Wendy Thomas
Wendy Thomas of Wendy
Thomas in 2016
Melinda Lou Thomas

(1961-09-14) September 14, 1961 (age 61)
Alma materUniversity of Florida[1]
EmployerThe Wendy's Company
Known forNamesake of Wendy's hamburger chain
SpousePaul Morse
Parent(s)Dave Thomas
Lorraine Thomas

Melinda Lou "Wendy" Thomas-Morse (born September 14, 1961) is a daughter of American businessman Dave Thomas, the founder of the fast food brand Wendy's. Morse is the namesake and mascot of the brand. She uses the name Wendy Thomas in her role as a spokesperson for Wendy's.

Early life and education

Thomas was born in Columbus, Ohio, grew up in Upper Arlington,[2] and is the fourth child of Dave and Lorraine Thomas.

As a child, Melinda was unable to pronounce her L's and R's, struggling with her own name Melinda, and so became known by her nickname Wendy (with the pen-pin merger). Then 8-year-old Melinda would eventually become the namesake of her father's restaurant Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers, or just "Wendy's" for short.[3] In addition to being the namesake, her likeness was used as the Wendy's logo in the form of a young freckle-faced girl in red braids.[4][5] Morse graduated from the University of Florida in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in consumer behaviorism.[6]


Morse owned several Wendy's restaurants near Dallas, Texas until 1999.[7] After the death of her father Dave Thomas in 2002, Morse and her siblings bought restaurants in her native Columbus area. As of September 2010, Morse herself owned or co-owned more than 30 Wendy's stores.[8] In November 2010, she began appearing in Wendy ads on camera for the first time.[9][10] (Her voice was featured in a 1989 ad giving her father advice from off-camera.)[3] The 2010 ads aired first in Las Vegas, Nevada; Mobile, Alabama; and Virginia Beach, Virginia; test markets before being rolled out nationally.[11]

Since April 2012, she has starred in a series of ads for Wendy's called That Wendy's Way, reinforcing the quality values in ingredients, preparation and service her father established.[12][13] She also appeared in the 'Dave's Hot 'N Juicy Cheeseburger' commercial produced by Publicis Groupe's Kaplan Thaler Group.[11][14]


  1. ^ Kirkland, Gary (April 30, 2007). "Fast food Gator: Wendy Thomas is proud of her UF connection". Gainesville Sun. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  2. ^ "Notable People of Upper Arlington". Retrieved 2022-01-03.
  3. ^ a b "After 20 Years of Fame, Wendy Thomas Still Relishes Being on a Roll". People. January 15, 1990. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
  4. ^ "The family way figures big in commercial campaigns". The Milwaukee Journal. Los Angeles Times News Service. September 24, 1989. pp. 1D, 6D. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
  5. ^ "Dave Thomas: Made to Order". Biography on CNBC. December 8, 1998. CNBC. Re-run on January 31, 2010.
  6. ^ KIRKLAND, GARY. "Fast food Gator: Wendy Thomas is proud of her UF connection". Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  7. ^ Englert, Gianna. "Woman on Top: Melinda Lou 'Wendy' Thomas". Capitalist Chicks. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
  8. ^ Lukovitz, Karlene (November 9, 2010). "Grown-Up Wendy Stars In Wendy's TV Spots". Marketing Daily. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
  9. ^ Kiefaber, David (November 12, 2010). "Wendy Thomas starring in first Wendy's ads". Adweek. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
  10. ^ Finnegan, Amanda (November 5, 2010). "Las Vegas to serve as test market for Wendy's burger line; Ad campaign next week will feature daughter of founder Dave Thomas". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
  11. ^ a b Morrison, Maureen (November 12, 2010). "Real Wendy Takes Star Turn in Wendy's Advertising". Advertising Age. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
  12. ^ "New Advertising Campaign Reveals Why "Wendy's Way" has High Quality Ingredients, Fresh Preparation". The Wendy's Company (Press release). April 27, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  13. ^ Morrison, Maureen (April 27, 2012). "Why Wendy's Needs Two Redheads to Push Burgers". Advertising Age. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  14. ^ Elliott, Stuart (September 25, 2011). "After 27 Years, an Answer to the Question, 'Where's the Beef?'". The New York Times. Retrieved July 11, 2014.

Further reading