Bud Kennedy

‘Come and Get It’? McDonald’s using Texan heroism to sell burgers

McDonald’s double bacon burger is tagged “Come and Get It.”
McDonald’s double bacon burger is tagged “Come and Get It.” Handout

The “Come and Take It” flag is a symbol of Texas’ proudest moment, when Anglo immigrants’ defiance at Gonzales triggered the war for independence.

So now McDonald’s is using it to sell cheeseburgers?

Look, the Gonzales flag has taken a lot of abuse in recent years. It’s been adopted as an emblem for gun hobbyists, arguing that they have a right to tote a loaded cannon because God hisself put guns in our Constitution.

That, in turn, inspired satire, such as struggling schoolteachers’ flag with a “Come and Take It” sharpened pencil.

But now, Illinois-based McDonald’s is using it to sell a new Texas-market burger called the “Lone Star Stack.”

Ads show the burger topped with a black and white flag bearing a burger silhouette and a black Lone Star.

The message: “Come and Get It.”

The burger was designed by a Houston patron in a contest billed as “Come and Make It.”

It’s the latest in McDonald’s 20-year effort to appeal to Texas’ spicy tastes. It features double meat and cheese on Texas toast with bacon, barbecue sauce, pickles and onions.

One of several local McDonald’s franchisees, David Floyd of Mesquite, said through a marketing spokesman that the burger “showcases the true Texas spirit — a large burger with big taste and independently unique.” Texas franchisees are local owners, he said, who “take great pride in our Texas heritage.”

Since the Alamo image and slogans such as “Don’t Mess With Texas” are trademarked, I thought that surely someone at Gonzales could put a stop to all this rampant advertising abuse of the old colony’s treasured flag.

I sure wish we

Gonzales City Manager Allen Barnes

“I sure wish we had trademarked it,” said Allen Barnes, the city manager.

“Just last month, I was in a gift shop in Charleston [S.C.] and there was a T-shirt with ‘Come And Take It — Charleston.’ Look, that flag didn’t have bupkis to do with South Carolina.”

The way the story goes, Gonzales settler Sarah Seely DeWitt, then 48, and her daughter, Naomi, cut up Naomi’s wedding dress to make one of the first flags in 1835.

A Mexican army lieutenant had asked the Anglo immigrants to give back the cannon, which Mexico had given them in 1831 for protection against American Indian tribes. By 1835, the revolution was beginning, and the settlers kept the Mexican cannon, daring Mexican soldiers to come for it and killing two in a brief confrontation.

The brief confrontation over a small cannon is billed as the “Lexington of Texas.”

Historians say it wasn’t much of a battle, and the Mexican army withdrew rather than provoke tensions, but it’s billed as the “Lexington of Texas” and the first battle of the Anglos’ and Tejanos’ revolution.

“What it means to us is what it meant then — we have Texas spirit here, and you can’t take it,” Barnes said.

Both the chamber of commerce and the city sell and give away “Come and Take It” flags, and the city has an annual Come and Take It Festival with no rights fees paid to anyone.

“Our attorney researched it and said we cannot make any claim,” Barnes said.

“It’s on everything from AR-15s to wine bottles.”

Barnes said he’s a little bothered to see the town symbol used to sell burgers, “but I can’t change it.”

“Maybe it’ll draw more people to come to Gonzales and see what we have here,” he said.

The local McDonald’s is on a street named for Sarah DeWitt.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.