Ugly Sweater Party: It’s Burger King Time

It’s so bad it’s good!

When the design for the Los Angeles Kings’ Stadium Series jersey leaked last month, the uproar was instantaneous and nearly unanimous. Fans were far from pleased at the weird, uphill, ska-band-wannabe design of the whole thing.

The most popular commentary on Twitter, though? Is this worse than the Burger King jersey?

If you ask the writers here at Jewels from the Crown, the answer is a resounding no.

In preparing for this piece, I polled our staff, committing to write about whichever jersey they found the most foul and — despite the fact that I personally have embraced the terrible 90s aesthetic of the Burger King jersey — well, here I am.

The NHL began introducing third jerseys in 1996, giving the opportunities to a select few teams to create alternates. And this being the mid-90s, teams wanted to be edgy and cool and push the envelope.

Introducing: the Burger King jersey.

Is the gradient actually the worst part of this jersey? Is it the weird serif font that makes the numbers difficult to read? Is it the attempt to straddle the line between the black/grey color scheme of today and the purple/gold color scheme of yesterday? Is it the weirdly stylized King logo?

Oh, no. Is it the logo?

It might be the logo.

The cartoony nature of the logo feels like something you’d slap on a minor league team. The folks over at The Royal Half did a deep dive into the jersey a few years ago, including tracking down the original designer of the logo, who hadn’t intended for it to be quite so, uh, purple.

“Trying to design jerseys to show off a new printing technique that hadn’t been perfected while working around its limitations is difficult to say the least.” And now, even Ken’s [Loh, graphic designer] original logo had to be changed. Tom [Thornton, a designer at the Mednick Group] was told that “the Kings were a little sensitive about being a relatively old team” so the grey beard was given a youthful dye job… to purple.

Minor league teams are famous for weird mascots and logos, which seem tailor made for funny costumes, promotions, merchandise, and all of the other things that help increase the family-friendly buzz of the minors.

The logo on those Kings jerseys feels like it could be pulled off and slapped right onto the chest of a minor league ball player, and therein lies the disconnect. Fir better or worse, top tier sports leagues aren’t necessarily looking for whimsical. Look no further than the evolution of the Toronto Raptors logo, away from the charming-but-aggressive dinosaur playing basketball.

Overall, it’s the combination of all of these things — the stupid gradient, the color scheme, the minor-league style logo — that puts the Burger King jersey at the top of so many people’s lists of jersey don’ts. You can’t look at that thing and not know instantly what era it debuted in. It is a jersey that very much screams that the jersey makers were, to mangle a quote, so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.

Over time, Kings fans have embraced the Burger Kings jersey in a “so bad it’s good” way. In recent years, you’ve been able to walk into the Team LA store at Staples Center and buy hats, t-shirts, and socks emblazoned with the logo. (I may, perhaps, own all of these things.) Replica jerseys are on the market, and the Kings, Ontario Reign, and Manchester Monarchs have worn versions of the jersey on recent throwback nights. Heck, if you’ve got $1,600 to drop, you can buy an authentic autographed Gretzky Burger King jersey right now.

JFTC contributor and Crown Conversations podcast host Robyn said of the jersey and the nostalgic love for it: “Their best worst jersey (officially) is certainly the BK jersey. Listen, I love bad design that’s indicative of the era in which it was made and that jersey just screams all things 90s.”

In an era where nostalgia has been king, fans have found things to love about the jersey, but  apparently that hasn’t saved it from being the worst Kings jersey ever.

There were, of course, some honorable mentions and differences of opinions. Come back tomorrow for an essay from Dominic, who weaves in some childhood memories in telling the tale of his least favorite jersey. For more losing jerseys, keep reading.

James L.: Most Kings jerseys have been mediocre except the purple and gold. Even the Chevrolet logo of Gretzky’s time was a ripoff. The purple of Ziggy Palffy’s time looked weak. Today’s home plate jersey is stupid with a stupid logo, and I don’t understand why we can’t have a third color like the rest of the league. The gray jerseys should be standard instead.

Julius: The 1998/99-2001/02 Harry Potter-esque emblem joints. With the San Jose Sharks rocking what they’re rocking on the ice, the hockey stick cross on these sweaters are yucky because it lacks depth/detail.

Michael: The 2006-07 iteration. The purple and black just didn’t cut it. Kind of an awkward blend of trying to be edgy and chic and neither was accomplished. I never was a fan of the crown with the purple gradient. Add that to the “Los Angeles” scrolled across the bottom and you kind of had a fashion disaster that wasn’t rectified until the full conversion to Black and White.

Robyn: The Kings’ still technically unofficial stadium series jerseys against the Avs are far and away their worst jerseys ever. Those things are so ugly, the dictionary doesn’t even have a definition of “hideous”, just a photo of the jerseys. It’s worse than their super ugly stadium series jerseys from LAST time which were even uglier than their horrible boring jerseys from their FIRST outdoor game. I’m sensing a theme.