Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
News

Did Wendy’s Become the Accidental Neo-Nazi Happy Meal?

Fast-food giant Wendy’s may have accidentally become the happy meal of white nationalists, but the burger joint is giving them a frosty reception.

On Wednesday Wendy’s tweeted a meme of Pepe the Frog, icon of the so-called “alt-right,” recast as the company’s mascot, a red-headed girl in pigtails.

The tweet was in response to another Twitter user asking if Wendy’s had “any memes,” according to screenshots captured by NBC News’ Kyle Griffin.

The meme disappeared quickly and Wendy’s scrambled to explain. “Our community manager was unaware of the recent evolution of the Pepe meme’s meaning and this tweet was promptly deleted,” one tweet read.

Nevertheless, white nationalists gobbled up the attention.

“Wendy’s was always my personal favorite burger joint, but I never would have declared it the official burger of the Neo-Nazi Alt-Right movement – until now,” wrote Neo-Nazi blogger Andrew Anglin on his website the Daily Stormer. “Everyone knows that Pepe is a Nazi frog.”

Pepe the Frog is a cartoon amphibian created in 2005 by the artist Matt Furie, but has become a white supremacist icon on sites like 4chan over the last decade.

The frog was a mainstay of Trump supporters in the recent U.S. presidential election. Likeness of Pepe would appear giving the Nazi salute, carrying machine guns, or outside German death camps, gassing Jews. Eventually, the Anti-Defamation League declared Pepe a hate symbol.

Prior to tweeting Pepe, Wendy’s had drawn praise for its savvy use of social media. The fast food chain is surprisingly hip, retweeting funny comments from other users with a snarky tone.

The Pepe meme may have been a misplaced appeal to newly prominent “alt-right” white nationalists, but Wendy’s is not alone.

New Balance, the only major shoe company that still makes sneakers in the U.S., became a favorite shoe of neo-Nazis in November after the company’s vice president slammed Barack Obama and heralded Trump’s election as a “move in the right direction.”

In December a casting call for a Cadillac commercial solicited an actor for an “alt-right” role. The company quickly disavowed the ad, saying it was not approved. But as with Wendy’s, neo-Nazis celebrated.

“The point is, it was natural for a major American corporation to want someone from our movement,” Anglin wrote in a post titled: “Yes, We are Mainstream Now.”

Email Sam Kestenbaum at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.