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Up for a Hot Dog Steam-Cooked in Beer?

Alas, Lum’s Restaurants, purveyors of those beer-steamed dogs is no more. A shame,too. At their peak they had 450 stores across America and threw off enough cash that the corporate owners were able to purchase Caesar’s Palace in Vegas.

That’s where the problems began. Once they acquired the resort, they sold off the Lum’s chain to the guy that was running KFC. He got the company moving in the wrong direction and then sold it to Weinerwald, which completely ran Lum’s into the ground many years ao.

Beyond the hot dogs, many of us fondly remember their hamburger, the Ollieburger. Invented by Oliver G. Gleichenhaus, a restaurateur himself, who sold his recipe to Lum’s. The burger proved popular enough that Lum’s also spun off a smaller chain of Ollie’s Trolleys that also served the burger.

If reading this has you jonesing for an Ollieburger, there is a company in Port Richey, Florida that claims to sell the original seasoning for it and other Lum’s delicacies. We have not sampled their products so we are not endorsing them, but simply making you aware. You can find them at: hosting.conquest.digital/ollieburgerspices/  

Whatever Happened to Burger Chef?

Ask anyone under 40 about a fast-food chain named Burger Chef and you’re likely to get a puzzled expression. Or maybe, if they’re a fan of the TV series Mad Men, they might recognize the name as an account Don Draper and Peggy Olsen were pitching in one of that series’ episodes.

But Baby Boomers should remember Burger Chef as the chain that was challenging McDonald’s for fast-food supremacy in the 1960’s!

The chain started in 1954 in Indianapolis, IN. Two brothers, Dave and Frank Thomas were working on a flame broil system for Burger King (another franchise that had recently started). The brothers decided not to sell their flame broiler, instead opting to go into business for themselves.

Besides flame broiling, the chain also created a couple of other innovations:

  • The “Value Combo” that included burger, fries and a drink for one, lower price
  • The “Fun Meal” with a toy for kids (Yep, just as McDonald’s ripped off Big Boy when they “created” the Big Mac, the Happy Meal was a rip-off of Burger Chef’s kids meal.)
  • The “Self-Serve Works Bar” where you could add your own toppings.

At their peak, Burger Chef had 2,400 locations across the country. So, what happened?

In 1971, the chain was sold to General Foods and that proved to be their undoing. While General Foods knew the grocery business, they didn’t really know the burger business.

General Foods actually charged their franchisees too little in royalties. That left them underfunded when it came to national advertising, marketing and developing new items for their menu.

McDonald's began adding things like salads, breakfast sandwiches and more to their menu. Burger King used their “Have It Your Way” advertising campaign to stress their ability to deliver a custom-ordered burger quickly. That helped establish them as the main alternative to Mickey D’s. So, Burger Chef moved from second to third place in most consumers’ minds.

Eventually, General Foods decided they’d had enough of the fast-food business and sold the chain to Hardee’s.

And that’s the way the burger flips!

Back When Girls Wanted to Be Flat

Or at least that's what they wanted for their hair. So, they started ironing it!

Today, of course, there are much more efficient appliances for straightening hair, but this is the way we did it back in the 1960's!

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