Fast Food Chain Name Game

Names of popular fast-food chains and their origins.

McDONALD’s. Named after two brothers who were scenery movers in Hollywood during the 1920’s–Richard and Maurice (“Mac”) McDonald. They started the first modern fast food joint in San Bernardino, California after World War II and sold out to Ray Kroc for $2.7 million in 1961.

ARBY’s. Forest and Leroy Raffel wanted to open a fast food restaurant called Big Tex, in Akron, Ohio… but someone else already owned the name. So they settled for Arby’s–R.B.’s–after the first initials of Raffel Brothers.

TACO BELL. No, it has nothing to do with mission bells. The chain was founded in 1962 by Glen W. Bell.

JACK IN THE BOX. There was a huge, square metal ventilation unit on the roof of Robert Peterson’s restaurant. It was really ugly, but he couldn’t remove it… So he covered it up instead, disguising it as a jack-in-the-box. Then he changed the name of his restaurant, making it seem as though the whole thing had been planned.

HARDEE’s. Founded by Wilbur Hardee, who opened the first Hardee’s in Greenville, North Carolina in 1960.

PIZZA HUT. Frank Carney, a 19-year-old engineering student at the University of Wichita, opened a pizza parlor in 1958 with his older brother Dan. It was in a rented, hut-shaped building with a sign that only had room for eight letters and a single space. Pizza Hut was the perfect name because it described the restaurant and fit on the sign.

DAIRY QUEEN. In 1938, Sherb Noble put together a 10¢ All-You-Can-Eat promotion for his Kankakee, Illinois store. He offered a brand new kind of “semi-frozen” ice cream called “Dairy Queen” and was dumbfounded by the public’s response–they bought 16,000 servings of it in two hours. Two years later, Noble opened a food stand that sold nothing but Dairy Queen.

WHITE CASTLE. In 1921, Walter Anderson needed money to open his fourth hamburger stand. He borrowed the money–$700–from a local real-estate and insurance salesman named Billy Ingram, who suggested that the restaurant be called the “White Castle,” symbolizing cleanliness and strength. Since it was Ingram’s money, Anderson Humored him.

KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN. “Colonel” Harlan Sanders had a restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky. His specialty was fried chicken.

WENDY’s. Dave Thomas, an executive at Kentucky Fried Chicken, decided to open his own chain of fast food restaurants in 1969. The first one was located in Columbus, Ohio. It was named for Thomas’s third daughter, Wendy.

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1 Comment

  1. martha

    Cool post! That was all very interesting! And made me want some Arby’s, haha.

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