Tuesday, March 31, 2009

DYK - Who Were Wendy and McDonald?

The origins of some fast food restaurant names are pretty obvious—Burger King wants to be known as the king of burgers. Subway sells submarine sandwiches. Pizza Hut is a hut from which one can acquire pizza. These all are common sense.

But some restaurants appear to have more story behind them than we ever take time to realize. That is why I’m here, helping you Did-You-Know your way through Tuesday.

McDonald’s – Dick and Mac McDonald (both unfortunate names) started their first restaurant in San Bernardino and did pretty well with what would eventually turn into our modern incarnation of fast food. They sold the company in 1955 to Ray Kroc, who made a killing turning McDonald’s into a global brand. Those old McDonald’s should’ve held onto their equity. They can invent fast food but can’t figure out how valuable their invention was. What a Kroc. (Get it?)

Wendy’s – Believe it or not, there actually is a red-headed girl that served as the inspiration for the Wendy’s logo we’ve all grown to know and love. Dave Thomas named the restaurant after his second daughter, Melinda Lou, who was nicknamed “Wendy.” She had been eight at the time and was not a particularly attractive young lady, no matter how cute the cartoon version may be. Must’ve really made daughter number one pissed off to have missed out on that opportunity. Unless she’s dead. Does anyone know if she’s dead?

Culver’s – Started in 1984, this restaurant and its now-famous Butterburgers were started by a guy named George Culver and his family. The original store was a renovated A&W and lost money in the first year, but eventually the food became popular and now there are franchises all over the Midwest.

Arby’s – The Raffel Brothers originally wanted to call their new non-hamburger fast food joint Big Tex, but another business in Arby’s hometown of Akron, Ohio already claimed that name. So instead they spelled out RB’s phonetically, meant to stand as the initials to both “Raffel Brothers” and “Roast Beef.” Clever, eh?

Hardee’s – Wilbur Hardee opened his first store in North Carolina in 1960. A couple of investors helped him open that store, but Hardee was still the controlling partner until he lost his share to them in a poker game. I’m absolutely not making this up. Once he realized what he did, he just sold what little stock in the restaurant he had left, and the rest is history.

So there you have it. Now you can say with confidence that you know much more about the history of fast food than you ever cared to know. And all because you’ve made yourself a regular visitor to my blog. Learning is fundamental. And know you now.

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