’s not a stretch to find out which gangster film this man came from, imagine Tony Montana of Scarface…but he’s hopped up on Spicy Lava Sauce rather than an insane amount of nose candy. In Shirey’s descriptions for this man, he musingly explains that Chih is indeed a junkie, a “junk food junkie”.
To the right of Carlito we have “Baby Face” Bob, the muscle behind the Quizno’s family. At first I didn’t understand what “Baby Face” Bob had anything to do with Quizno’s, and then I was reminded of their campaign a few years back where they enlisted a talking infant named Bob to promote a few sandwiches for them. I guess Bob grew up, and stayed gangster.
Next up is “Little” Caesar, easily my favorite character out of all the fast food families. For The Godfather fans, this guy definitely bares similarity to the plumpy Clemenza character. I’ve always seen Little Caesars as a very unintimidating, lowkey pizza spot…especially in comparison to the big shots over at Pizza Hut and Domino’s. Yet, according to the new QSR reports of the nation’s top fast food brands according to total sales, the Caesars family clocked in at a respectable #26, just ahead of the Long John Silvers family, and a few clicks behind the Panda Express clan. I guess the irony is running rampant, and “Little” Caesar is still moving plenty of products.
B.K. “The King” of the Burger King family. Imagine a Colombian drug lord mixed with a robber baron, and the voice of Señor Esteban Vihaio from Kill Bill 2. For the record, B.K. is not a pimp. I can see him being quite the contrary character to Ron “The Don”, especially if their families ever got involved in the same industries. Oh, wait…
To the right of the King is the unwilling heir to the throne, “Wendy” Gwendolen. Shirey took to a more Victorian aristocrat vibe in her design, with a hint of Southern belle to compliment the Wendy’s brand. Last in the row is “Papa” John, modeled after Papa John’s founder John Schnatter. Things look like they’re going pretty well for John…or maybe he’s just the type to hide it extremely well.
“PANDA” CHERNG and Pan-Pan are the seemingly ruthless button men (and woman) for the Panda Express dynasty. Considering Andrew only had the logo of their panda to go off of, this is definitely an interesting trip into the logic behind the company’s branding (wether intentional on Panda Express’ behalf or not).
The concept behind the next couple, Troy “the Trojan” and Katie lies in inspiration from the Sonic’s drive thru brand. Though B.K. wasn’t a pimp, doesn’t mean there isn’t a pimp in the group. Troy is definitely holding it down for the “quick service” industry. Katie is apparently one of his “roller hoes”, making Troy the legitimate dealer of women in the group. Pimp. Daddy. He’s not here for the titles, let’s be serious, he probably has a wife and 2.5 kids at home.
Rounding out the group of Fast Food Mafia Families are The Subway Boys and “Queen” D.Q. The Subway Boys are probably the most psychologically and image-appropriate of the bunch. Shirey worked with the idea of Jared Fogle, Subway’s true life “fat-gone-skinny” spokesperson. With the Subway Boys, we see a fat and thin version of the twin brothers. Notice the thinner Subway Boy’s suspenders. I guess the sudden weight loss didn’t translate fast enough in his attire. As for the “Queen” D.Q., she was inspired by D.Q.’s red-lips branding and drag queen makeupry (is that a word? spell check is telling me it isn’t). I guess they serve more than just frozen treats over at the Dairy Queen.
What took Andrew Shirey a week to accomplish has already found its place on the Internet as a cult favorite. Appearing on several mainstay blogs and garnering tens of thousands of views is just a small insight into the quality and longevity of this piece. I hope this is just a continuation in a long line of accentuating the art found in food, and food that can be considered art. If that sounds corny, it probably is. Until next time, here’s a subtle Segway into one last corny ending lines for a mafia-related feature, “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” (Peter Clemenza, Godfather)
Written by: Elie Ayrouth
Graphics: Andrew Shirey
All images used in this article are owned by Andrew Shirey.
All characters and likenesses are copyright their respective owners.