In the late 1990s, Wendy’s was an official sponsor of the NHL. That was a somewhat appropriate endorsement matchup, given that hockey is the “fourth sport” in the U.S., while Wendy’s is the U.S.’s third-largest hamburger chain. Thomas, who appeared in over 800 Wendy’s commercials, starred in two hockey-themed ads in 1999.
In the first commercial, Thomas gets a crash course in hockey, with a little help from Rangers goalie Mike Richter.
Nice goal, eh?
In the next commercial, Thomas and Ricther enjoy lunch while Thomas shares a tale from his childhood.
Well, we did win that Stanley Cup.
During the 1999 NHL All-Star Fanfest in Tampa, Florida, Topps issued this card, which shows the hamburger magnate
Photoshopped decked out in goalie gear. It is very similar in design to the 1998-99 Topps Hockey set, but uses silver/gray borders instead of gold borders. At the bottom is a facsimile autograph.
The back of Thomas’ card is also very similar to the 1998-99 Topps Hockey cards, in both layout and typography.
Both Thomas’ jersey number and the card’s number on the back is the never-flattering 00. Fitting, given Thomas’ penchant for playing the lovable, well-meaning doofus in his own commercials. Interestingly, the back lists his name as “R. David Thomas,” since his first name was Rex. Under his name is the following biography:
BIRTHDATE: July 2, 1932
HOMETOWN: Atlantic City, NJ
FAVORITE WENDY’S MEAL: Classic Single hamburger with cheese, mustard, pickle and onion with Chili Fries, a Frosty and a Diet Coke!
Dave Thomas started his restaurant career at age 12, but he’s now recognized as a television spokesman and America’s favorite hamburger cook. He’s received every major industry honor and countless Entrepreneur Awards. The adoption community has also honored Dave for his work for children. In 1993, he earned his GED certificate and received his high school diploma. He was voted Most Likely to Succeed by his graduating class.
Sideways underneath Thomas’ portrait is a bit of trivia:
Test Your Wendy’s I.Q.:
Why are Wendy’s hamburgers square?
Answer: Because at Wendy’s, we never cut corners.
Sigh. And, if you must know, Thomas decided to make Wendy’s burgers square because a restaurant he liked during his childhood also served square burgers.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■