Boricua Burger: The Puerto Rican ‘Accident’ Behind Burger King’s Whopper Jr.
If you ever find yourself craving a juicy, mouthwatering burger, chances are, you’ve cashed-in on Burger King’s Whopper Jr. Otherwise known as the original Whopper’s little cousin.
As reported by Primera Hora, Cuban immigrant Luis Arenas Pérez invented the Whopper Jr. in Burger King’s Carolina, Puerto Rico, location in 1963. Incredibly, though, the late Arenas Pérez never would have invented the iconic burger if it had not been for a major production delay. Yes, an “accident” technically led to the small-but-mighty burger’s creation. We’ll explain.
Cuban immigrant Luis Arenas Pérez invented the Whopper Jr. in Burger King’s Carolina, Puerto Rico location
As mentioned in Chente Ydrach’s podcast “Dame La Verde” (minute 49:30), the Whopper Jr. was invented in Puerto Rico. And as the podcast hilariously points at, this might just have sparked the Boricua classic nickname “Junito.”
Ydrach, as well as co-hosts Goodwin Aldarondo and Auudi, go into the fun fact on the episode, which we ten-out-of-ten recommend for a laugh. Apparently, Arenas Pérez created the Whopper Jr. “by accident,” which led Burger King to eventually induct him into their Hall of Fame.
As per Primera Hora, Arenas Pérez was the president of Caribbean Restaurants, which oversaw Burger King in Puerto Rico. Upon his passing in 2015, the outlet reported that Arenas Pérez worked in the fast food chain’s operations for much of his life.
The Cuban businessman studied in Havana, Cuba, before moving to the United States in 1961. He worked for Chase Manhattan Bank for some period, and later worked for Burger King in Miami, Florida.
Shortly after, Arenas Pérez moved to Puerto Rico to launch Burger King’s first location there, opening in Carolina. Heading the special 1963 opening, Arenas Pérez became Burger King’s first ever employee in Puerto Rico.
One issue, though? While Burger King’s Puerto Rico unveiling must have been very exciting, Arenas Pérez found himself in quite the pickle. On the day of the Carolina location’s grand opening, the restaurant had still not received baking molds to make the original Whopper’s buns.
Was Arenas Pérez about to succumb to adversity, though? Not a chance. As outlined by TikToker Dean Huertas, the businessman bought “smaller buns from local bakeries” to pair with the rest of the OG Whopper’s ingredients. The result? A smaller Whopper — A.K.A., the “Whopper Jr.” The more you know!
Following the Whopper Jr.’s popularity in Puerto Rico, Burger King decided to expand on the idea. Today, the company offers the menu item in restaurants worldwide.
Arenas Pérez kept working for Burger King until his final days. And by 2008, the corporation made him the first Latino inducted to their Hall of Fame.