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Old 03-03-2007, 04:48 PM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Your earliest "brand name" fast foods?

If you're anything like I was (and unless you're over 50 I doubt you are) there was a period in your life when hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, barbecue, pizza, and whatever ethnic foods like Chinese, Mexican, Mediterranean or whatever, were only available at cafes, grills, restaurants, etc. Only later on did specialty chains have branded burgers and such.

Krystal was one of the first burger places where I lived. Then KFC chicken. Later on, McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Popeye's and dozens to hundreds of specialty places for fast food popped up on virtually every block and at every major intersection. Nowadays there are specialty gyros and fish and taco and sushi shops all over.

Think back to your first such "brand name" eatery. What was it? Is it still around? Was it any good?

I read today that the original Wendy's in Ohio is closing with some measure of fanfare. It got me thinking how relatively recent the whole chain concept has been around.

Had it all happened before you got here? Can you remember days before it happened?
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Old 03-03-2007, 05:02 PM
Labdad Labdad is offline
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The original Waffle House was in the little suburb of Atlanta I grew up in: Avondale Estates, GA. I believe it opened in 1955. And, like Zeldar, I don't remember life without Krystal. The other franchises came later to our area. I'm pretty sure the first was a Burger King, opening around 1964.
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Old 03-03-2007, 05:08 PM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Labdad
The original Waffle House was in the little suburb of Atlanta I grew up in: Avondale Estates, GA. I believe it opened in 1955. And, like Zeldar, I don't remember life without Krystal. The other franchises came later to our area. I'm pretty sure the first was a Burger King, opening around 1964.
Do you remember Toddle House? About the size of a semi truck body. No booths. Everybody sat at the counter. Later became Huddle House around here or just went away.

Before McDonald's there was Shoney's Big Boy in these parts, but they were more of a restaurant concept with all sorts of offerings. The Big Boy burger had all the trimmings that Big Mac did, but was at least five years ahead of the curve.
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Old 03-03-2007, 05:11 PM
norinew norinew is offline
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I think my very first fast-food experience was at a now-expired chain called Gino's. I don't know exactly when they died, but they were still in business long-abouts 20 years ago or so.

Just FTR, I'm 45, and grew up in a suburb of Baltimore, MD
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Old 03-03-2007, 05:14 PM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norinew
I think my very first fast-food experience was at a now-expired chain called Gino's. I don't know exactly when they died, but they were still in business long-abouts 20 years ago or so.

Just FTR, I'm 45, and grew up in a suburb of Baltimore, MD
Not the Gino's pizza rolls outfit by any chance? What were there main items? I can't recall any Gino's (in a chain sort of way) in the South. No doubt there were Gino's Italian restaurants all over, but not what I'd call a "fast food" place.
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Old 03-03-2007, 05:21 PM
norinew norinew is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeldar
Not the Gino's pizza rolls outfit by any chance? What were there main items? I can't recall any Gino's (in a chain sort of way) in the South. No doubt there were Gino's Italian restaurants all over, but not what I'd call a "fast food" place.
No, not the pizza rolls. This was a chain started by some football player or something (I'm not a sport's fan). They sold burgers, fries, Coke. Sometime in the mid-70s or so, they decided to try and salvage a sinking ship by getting "hip", which meant everything they sold had the name of said item/object emblazoned on it. Hence, the paper wrapper around your straw, actually said "STRAW". It was completely surreal.
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Old 03-03-2007, 05:39 PM
dangermom dangermom is offline
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Foster's Freeze. My dad used to take us there for soft ice cream with that chocolate coating. MMmmmm. They knew him there and called him Mac for unfathomable reasons.

Burger King and McDonalds existed, of course, but not on my radar so much. My parents considered it far too expensive to take 4 kids out for fast food. Once when the power went out all day, my mom finally caved and took us to Burger King, only to discover that the entire city was out and the place was closed. Oh, and when I was 5, I went to a birthday party at McDonalds, and squeezed a ketchup packet too hard, and it exploded into my eye. Ow.
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Old 03-03-2007, 06:54 PM
Emily Litella Emily Litella is offline
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The mayor owned the local diner in the town where I grew up so we didn't have any fast food places, not until he left office. I remember a Burger King in Journal Square in Jersey City around 1973, it was the first fast food place I went to, great fries, great shakes. I used to pass the White Castle on the way to the square.

I'm curious if anyone remembers Zum Zums? They had German style fast food that was around in the mid '70s too. There was one somewhere in Greenwich Village and one in the Willowbrook Mall in NJ. I miss their mustards, they had sweet and hot.
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Old 03-03-2007, 08:02 PM
VernWinterbottom VernWinterbottom is offline
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Does Howard Johnson's count as "fast food"? If so that's one of the early places I remember. How about the lunch counters at places like Woolworth's or Kresge's?

I'm pretty sure the first burger franchise to hit our area was Howdy Beef Burger in the sixties with two locations nearby. Our town had an A&W before it ever had a McDonald's.
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Old 03-03-2007, 09:51 PM
commasense commasense is offline
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norinew, you may be interested in this site. Gino's was named for Baltimore Colt captain Gino Marchetti. The chain was bought up by Marriott's in 1982, and most sites converted to Roy Rogers or KFC. So it's been more like 25 years since the last Gino's closed.

Do you remember Ameche's? There weren't anywhere near as many Ameche's as Gino's. My family lived in Towson, and the one nearest to us was at Loch Raven Blvd. and Hillen Ave. It was a drive-in, where they served you in your car with a tray that hung on the window, like in American Grafitti.

It wasn't until I saw the Web site in my link above that I realized that founder Alan Ameche was involved in Gino's, too. I had thought they were competitors.

Both chains had a double-deck hamburger like the Big Mac, but both were much better than today's Big Mac. Ameche's was called the Powerhouse, and Gino's was the Giant.
  #11  
Old 03-03-2007, 10:12 PM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Before my personal kiddie world had McDonalds or Burger King, it had Burger Chef. The Burger Chef and Jeff! Even now when I hear the words "happy meal", I think of Burger Chef before McDonalds.

Last edited by jayjay; 03-03-2007 at 10:15 PM.
  #12  
Old 03-03-2007, 10:20 PM
VernWinterbottom VernWinterbottom is offline
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We had Burger Chef before Burger King, since the latter is now at the same location as the former, I still confuse the names once in a while.

We also had Mr. Donut before Dunkin' Donuts.

My town seemed to get all the second stringers first. . .
  #13  
Old 03-03-2007, 10:32 PM
Eliahna Eliahna is offline
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McDonalds opened in the next town over circa 1983 (I remember my aunt got "food poisoning" there, which turned out to be morning sickness and so I know it was around in early 1984). We got our own McDonalds in my town around 1987, when the plaza (shopping mall) opened.

I have dim and distant memories of a place called Ollie's Trolley which must date back to around the same time as the first local McDonalds. I think they were on the site now occupied by KFC in another nearby town.
  #14  
Old 03-03-2007, 10:33 PM
Antigen Antigen is offline
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Definitely McDonald's. There was one fairly close to home, and my grandparents used to take me there for a happy meal now and then. I don't remember what my first ever happy meal toy was, though. I seem to remember a plastic baggie with some Legos in it, and a picture telling me what I could make with them, but that was at least twenty years ago.

I'm 26, grew up in a suburb of Montreal. We had a Dunkin' Donuts nearby too, and a "La Belle Province" hot dog place (a Quebec thing), but I don't think many other fast food places existed in my little patch of suburbia until a little later, maybe early 90's.
  #15  
Old 03-03-2007, 11:24 PM
Stinkum Stinkum is offline
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Howard Johnson's, if that qualifies as fast food. Chain food, perhaps.

As far as "fast food," McDonald's. I think I first went there at about 10 years old. I remember I wasn't impressed.
  #16  
Old 03-03-2007, 11:25 PM
longhair75 longhair75 is offline
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It may have been just a local chain, but we had a bunch of fast food burger stands called "Henry's" We also had a neighborhood place called "Mac's" that predated the Macdonald's empire. Mac had a big burger called the Big Mac, and he had teh forsight to trademark it. When Macdonalds started selling their Big Mac, Mac sued them and won. With the cash settlement, he remodled his burger stand into a bigger place with tables inside, then retired and turned it over to his kids. The quality took a dive in a year or so, and the place went bust a few years later.
  #17  
Old 03-03-2007, 11:27 PM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
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I remember a hamburger-type place opening not far from my home when I was child. It was called Hardies, or possibly Hardy's. A forerunner of McDonald's I suppose. It's long since bitten the dust.
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Old 03-04-2007, 12:52 AM
fiddlesticks fiddlesticks is offline
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There is a picture of me when I was about 3 years old sitting at the kitchen table eating a McDonalds hamburger and a small fries. Not a Happy Meal though, those weren't introduced until 1979 and this picture was taken in approximately 1977.

Burger King didn't arrive in town until about 1980...my first memory of them were Empire Strikes Back trading cards.

A "forgotten" chain that was in my town in the 70s was called Mars. Their building eventually became the local Hardee's in the 80s. The chain has pretty much been lost to history. I brought up the chain in this thread back in 2004 and only a fellow northeastern Wisconsin person remembered it.
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Old 03-04-2007, 01:50 AM
Darryl Lict Darryl Lict is offline
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OK, this is the order that my brain thinks I was introduced to fast food.

McDonalds, before the Big Mac was introduced (before 1968).

Der Wienerschitzel (it was on the way home from Jr. High School). I seem to recall you could get a Chili Dog for 25 cents.

In 'N' Out. I was eating Double Doubles around !970, you n00bies!

Taco Bell (I think tacos were 25 cents).

Tommy's, around 1972.

Bob's Big Boy. It actually was my high school hangout. How American cliché is that?
  #20  
Old 03-04-2007, 09:37 AM
norinew norinew is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commasense
norinew, you may be interested in this site. Gino's was named for Baltimore Colt captain Gino Marchetti. The chain was bought up by Marriott's in 1982, and most sites converted to Roy Rogers or KFC. So it's been more like 25 years since the last Gino's closed.
Hey, thanks! Don't pay any attention to anything I say about how long ago something happened. I'm calendar challenged.
  #21  
Old 03-04-2007, 02:27 PM
Who_me? Who_me? is offline
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My first fast food was McDonald's in about 1963, a Red Barn opened next door to the McDonald's a year later.
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Old 03-04-2007, 03:22 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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This town was relatively franchise-free until the late 60s, when a McDonald's raised its greasy head. That said, there were two outlets for chain food, and you had to go some to get to them. The first was an A&W drive-in, which was worth the trip for the root beer. The other, which was my first taste of fast food, was a Dairy Queen, incomprehensibly located about 15 miles outside of Anchorage in a one-horse wide spot in the road where my brother lived. Seriously, the place boasted some trailers and some houses like my brother's that had no running water, a gas station and the aforementioned DQ. I used to spend summers at his place and would live for when I would have enough change to go up there and get a cone. This would have been in the very early 60s. The most expensive cone they had was a huge swirl that looked to be a foot high and it cost the huge sum of $.50. I had one once.
  #23  
Old 03-04-2007, 03:37 PM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy
This town was relatively franchise-free until the late 60s, when a McDonald's raised its greasy head. That said, there were two outlets for chain food, and you had to go some to get to them. The first was an A&W drive-in, which was worth the trip for the root beer. The other, which was my first taste of fast food, was a Dairy Queen, incomprehensibly located about 15 miles outside of Anchorage in a one-horse wide spot in the road where my brother lived. Seriously, the place boasted some trailers and some houses like my brother's that had no running water, a gas station and the aforementioned DQ. I used to spend summers at his place and would live for when I would have enough change to go up there and get a cone. This would have been in the very early 60s. The most expensive cone they had was a huge swirl that looked to be a foot high and it cost the huge sum of $.50. I had one once.
I had forgotten Dairy Queen, maybe because I think of it more for the diary stuff than the "fast food" component of what they serve. But I remember DQ's in Alabama as far back as the 50's. Foot long hot dogs were what we usually got there in the way of food, but pints of "hard frozen vanilla" and Dilly bars, not to mention all the various cones and flavors were the main reasons to go there.

Also, root beer places in those days included a "Dog n' Suds" where again it was hot dogs more than burgers and other stuff. I'm having trouble placing a franchise burger outfit that far back in time in that area. Burgers were still a grill/cafe/restaurant item peculiar to the place and subject to variation from visit to visit. There were indeed places better known for their burgers, but they were one-off types of places. Greasy spoons mostly. Except for Krystal. I didn't know about White Castle until the 80's.
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Old 03-04-2007, 04:21 PM
AuntiePam AuntiePam is offline
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A&W drive-in here too, probably in the early 60's. The carhops didn't wear roller skates, but we thought it was pretty cool anyway. The root beer floats were awesome, and they made a good fish sandwich. It was my first taste of tartar sauce and I felt like quite the sophisticate.
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Old 03-04-2007, 08:51 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Man, I really miss the old joint out on the highway called "Charco-Burger". It was the real deal flame-broiled fresh burger, juicy, hot and tasty. Secret Sauce would run down your arm and drip off your elbow. And a basket of fries big enough for three people. McD's ran them out of business, of course.
  #26  
Old 03-04-2007, 10:44 PM
SmartAleq SmartAleq is offline
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First fast food I remember distinctly was A&W, early '60s. We'd go to Lake Shasta every year, driving up Highway 99 (because I-5 wasn't built yet--gods, I'm old!) in the searing heat, three kids and a huge German Shepherd in the back seat of the Olds, towing a boat. We'd stop at the A&W and the carhops would bring out the food--the whole Burger Family thing and those icy cold frosted mugs of root beer that'd give you a brain freeze if you drank it too fast. No ice, never, that was blasphemy--just an icy mug and maybe a slug of soft serve vanilla if the 'rents were feeling generous. There are still a few A&Ws around, but the root beer is nothing like it used to be, dammit.

Foster's Freeze and Dairy Queen were definitely around when I was a youngun. I never liked them much because I didn't really like vanilla ice cream and they didn't do any chocolate. Then came Taco Bell, back when there were only 8 or so items served and they were listed on individual placards above the cashier with a picture of each item and a phonetic pronunciation guide--"TAH-co," "burr-EE-toh," and so on, the only one that didn't explain how to pronounce it was the Bell Beefer, which I guess was a taco meat hamburger type thing--I never ate one. As I recall, the first time I noticed the prices every item was $.18!

I remember .15 single Baskin-Robbins cones, too.

Oh, Chicken Delite was a biggy when I was little, the whole "Don't cook tonight, call Chicken Delite!" thing and having the guy bring the food to the house. As I recall, it was much better chicken than KFC had when they finally showed up. Pizza was from the original (downtown Sacramento) Shakey's, not fast food but they had the player piano and the guy's in striped shirts and we just thought it was the bomb. First song I ever played on a table jukebox was "Windy" by the Association, at a Shakey's in San Rafael.

Wow, nostalgia for defunct fast food chains, I must be sleep deprived!
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