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    The Big One

  • A look at all of the important anniversaries celebrated this year.

    KFC/Yum! Brands
    KFC celebrated its Original Recipe's 75th anniversary with an ad campaign that brought Colonel Sanders back to life, first through comedian Darrell Hammond, then through fellow "SNL" alum Norm Macdonald (above).

    75: KFC’s Original Recipe

    Colonel Harland Sanders may have opened his original restaurant, Sanders Court & Café, in 1930, and the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise may have formally launched in 1952. But the core of the company—the (literally) secret recipe that has driven KFC’s success—is the Colonel’s Original Recipe, which made its debut 75 years ago, 10 years after Sanders opened his first restaurant.

    KFC celebrated the 75th anniversary by reincarnating none other than the Colonel himself. Earlier this year, a series of offbeat advertisements starring former “Saturday Night Live” comedian Darrell Hammond playing Colonel Sanders hit the airwaves. The ads received mixed reviews, but the negative opinions didn’t phase Yum! Brands CEO Greg Creed, who said during a conference earlier in the year, “[People are] actually talking about KFC, and you can market to love and hate; you cannot market to indifference.”

    The company made a surprise move in August, when Hammond was switched out for fellow “SNL” alum Norm Macdonald as the Colonel, a move KFC said was planned all along.


    They Say It’s Your Birthday

    All the brands celebrating milestones in 2015.

    75:
    KFC

    75:
    Dairy Queen

    70:
    Baskin-Robbins

    65:
    Whataburger

    65:
    Dunkin’ Donuts

    60:
    McDonald’s

    55:
    Domino’s Pizza

    55:
    Hardee’s

    50:
    Subway

    50:
    Gold Star Chili

    35:
    El Pollo Loco

    30:
    Rally’s

    30:
    Boston Market

    30:
    CiCi’s Pizza

    30:
    Cinnabon

    25:
    Zaxby’s

    25:
    Jamba Juice

    20:
    Pita Pit

    20:
    Qdoba

    20:
    Noodles & Company

    20:
    California Tortilla

    20:
    Juice It Up!

    15:
    Moe’s Southwest Grill

    10:
    Fresh to Order

    10L
    Freshii

    10:
    Hannah’s Bretzel

    10:
    Pinkberry

    10:
    Elevation Burger

    5:
    Dog Haus

    5:
    Burger 21

    5:
    Roam Burger

    75: Dairy Queen

    The high royalty of the dessert category celebrated its diamond anniversary in March. The company, which has more than 6,000 locations in 20-plus countries, isn’t showing its age at a time when many established brands might struggle with an identity crisis. Far from it; Dairy Queen has used its big year to not only celebrate its heritage, but also to plant the seeds of success for the future.

    The so-called “Fanniversary” began in January with a Birthday Cake Oreo Blizzard. Then, on March 16, all Dairy Queen locations in the U.S. and Canada offered free 5-ounce servings of vanilla soft-serve cones while accepting donations to the Children’s Miracle Network (Dairy Queen’s charity of choice). And in June, the brand launched its first major motion picture collaboration when it promoted “Jurassic World” with six specially designed Blizzard cups, in-store signage, point-of-sale materials, a film-inspired Blizzard flavor, and TV and digital advertising.

    The dessert icon’s biggest move, though, might have been the launch of its DQ Bakes! platform, which introduced nine new items in three categories: Hot Desserts à la Mode, Artisan-style Sandwiches, and Snack Melts. Brand executives said it was the biggest menu addition in the company’s history.

    “Millennials are looking for things with higher-quality ingredients that are made fresh and made to order,” Bill Barrier, executive vice president of global product development at American Dairy Queen Corp., told QSR in August. “We want to make sure that Millennials continue to come to us and eventually bring their kids.”


    70: Baskin-Robbins

    Limitless options and combinations may be the customer trend du jour at dessert shops these days, but for Baskin-Robbins, the magic number has always been 31.

    The brand that has championed its 31 flavors heritage has celebrated year No. 70 throughout 2015 with its “Celebrate 31” promotion, which offers $1.31 scoops at participating shops on the 31st of each corresponding month (January, March, May, July, August, October, and December).


    65: Whataburger

    As far as regional restaurant sensations go, Whataburger is up there with the most feverishly passionate fans—and among the most successful. The burger brand that opened its first store in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1950 has grown to nearly 800 restaurants and almost $2 billion in system-wid sales, all while concentrating its growth to its home state of Texas and across the Southeast and Plains regions.

    Whataburger honored its 65th anniversary on August 8, the date on which founder Harmon Dobson opened the first store. The company offered a free “Whatasize” on all “Whatameals,” upgrading guests who ordered a regular-sized meal to a large fries and beverage.


    65: Dunkin’ Donuts

    The cofee-and-doughnuts juggernaut is only just now getting started on its global domination; the brand recently signed a 1,400-unit deal in China and has big hopes for the American West, where it remains under-penetrated.

    But Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t neglecting its heritage—or the people who helped get the brand to this point. On June 11, the company celebrated its 65th anniversary by giving its 3 million–plus DD Perks loyalty members an extra 65 points for the purchase of a beverage and doughnut.


    50: Subway

    For most brands, the Golden Anniversary is a time to celebrate, a time to champion the brand’s big successes and plans for the future. And Subway has indeed celebrated its 50th anniversary this year; “Customer Appreciation Day” promotions around the world offered guests a a buy-one-get-one deal, while the company also earned a Guinness World Record in August for “Most people making sandwiches simultaneously,” a feat it accomplished in Las Vegas during the brand’s annual convention.

    But a cloud has also hung over Subway, as sales performance has been down (the company’s system-wide sales dropped some $800 million between 2013 and 2014) and a scandal involving former spokesman Jared Fogle has plagued the company in recent months.