Sunday, June 23, 2019

D.B. Kaplan's, a legendary Chicago Restaurant and Delicatessen.

In 1976, brothers Larry and Mark Levy opened D.B. Kaplan's Delicatessen, with a third partner, on the 7th floor of Chicago's Water Tower Place at 835 North Michigan Avenue.
Eadie Levy had her work cut out for her in 1978, when her sons, Larry and Mark, called her in her native St. Louis for help. They had to. Patrons at their first restaurant, D.B. Kaplan’s deli at Water Tower Place, were making comments like, “Are you gonna kill me with that food?” The matzo balls were as hard as a new, finger-breaking, Chicago 16" Clincher softball. The chopped liver was made from beef instead of chicken.
Mrs. Levy traveled to Chicago, armed with treasured family recipes for chicken soup, potato salad and blintzes. The kitchen turnaround was dramatic. Within two weeks after my mom got there, people were saying, ‘Wow!’ This food is great. D.B. Kaplan diners couldn’t get enough of her noshes. And they loved the way she remembered their names, asked about their families and doled out advice.

Employees found they could always go to Mrs. Levy with a problem. Quietly, she did good deeds. There was a woman who struggled to keep a job, and Mrs. Levy paid for her dental reconstruction, because she thought that might be the problem.
The lively D.B. Kaplans offered more than 100 sandwich creations, all bearing groan-worthy, punny names, like the Lake Shore Chive, with roast beef and cream cheese with chives on black bread, and the Studs Turkey for radio journalist Studs Terkel, with beef tongue, hot turkey breast, Canadian bacon, cranberry sauce and shredded lettuce on French bread. National celebrities were not spared either. The Hammy Davis, Jr. was ham salad on a BLT with mayo on whole-wheat toast.

It was a more innocent, sillier and arguably more fun time for creative restaurateurs nationwide. Sadly, D.B. Kaplans closed in 1995.

The Levy brothers began their involvement in the restaurant business in Chicago, where they built the core of their foodservice business around a faltering delicatessen during the late 1970s. In the months prior to going into business together, Larry and Mark Levy had established careers independent of one another. Although both had relocated from St. Louis to Chicago, they had made the journey separately and upon arrival had begun working for different companies. Mark joined the insurance business and Larry delved into real estate, each accumulating enough financial wherewithal to jointly open a delicatessen named D.B. Kaplan's with a third partner in 1976. Initially, the business was intended to be a sideline venture for each brother. Said Larry: "I had always loved deli food and thought there was no good deli food in Chicago. I found a backer to do it, and I thought I would continue at my other company." In a matter of months, however, closer, hands-on involvement was required. The operation of the delicatessen and its 285-item menu quickly proved too much an undertaking for the Levys' third partner, prompting Larry and Mark to fire him. Mark quit his insurance job and, along with his wife, took on the responsibility of D.B. Kaplan's daily operation. Immediately afterward, according to the brothers, the delicatessen showed strong signs of improvement, transforming from a money-loser to a profitable enterprise under the direct stewardship of Mark Levy. Two years later, in 1978, Larry quit his job as well and joined his brother in the restaurant business, embarking on a career that allowed his natural talents to flower.

At an early age, Larry Levy showed himself to be an entrepreneur at heart. Before he was ten years old, Levy sold magazine subscriptions and handmade potholders door to door. During his high school years, he developed a discount card that his fellow students could use when buying merchandise from selected merchants. While attending the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University during the late 1960s, Levy shuttled through the dormitories selling sandwiches and charter airline tickets to Europe, making extra money while he earned his M.B.A. degree. "I've always been an entrepreneur," Levy explained years after D.B. Kaplan's success spawned a small empire of restaurant properties. "When I found the restaurant business," he said, "my entrepreneurial skills met passion. It's something I truly love doing."

After Levy left his real estate job in 1978, he and his brother formed Levy Restaurants and the Levy Organization, a commercial real estate company. With the establishment of these two companies, the corporate vehicles for expansion were in place, but the success of the delicatessen did not give birth to a chain of D.B. Kaplan clones. Instead, the two brothers developed new restaurant concepts, pursuing a strategy that would lead to a heterogeneous patchwork of restaurants all owned by Levy Restaurants. During the first years of Levy Restaurants, the Levys developed several major restaurants in Water Tower Place, one of Chicago's premier high-rise shopping malls. One of the restaurants located in Water Tower Place was Chestnut Street Grill, a grilled seafood restaurant that quickly became highly popular. It was one of the first Chicago restaurants to feature grilled seafood.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

The History of a Prehistoric Stone Fort in Illinois' Shawnee National Forest.

About 1000 years ago, when Indian cultures were enjoying the area’s abundant resources (water, wildlife, nuts, berries, and roots) in the Shawnee National Forest, a stone fort was found. It is thought to have been built during the Late Woodland Period (1000 BC - 1000 AD), probably between 600 to 900 AD. 
A Shawnee National Forest Overlook.
These prehistoric forts were constructed on a raised mass of land known as a promontory, while some others were built on hilltops. This provided an excellent overlook that let them see for miles across Illinois' premier forest.

The massive stone wall was at one time 285 feet long, six feet high, and nine feet thick on 1.4 acres of land. The appearance of a “stone fort” or stone wall located in Giant City State Park, which is part of the Shawnee National Forest, sits atop a sloped ridge
There are actually about ten of these old structures in the southern Illinois area, and they are believed to have been either a military fortification as a meeting place or a ceremonial temple.

Most of these sites were not habitation sites (villages) in the usual sense. There was only a modest amount of artifacts, which is common among places of sporadic use for short periods of time. Debris found on this site includes sherds of grit or grog tempered cord-marked pottery and stone tools, like projectile points. Many Late Woodland tribes lived in large, intensively occupied villages located near major rivers and streams such as Cahokia and East St. Louis. They had a mixed economy of hunting, gathering, and cultivated a series of native plants like, barley, sumpweed, maygrass, and squash.
For years archaeologists have wondered about the stone fort’s usage. Some say that these were “sacred spaces” reserved for periodic activity. Archaeological digs have located items that prove that the Indians of Southern Illinois were part of an extensive trading network. They believe the trading network followed the trails in Southern Illinois that became the early pioneer roads centuries later. Archaeologists suggest the possibility that stone forts were designated areas where different tribes or sub-tribes could meet, socialize, and trade on neutral ground.

The original wall was dismantled by European settlers, who used the stones in order to build their own structures; the stone base is all that remains of the original wall. It was reconstructed in 1934 by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) workforce gathered the scattered stone and rebuilt the wall in its original location, but has since fallen into ruins again.
The first professional archaeological investigation of the fort site was conducted in 1956 by archaeologists from Southern Illinois University. An explanation for the large hole in the front of the wall is unknown, although it most likely represents the work of treasure hunters. The hole was there when the site was officially recorded as an archaeological site in 1956.
In the fall of 2000, archaeologists from Southern Illinois University Carbondale conducted an investigation of the Stone Fort site. Of the 153 shovel tests executed south of the wall, all were positive for prehistoric artifacts. This led the scientists to nominate Giant City’s Stone Fort for the National Register of Historic Places. The Giant City Stone Fort Site was listed on National Register of Historic Places on August 9, 2002
The Stone Fort Trail in Giant City State Park is a little-known path that leads to some truly intriguing ruins. It is less than half a mile in length and is a loop trail.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The history of the Paleo-Indian migration to North America and the Jesse Ready Site/Lincoln Hills Site in Jersey County, Illinois.

The first people in North America arrived at least 14,000 years ago. Archaeologists call this period of North American history Paleo-Indian, meaning ancient Indian. Paleo-Indian people left behind distinctive spear points and other kinds of stone tools at Illinois campsites.
A Paleo-Indian spear point; many have been found in Fulton County, Illinois.
Archaeologists have yet to find charcoal from which they could get an absolute date for these campsites, but spear points have been found in other parts of North America in 10,000 to 12,000-year-old deposits.

The Paleo-Indians arrived near the end of the Pleistocene epoch (2,600,000 BC to 11,700 BC), which is also known as the Ice Age. Archaeologists believe the first people crossed into North America when it was connected to Asia by land.

Geologists estimate that ocean levels were at least 280 feet lower during the late Ice Age. When sea level fell, sections of the ocean floor became dry land. For example, large parts of the continental shelf were exposed along the coasts of North America and land linked Asia and North America.

The earth's climate was colder during the ice age than it is today. During the ice age, the snow made up much of the earth's precipitation. Thick layers of snow slowly accumulated at higher latitudes and higher elevations. As snow accumulated, the bottom layers were compressed and transformed into ice and eventually glaciers, slow-moving masses of ice. In North America, glaciers once stretched from the Arctic to southern Illinois. As more and more of the earth's water was transformed into snow and ice, ocean levels fell, exposing large sections of the ocean bottom.
Map of Asia and North America showing 'Bering Sea Land Bridge' called the 'Beringia' and, the possible route of Paleo-Indian people.
Asian people walked across this Asia-America "land bridge," perhaps while hunting animals like the Woolly Mammoth. Archaeologists call the land bridge "Beringia." About 12,000 years ago, rising seawater submerged Beringia, which today lies beneath the Bering Sea. When the earth's climate became warmer, glacial ice melted, sea level rose and submerged land along the edges of continents.

For many years, anthropologists believed that Indians were from Siberia. New evidence suggests that people from other Asian groups also came to North America, perhaps at different times. Scientists who study the shape and size of skeletal remains are known as osteologists. Osteologists study human remains to learn about health, disease, and ancestry. Based on a recent study of Asian and Indian skeletons, osteologists believe that Indian ancestry includes more than one Asian group. Archaeologists have not found skeletal remains of Paleo-Indian people in Illinois. At present, we do not know much about the appearance of these people, how tall they were, how long they lived, or anything about their overall health.

During the Ice Age, complicated interactions between the earth's atmosphere and its oceans caused extensive glaciation. Mile-thick masses of glacial ice extended into Illinois, moving colossal amounts of rock and earth. When the ice retreated, it left broad, flat, plains, some rolling topography, and gently flowing streams. The power, weight, and movement of ice shaped much of the Illinois landscape.

By the time Paleo-Indian people arrived in Illinois, the midcontinental glaciers had retreated northward into the upper Great Lakes and Canada. The glacial ice had begun to melt due to a slight increase in temperature, but the climate in Illinois was still cooler than today. When compared to our weather, the growing season (Spring and Summer) in a typical Paleo-Indian year may have been up to one month shorter; the annual amount of snowfall was greater, and the mean July temperature may have been as much as 5° cooler than it is today.

In a large part, climate determines the plants and animals found in Illinois. Even slight changes in climate can result in major differences in the abundance and distribution of species. As the Ice Age ended, Illinois' landscape was transformed from tundra to spruce (Picea) and black ash (Fraxinus nigra) woodlands mixed with meadows. The annual average temperature continued to rise, and, by 11,000 years ago, a thick deciduous (shedding its broad-leaves annually) forest of oak (Quercus), elm (Ulmus), ash (Fraxinus), and hickory (Carya), like that found in Illinois today.

Ice Age animals in Illinois included species such as mastodon (Mammut americanum), mammoth (Mammuthus), flat-headed peccary (Platygonus compressus), giant beaver (Castoroides ohioensis), long-horned bison (Bison latifrons), and giant stag-moose (Cervalces scotti). Paleo-Indian people saw some, if not all, of these animals, all of which would soon become extinct because of climate change and/or human hunting. They also saw and may have hunted, caribou (Rangifer tarandus) and muskox (Bootherium bombifrons), forms of which still exist, but now in more northerly latitudes such as Canada and Alaska. With a warmer climate came species that are now common in Illinois such as white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), squirrel (Sciurus), and woodchuck (Marmota monax).

The Paleo-Indian economy was based on hunting and gathering resources whose availability was largely influenced by the season of the year and geographic distribution. The availability of plants and animals depends on the season, especially the growing season during which plants produce fruits, seeds, and nuts. The distribution of plants and animals is also affected by the availability of water and by topography. Resources such as stone suitable for tool making were also not available everywhere. The hunter-gatherer economy is a matter of being at the right place at the right time to take advantage of a desirable resource.

Paleo-Indian people depended on foods available seasonally but may have supplemented their winter diet with dried foods. Research says they did not cultivate plants yet. Archaeologists have yet to find a Paleo-Indian site in Illinois with evidence of their food choices, but they did make an important discovery in eastern Missouri just south of St. Louis in 1979. While unearthing the pelvis of a mastodon at the Mastodon State Park - Kimmswick Site, a team of archaeologists and paleontologists discovered a Paleo-Indian spear point. The position of the point suggests that it was lodged in the mastodon's leg muscle. The discovery of the spear point with the leg bone is evidence that Paleo-Indian people hunted this mastodon. There is also evidence that they hunted white-tailed deer and smaller animals. They also may have fished, and they probably gathered a variety of seasonally available foods such as fruits, seeds, and nuts, but we have yet to find evidence for these foods in Illinois or at the Kimmswick Site in Missouri.

Paleo-Indian tools have been found that are made of stone found elsewhere, sometimes hundreds of miles away. At present, archaeologists believe Paleo-Indian people obtained the stone by traveling to its source rather than trading for it. It may be that trade requires at least some permanent settlements, and Paleo-Indian groups moved from place to place too frequently.

Paleo-Indian technology was based on stone, bone, wood, and other natural materials. Many tools were fashioned shaping stone using techniques like percussion--removing the unwanted stone by striking it with a hammerstone or hard bone baton--and pressure--applying pressure with a bone tool to carefully shape the edge of a knife. Most, if not all, Paleo-Indian technology was portable--personal possessions were often moved from camp to camp depending on the season and the availability of essential resources. And, most, if not all, Paleo-Indian technology was flexible--with a limited number of tools, each tool was designed to be used for different tasks. A study of technology includes not only making a tool but also construction that required tools to build such as shelter.

Archaeologists find few artifacts at most Paleo- Indian sites. The artifacts generally consist of hunting tools such as stone spear points, scrapers, and flakes of stone produced in the production or repair of spear points and other tools. It is also likely that Paleo-Indian people made a variety of wooden and bone tools that have not survived for archaeologists to discover.

We have no evidence of Paleo-Indian containers like jars, pots, and bowls. They could have used animal skins, plant fiber, and wood to construct containers for carrying and storing material, but like bone and wood, these materials are not readily preserved.

Stone spear points have been found at most Paleo-Indian sites in Illinois. Large spear points fastened to wooden shafts were effective hunting weapons, and they were also used as knives. They may have used antler, bone or wooden weapons, but archaeologists have yet to find them preserved. Paleo-Indian spear points have a distinctive flute or groove made by removing one or more flakes from the base of the point to improve their attachment to a wooden or bone foreshaft or handle.
Clovis point found in St. Clair County, Illinois.

Like the native people living in the tundra today, Paleo-Indians may have lived in skin tents, which they could easily transport. They probably supported the skins with wood poles and branches collected from trees when they arrived at a suitable location.

Paleo-Indians probably traveled by foot and transported most of their belongings in packs, which they carried, not having animals to do so. They may have left certain tools and containers at locations they repeatedly visited. Based on the small size of these camps and the small number of artifacts, archaeologists believe Paleo-Indian groups consisted of an extended family, parents, children, grandchildren, and perhaps aunts and uncles.

Archaeologists have yet to discover objects that can be attributed to Paleo-Indian beliefs. We can make educated inferences about their beliefs. Throughout the world, most hunters and gatherers believe in a spirit-filled world. Their lives include a variety of rituals to give respect to spirits and to learn from them.

Jesse Ready Site / Lincoln Hills Site, Jersey County, Illinois.
Most Paleo-Indian sites in Illinois represent small, temporary, and rarely revisited camps, based on the small number of artifacts found at these sites.

In contrast, the Ready/Lincoln Hills Site, located along the Mississippi River in Jersey County, Illinois, covers a large area and appears to have been visited many times, and, perhaps, occupied for longer periods of time. Called the Ready Site because Jesse Ready discovered the site and surface collected there for many years, the site is best known locally as the Ready site.
Jesse Ready Site - Lincoln Hills Site location.
This location was attractive because stone used to make tools were readily available nearby. The surface of the site is littered with flakes of stone left from making spear points, scrapers, and other tools. Occasionally broken and used tools are found at the site. These were replaced with newly made tools. After a group repaired or replaced their tools, they moved on to another location that provided different resources. When they needed stone for tool making, they would return to Lincoln Hills or another location where stone was available.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

America's First Automobile Race took place in Chicago, Illinois, in 1895.

Henry Ford receives most of the credit for the development of the car in the U.S., however, he did not produce the first American motorcar. This distinction goes to the Duryea brothers -- Charles and Frank -- who created their first gasoline-powered "horseless-carriage" in 1893. Like the Wright brothers, the Duryeas were bicycle mechanics with a passion for innovation.

Founded by Charles Duryea and his brother Frank, the Duryea Motor Wagon Company built their first Motor Wagon, a one-cylinder four horsepower car, first demonstrated on September 21, 1893, in Springfield, Massachusetts. It is considered the first successful gas-engine vehicle built in the U.S.

The race, a 54-mile course from downtown Chicago to Evanston and back, was scheduled to start on November 2, 1895.

The original field featured 83 entries in the race, but 76 of them never made it to the race. The high dropout rate seemed largely due to most of the cars not being finished in time for the contest. Organizers postponed the event for a week.

If the new technology weren't already tricky enough, dealing with the local authorities was even worse. Before pre-race favorite Elwood Haynes and the Benz driver could even get into town, they were stopped by the cops. Their infraction? The police said that they had no right to drive their vehicles on the city streets and the competitors had to requisition horses to pull the cars. Haynes had to drop out when his car was damaged en route and was unable to compete.

Naturally the editors of the Times-Herald flipped out. They postponed the event again, until they could convince the city leaders to pass an ordinance allowing the newfangled vehicles to travel on the streets of Chicago. By this time, the race day had slipped to November 28th, Thanksgiving Day.

Frank Duryea described his experience in his autobiography: 
"I started with draftsmen on plans for a new motor wagon (the second Duryea vehicle, a two-cylinder vehicle built in 1894) of which I had, from time to time, been making rough sketches during the past summer. But my work was interrupted by the necessity of preparing a motor wagon for the race promoted by H.H. Kohlsaat of the Chicago Times-Herald.

This race was set for November 2nd, and as driver, the Company sent me out to Chicago with the motor wagon on that date. Only the Mueller Benz and the Duryea cars were present and ready to start, so the race was postponed until the 28th. Thanksgiving Day, when it arrived, found me again in Chicago with my motor wagon.
A heavy snow had fallen during the night (and 30° at the start of the race) and we experienced hard going as we drove out to Jackson Park from our quarters on Sixteenth Street.

Of nearly a hundred entries, only six contestants lined up for the start. Of these six, two were electric vehicles entered by Morris and Salom of Philadelphia, and Sturgis of Chicago. Of the four gasoline-engined vehicles, H. Mueller & Go. of Decatur, Illinois, R.H. Macy & Co. of New York, and The De la Vergne Refrigerating Machine Co. of New York, each came to the start with an imported German Benz. The Duryea Motor Wagon Company's entry was the only American-made gasoline vehicle to start.

The word ‘go’ was given at 8:55 AM and the Duryea was the first vehicle (№ 5) away.

With me as umpire was Mr. Arthur W. White. The machine made good going of the soft unpacked snow in Jackson Park, but when we came to the busier part of the city, the street surface consisted of ruts and ice hummocks (a hump or ridge in an ice field), in which the car slewed badly from side to side.

While still in the lead, the left front wheel struck a bad rut at such an angle that the steering arm was broken off. This arm had been threaded and screwed firmly to a shoulder, and it was a problem to extract the broken-off threaded part of the arm. When this was finally accomplished, we, fortunately, located a blacksmith shop where we forged down, threaded and replaced the arm. While thus delayed, the Macy Benz passed us and held the lead as far as Evanston, where we regained it.

Having made the turn at Evanston, elated at being in the lead again, we started on the home trip.

We had not yet come to Humboldt Park when one of the two cylinders ceased firing.

This repair was completed in fifty-five minutes and we got going, feeling that the Macy Benz must surely be ahead of us, but learned later that the Macy did not get that far. Breaking the way through the snow in Humboldt and Garfield Parks proved to be heavy work for the motor, but also indicated that all competitors were behind us.

After a stop for gasoline, and a four-minute wait for a passing train at a railroad crossing, we continued on to the finish in Jackson Park, arriving at 7:18 PM.

The motor had at all times shown ample power, and at no time were we compelled to get out and push.

After receiving congratulations from the small group still remaining at the finish line, among whom were the Duryea Motor Wagon Company party, I turned the motor wagon and drove it back to its quarters on Sixteenth Street.

The Mueller Benz, the only other machine to finish, was driven across the line at 8:53 PM by the umpire, Mr. Charles B. King, Mr. Mueller having collapsed from fatigue and the frigid cold."
Shortly after the start, depending on whom you believe, either two of the vehicles argued over the same piece of road, or one of them, a Benz, ran into a horse cart or was forced off the road by the horse cart. Whatever caused it, one Benz was in a ditch and out of the race. Then another Benz dropped out.
Frank Duryea travelled 54 miles at an average 7.5 mph, in 10 hours and 23 minutes (including repair time) marking the first U.S. auto race in which any entrants finished. 

The winner earned $2,000 ($61,000 today), the enthusiast from the crowd. The person who gave the horseless vehicles the new name of "motorcycles" won $500. The Chicago Times-Herald Newspaper that sponsored the race wrote, "Persons who are inclined to decry the development of the horseless carriage will be forced to recognize it as an admitted mechanical achievement, highly adapted to some of the most urgent needs of our civilization."

That same year, the brothers began commercial production in 1895, with thirteen cars sold by the end of 1896. Their first ten production vehicles were the first automobiles sold in the United States.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The amazing history of Burger Chef Restaurants, which many of their locations were in Illinois.

Frank P. Thomas Sr. founded the General Equipment Company in Indianapolis in 1930 to manufacture his new invention, which he named the Nu-Way frozen custard machine. In 1951, Thomas Sr. retired at 75 years old and gave his company stock to his two sons, Frank P. Thomas Jr. and Donald J. Thomas, and his son-in-law Robert Wildman.
A photograph of the EZE-Way frozen custard machine at a trade show around 1950. Frank P. Thomas Sr. eliminated the principle of using chipped ice and salt for freezing frozen custard in his Nu-Way machines when he installed compressors and changed the name to EZE-Way because the machines were easier to use.
With the introduction of the Sani-Shake machine and the Sani-Broiler around 1956, General Equipment Company was manufacturing most ot the basic machines necessary for operating a drive-in resturant.
With the introduction of the Sani-Shake machine and the Sani-Broiler around 1956, General Equipment Company was manufacturing most ot the basic machines necessary for operating a drive-in resturant.
The very first Burger Chef restaurant opened in May of 1957 and was located in the Little America Amusement Park in Indianapolis. Frank P. Thomas Jr. built this demonstration store to showcase his restaurant equipment in actual operation, and there were no plans to franchise the concept at this point.

In late 1957, Frank P. Thomas Jr., Donald J. Thomas, and Robert Wildman made plans were made to create a new division of the General Equipment Company called Burger Chef.
Artist's rendition of a Burger Chef location like this one were often included in franchise materials sent out to attract potential restaurant owners.
The chain featured several signature items such as the Big Shef and Super Shef hamburgers. Their first hamburgers sold for 15¢.
In the late 1950s, they created the first "value combo" as a 15¢ hamburger, 15¢ fries, and 15¢ vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry milkshake. It was known as the "Triple Treat." Free Triple Treat coupons were often given as promotional items.
The Pied Piper was an experimental food truck.
Pied Piper was an experimental atttempt by Burger Chef in 1962 to expand its fast-food concept into other areas. Restaurant machines by the General Equipment Company were installed in Volkswagen vans like this one. Food was then prepared in the vans and sold door-to-door to local businesses.
General Foods purchased the chain in 1968 and added menu items such as the Top Shef (bacon/cheeseburger) and a chicken club sandwich (with bacon). The Works Bar allowed customers to purchase a plain burger and pile it high with the toppings of their choice. 
The chain had two mascots: Burger Chef (voiced by Paul Winchell) and Jeff (the chef's juvenile sidekick).

In 1971, Burger Chef was poised to surpass McDonald’s as the largest hamburger chain in the U.S., with 1200 locations nationwide. Not too bad for a restaurant that was created as an afterthought to showcase the General Restaurant Equipment Company’s new flame broiler. In addition to their Big Shef (double burger) and Super Shef (quarter pound burger), the company introduced a Fun Meal, which included a burger, fries, drink, dessert, and a toy for the kids. 

The chain expanded throughout the United States, and at its peak, in 1973 with 1,050 locations, was second only to McDonald's in the number of locations nationwide. 

Burger Chef sued McDonald’s in 1979 when that company introduced their Happy Meal but ultimately lost.
                                   1973                                                                    1978
1966 Downtown Burger Chef in St. Louis, Missouri.
But in 1982 General Foods decided to get out of the burger business and sold the chain to Imasco Ltd., the parent company of Hardee’s for $44 million. Hardee's let franchises and locations near existing Hardee's locations convert to other brands. Remaining restaurants that did not convert to Hardee's or new names and branding were simply closed.
College students enjoying lunch at a Burger Chef restaurant.
Hardee's brought back the Big Shef hamburger for a limited time in 2001, 2007, and 2014 at some Midwestern locations.

Advertising Slogans
1970–1971 – "There's more to like at Burger Chef."
                         "Burger Chef goes all out to please your family."
1971–1976 – "You get more to like at Burger Chef."
1976–1980 – "We really give you the works."
                         "Open wide America, you never can forget."
                          "You get more to like at Burger Chef."
1980–1996 – "Nowhere else but Burger Chef."

The Complete Collection of Burger Chef TV Commercials

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.