America’s favorite burger-slinging family—the Belchers—returns tonight with the season six premiere of Bob’s Burgers. Created by Loren Bouchard, of Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist and Home Movies fame, Bob’s Burgers follows Bob and Linda Belcher and their three rambunctious children (Tina, Gene, and Louise) as they struggle to run the family’s hamburger joint.
Much like the early days of its fellow animated series Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers has earned its place in Fox’s “Sunday Funday” lineup not through breakout ratings, but with the unwavering support of its dedicated fan base. Like Bouchard’s previous work, Bob’s Burgers has already amassed a large cult following, thanks in part to the show’s memorable catchphrases (can’t you just hear Tina’s groan or Linda’s “Alright” in your head?), its ridiculous (yet hilariously catchy) tunes, and its many, many guest stars (Jon Hamm as a talking toilet? C’mon, you can’t beat that!).
Here are 10 beefy facts about Bob’s Burgers and the ways in which it has ingrained itself in today’s pop culture.
1. THE ORIGINAL CONCEPT FOR THE SHOW WAS MUCH DARKER.
When Bouchard first pitched the idea of Bob’s Burgers to Fox, he had a slightly different vision for the family that fans know and love today. He imagined the Belchers as cannibals, with their restaurant serving as a cover for their dietary habits. “There was a brief period when I first started talking to [the network executives]—because I was coming off of doing Lucy: Daughter Of The Devil and I had this kind of more occult-y, sort of darker edge to the way I was thinking then,” Bouchard told The A.V. Club. “I did pitch the show [as] a family of cannibals who runs a restaurant. There’s sort of a Sweeney Todd aspect to it.” While the network chose to steer Bouchard away from the cannibalism concept, he did incorporate that idea into the pilot episode in the form of Louise spreading a rumor that the family’s burgers were, in fact, made of human flesh.
2. TINA WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A BOY.
In Bouchard’s original pitch, the eldest Belcher child was actually going to be a boy named Daniel, voiced by stand-up comedian Dan Mintz. Much like Tina, Daniel was a socially awkward, sexually confused 13-year-old. But the network didn’t think that Daniel stood out enough from the other two Belcher children, so Bouchard decided to see what would happen if he switched the character’s gender. Mintz spoke to The Frame about his fear of being fired after hearing of Bouchard’s decision to change Daniel to Tina: “I remember getting this call from Loren … I didn't answer it. He never calls me, it's always my agent or his assistant. This probably means he's calling to say I'm being re-cast. Finally I call back and he said, 'We're changing your character to a girl, but we want you to play it.’ I was like, ‘Well I can't do a girl's voice, really.’ He said, ‘Oh, it's OK, just do your own voice.’ I was very skeptical that would work, but then they sent me the actual Tina being animated with the voice ... and I was like, ‘Oh, wow, this actually works.’”
3. THE VOICE ACTORS RECORD THEIR LINES TOGETHER.
While most animated shows record each voice actor individually (for convenience with scheduling and the ability to mix different takes together), Bouchard insists on the Bob’s Burgers cast meeting together as a group to record their lines. While scheduling can become complicated with half the crew recording in New York and the other half in Los Angeles, Bouchard stands by this method as it allows for the realistic back-and-forth between characters for which the show has become known. “It’s a little like herding wild animals, but in a good way,” Bouchard told Splitsider of managing such a talented and energetic cast during recording sessions.
4. JOHN ROBERTS WAS CAST AS THE VOICE OF LINDA BECAUSE OF HIS YOUTUBE VIDEOS.
John Roberts is the only actor from the main cast who doesn’t use his normal speaking voice to bring his character to life. Instead, the nasally, East Coast whine he uses for Linda is actually an imitation of his own mother. Prior to Bob’s Burgers, Roberts filmed several comedy sketches in which he parodied his overly dramatic mother, wig and all. After uploading the videos to YouTube, his sketches “My Son is Gay” and “The Christmas Tree” soon went viral. These hits caught the attention of Bouchard, who asked Roberts to lend his “mother” voice to Linda.
5. FANS EAGERLY AWAIT EACH WEEK’S OPENING CREDITS.
Much like The Simpsons’s “Couch Gag,” Bob’s Burgers's opening credits have a unique element each week. While the opening credits always feature the Belchers standing in front of their restaurant, the building next door sees a new tenant with each new episode (but only for the opening, as the building remains vacant during the actual episode). Some of the businesses that have been featured in the opening credits include “Magnum G.I., Colonoscopies,” “Talk To The Hand, Glove Store,” and “Quilty As Charged, Quilt Shop.”
Beginning in season two, a second changing element was added to the opening credits: the name of the exterminator on the van that pulls up. Yes, all those businesses have pest-related puns for names.
6. THE “BURGER OF THE DAY” SPECIAL CHANGES WEEKLY, TOO.
Each week, there’s a new “Burger of the Day” special at the restaurant, which can be seen on the chalkboard above the restaurant’s register. Usually it’s a play on words of the included ingredients. More as a treat to the fans than an element to the story, eagle-eyed viewers watch closely for the chalkboard, as it is often shown only briefly and is very rarely acknowledged by the characters.
7. A BOB’S BURGERS COOKBOOK IS COMING SOON.
With the list of “Burger of the Day” specials growing with each new episode, fans have begun to wonder, “How do the burgers actually taste?” One fan, Cole Bowden, took it upon himself to provide an answer. An engineer for Honda, Bowden traded in his tools for a spatula as he set out to create recipes that could live up to their “Burger of the Day” namesakes. Posting his concoctions online, fans soon flocked to his blog in order to get a taste of a Bob’s-inspired burger.
Bouchard, a fan of Bowden’s blog from its inception, happily obliged Bowden when he emailed a request to be privy to the forthcoming “Burger of the Day” specials. With this knowledge, Bowden is able to create the “Burger of the Day” recipe in advance, and perfect it in time for each new episode’s release.
Taking it a step further, Bouchard and Bowden decided to partner up for an official Bob’s Burgers cookbook. Set to hit shelves on March 22, 2016, the cookbook will contain Bowden’s recipes accompanied by illustrations from Bouchard. As for what Bouchard thinks of Bowden’s burgers? As it turns out, Bouchard’s wife and children are vegetarian, so he hasn’t had an opportunity to try them yet.
8. THE BELCHERS’S ADVENTURES NOW CONTINUE IN PRINT.
What was at first intended as a one-off miniseries, the success of the five-issue first run of Bob’s Burgers comic books led to the decision to continue the Belchers’s adventures in an ongoing series. Released monthly, the Bob’s Burgers comic books are written and illustrated by the show’s staff, which allows for a seamless transition from television screen to comic book panel. Check out a preview of Bob’s Burgers #1 as featured in mental_floss’s “Most Interesting Comics of the Week.”
9. THERE’S A BOB’S BURGERS/ARCHER CROSSOVER.
Given the immense popularity of both Bob’s Burgers and Archer—and the fact that both titular characters are voiced by H. Jon Benjamin (who uses his signature speaking voice for both)—it is no surprise that there was a Bob’s Burgers/Archer crossover.
The season four premiere of Archer finds Sterling Archer in a fugue state believing he is actually Bob, owner of Bob’s Burgers. It isn’t until an attack in the restaurant by the KGB that Archer starts to “awaken” once again, deciding to leave Linda (guest voiced by John Roberts), the kids, and his burger-flipping days behind for good.
10. THERE’S ALSO A BOB’S BURGERS PORNO.
Nothing illustrates the significance of your contributions to pop culture better than having a porn parody made of your work. This is exactly what happened for Bob’s Burgers in 2014 when a 31-minute adult film version of the series was released, which finds Bob and Linda struggling to decide upon a fitting “Burger of the Day” special for when the “Adult Erotic Con Biz Show” hits town.
Behind Bob’s Burgers