Going Back in Time to When Fast Food was Just Averagely Quick
Growing up in the middle of England during the 1970s, there wasn’t a lot of choice if we teens wanted a hot snack. Even finding an Indian or Chinese restaurant was tough. I think that there was just one of each in the town whose population wavered around the 150000 mark – about the size of Salem, Oregon.
But head up the town’s main shopping street and there, near the top, was the one place you could get your burger. Wimpy. I recall it well, yellow formica table tops, masses of desserts (banana and chocolate ice cream with something claiming to be a sweet waffle sticks in the mind) listed on plastic covered menu sheets, burger (I suspect named as ‘ham’ burger) – with cheese or without. My personal favorite was the hot dog, although the bun was always just a bit too dry and the sausage over flavored. But the bright yellow mustard made us think that we were on the set of “Starsky and Hutch”.
Sadly, for nostalgic if not taste reasons, the in-rush of chains such as McDonalds and Burger King led to the demise of the Wimpy Burger.
But what about these American Fast Food purveyors of yesteryear? You won’t find most of them now anywhere except in the sepia tinged minds of baby boomers and beyond. And I bet the memory of them is treasured.
Built on the concept of speed – the chain claimed to produce burgers faster than its more famous rival with the yellow arches, Burger Chef also introduced the idea of the toy with a meal, calling it the “Fun Meal”. At its zenith in the early ‘70s, with 1200 restaurants, it was the second biggest fast food chain in the land. But, it grew too quickly and collapsed in the 1980s.
Like many big businesses, it seems as though a failure to spot trends led to the demise of this fast food giant, although a couple of restaurants do remain. From its boom in the 1970s, it fell victim to the popularity of take away fast food, remaining a sit-down provider.
MINNIE PEARL’S CHICKEN
One of the best names in foodie history, this chain was, for a short time, a proper competitor to KFC. However, a lack of consistency in its meals led to problems as more franchises opened, and the brand lost its identity in the competitive market.
KENNY ROGERS’ ROASTERS
Despite appearing in a classic Seinfeld episode, this group, with its focus on spit roasted chicken, couldn’t sustain its place in the busy field, but has become well established across Asia.
With its trademark meal of hot dog and steamed beer, this chain once had 400 venues across the country.
Opening in 1889, Childs was one of those restaurants which laid the base for what we can find today. Peaking in popularity in the 1930s, a push on vegetarian dishes saw it start to lose popularity, and although you cannot find it today, it was taken over by the company behind such major names as KFC and Pizza Hut.