One of the most unlikely recurring features of The CW's Arrowverse is Big Belly Burger, a fast food burger joint that helps fuel the DCTV superheroes with less-than-healthy fare as they defend their respective cities. While it might seem like a running gag, the fictional restaurant chain predates the Arrowverse by decades in the comic book DC Universe.
BIG BELLY BURGER'S BEGINNINGS
Big Belly Burger was first created by John Byrne and Jerry Ordway in 1988's Adventures of Superman #441 as a restaurant chain owned by LexCorp. Reputedly establed one of the biggest fast food chains in the DC Universe, the popular restaurant offered a selection milkshakes, fries, and, of course, burgers including its signature meal, the Belly Buster. Similar to its rumored inspiration, Bob's Big Boy, Big Belly Burger's mascot was a red-haired man sporting a beard and glasses, claimed by Byrne to be based off comic book writer and editor Andy Helfer.
During the New 52 era, the fast food chain came back into the prominence in the DC Universe thanks to its live-action debut on the Arrowverse. Its origins were then revealed to have been founded in Coast City some time during the 1950s. Whether the chain is still owned by LexCorp during the New 52 and DC Rebirth eras is currently unknown.
BIG BELLY BURGER IN THE COMIC BOOK DC UNIVERSE
In addition to the appearing in the background throughout many DC Comics titles, including Superman and The Flash, Big Belly Burger has played a surprising role in the DCU. Corporate-minded superhero Booster Gold had included the fast food chain among his many sponsors and could seen in ads promoting the restaurant. Other major DC characters that have since publicly endorsed the fast food joint include Jimmy Olsen and Perry White, who appeared in a series of ads for the chain.
Jimmy would later remeber that the first time he and Clark Kent spent time together outside of the Daily Planet offices was at a Big Belly Burger, and Superman himself once face a version of the restaurant's mascot temporarily brought to life by Mister Mxyzptlk in the chain's first appearance. A few DC characters even worked at Big Belly Burger for a time, including Will Payton, the hero Starman, Will Payton, and the exiled Monitor Nix Uotan during the events of the comic book crossover Final Crisis.
Big Belly Burger in Arrow
Big Belly Burger would make its live-action debut in the third episode of the inaugural season of Arrow with John Diggle bringing Oliver Queen and Tommy Merlyn to a location in Starling City to recuperate after they endured a beating from a local gangster. As the workplace of Diggle's sister-in-law Carly, the location would appear regularly during the first season and sporadically in the series moving forward including where Sara Lance makes her vigilante debut in the Season 2 premiere.
The chain is also a notable favorite of Felicity Smoak and John. The two Team Arrow members have been shown eating food from the chain during meetings and stakeouts, and Felicity even posed as a Big Belly Burger delivery person as part of a plan to sneak into a building. During one of the first team-ups between Arrow and the Flash, Felicity noted that she felt comforted by the identical taste of Big Belly Burger franchises in separate cities.
BIG BELLY BURGER IN THE FLASH
The chain would also regularly appear in The Flash, starting as a background location in the series premiere. Since then, it's become a favorite dining option for Team Flash, with Barry especially relying on its high calorie menu to maintain his increased caloric intake to fuel his superhuman abilities.
Eobard Thawne would later remark that the chain was his personal favorite restaurant, since beef was no longer available during his time. Near the end of the first season, Cisco figured out that the Reverse Flash was in S.T.A.R. Labs when his orange soda started floating into the air. The Harrison Wells of Earth-2 similarly expressed a preference with Hunter Zolomon observing that every Earth in the known Multiverse has its own Big Belly Burger and requested a burger almost as soon as he arrived on Earth-1.
In 2017, the CW even created a promo centered around Big Belly Burger and the fictional chain's appearances in Arrow and The Flash. According to that ad, Big Belly Burger seemingly has a Flash-themed burger with a piece of cheese shaped like the Flash's lightning bolt symbol.
While it might not be as famous as The Simpsons' Krusty Burger or Spongebob Squarepants' Krusty Krab, Big Belly Burger is still one of the more prominent fictional fast food chains in popular culture. While it's been a part of the DC Universe for over 30 years,
Fueling the heroes of the DC Universe both in print and on television, Big Belly Burger provides not particularly healthy fast food options for characters on the go and with a sudden craving for burgers and fries. As one of the most recognized fictional restaurants in the DCU, it has seen a resurgence in popularity since its incorporation into the Arrowverse.