for is right here:
Ah, those long gone fast food chains we remember as a kid - with food both good and bad. I'm still upset about McDonald's fries today being nothing like the limp, greasy fries of my youth. You were lucky to make it home with any; so irresistible because they were deep fried in beef fat. That's a tasty treat not likely to return. (Darn all you obese people that ruined it for the rest of us!)
Where can you get that retro 1970's fast food taste experience today without programming the Time Tunnel? (A risky proposition considering the Tunnel exploded into a shower of sparks every time someone moved a dial.)
It's not easy but it's possible, depending on where you live, to travel back in time - gastronomically speaking.
Anyone remember Biff Burger? When I was a kid growing up in the seventies there were several around town, they were found all along the East Coast with a few outposts not much further west.
In the quality pecking order of burger chains of the 1960s-'70s there was McDonald's at the top, Burger King just below, Hardees, Burger Chef, and Biff Burger taking up the rear.
The burger itself was different from the rest, with their own tangy sauce that the burger was dipped in after cooking on a special rotating broiler.
In the days of 20 cent hamburgers at McDonald's and Burger King, Biff Burger (which stood for "Best in Fast Food") was a penny less, only 19 cents. I hardly ever ate at Biff Burger but I would when I was in high school if that penny made a difference in my getting a burger for lunch or not. Being less expensive than the other chains led to the impression (in my mind, anyway) that the burgers weren't as good - indeed, they had a slightly gamey taste.
The chain was founded in the 1950s but went under in the mid-1970s with a few profitable independent franchises holding on. Biff Burger disappeared almost completely by the mid-1980s but two stores still survive using the same burger recipes, with the same basic decor.
One is in St. Petersburg, Florida - the other Biff Burger was renamed Beef Burger (the owner changed the name in the 1980s in case the franchise was revived and he should get hit with back franchise fees).
Beef Burger is a 50 year institution in Greensboro, NC with the 1970's chairs and tables (yellow and attached as one unit, naturally) and the 1980's arcade games. They still use the classic "Biff" character, one of the worst designed mascots in history!
The menu is not limited to the original, you'll find probably the widest variety of food anywhere, from zucchini sticks to fried shrimp and about a dozen or more flavors of soda. They also have milkshakes made from an old 1970's machine.
And the food is grease-liscious. I'm not crazy about the Biff Burger itself but they have the best steak sandwich I've had in a long while, I'm hooked. The Super Burger is tasty too.
UNC-G students have long flocked to this place to chow down on cheap but good quality eats that really soak up the alcohol - although the front door sports a sign on the door that says, "If you're drunk eat somewhere else."
By all means, if you're in Greensboro on business, stop by Beef Burger at 1040 West Lee Street. Sadly, expansion plans by UNC-G has put the restaurant in danger of being plowed under. You can read the entire history of Biff Burger at this wonderful site. Enjoy!
Another lost burger chain that sold down-market burgers that I confess I liked just fine. This 1970 commercial was attempting to tap into the teen market with groovy hippy music and tender but occasionally offbeat family images. "Incrediburgable!"
This chain started disappearing in the mid-eighties after the big two - McDonald's and Burger King - pretty much locked up the nationwide fast food hamburger market with regionals like Jack In The Box, Carl's Jr, and Hardees continuing to thrive. At one time Burger Chef was second only to McDonald's in the number of locations nationwide. If I recall, they had a great dry but tasty Roast Beef sandwich that Hardees continued to sell for a few years.
Another death blow to Burger Chef - Wendy's went nationwide in the early-seventies and moved everything in the opposite direction with their innovative drive-thru window, salad bar and fresher meat. Places like Burger Chef and Biff Burger just couldn't compete.
Hardees took over Burger Chef in the mid-eighties and began slowly assimilating them until the last Burger Chef closed in 1996.
Want to taste it again? Schroeder's Drive-In in Danville, Illinois still serves the original Burger Chef menu items; fans in Jacksonville, Illinois can hop over to CR's Drive In where they still offer Burger Chef french fries.
Bob Huggins follows up: I enjoyed reading about "Biff Burger." I guess that there were probably a number of regional fast food restaurants in various parts of the country that are no longer around so I’m happy to see one that still exists.
Growing up in the Philadelphia, Pa area we had “Gino’s”
which had, for its time, the memorable slogan “Everybody goes to
Gino’s, ‘cause Gino’s is the place to go.” As
best as I can recall, Gino’s pretty much went head-to-head with
McDonald’s. Anyhow, there’s
a tribute site to the restaurant (complete with message board)
which readers from the Middle Atlantic States might be interested in seeing.
The first of a chain of brand new Gino's Restaurants opened at 611 West DeKalb Pike in King of Prussia, Pa in 2010 with more coming to Baltimore (the chain started in Baltimore). Whether it compares to the original I have no idea - tell us your experience.
Speaking of regional fast food chains, it was more than 10 years ago when the Krystal Burger joints were upgraded, reviving the slumbering fast food chain that began back in 1932. Those mini-burgers (they'd be called sliders today) were pretty tasty, as I remember.
Krystal Burgers were found down South whereas White Castle (the oldest hamburger chain in the United States) was more of a Northern, Midwest and West Coast thing. The Krystal burger was a straight up ripoff of White Castle's, if you liked one you'd probably enjoy the other. Now the chain is limited to one location in Georgia with about a dozen stores in Tennessee and some in Florida.
Did you see the scenes in the Borat movie shot at Krystals?
Celebrity Fried Chicken
That reminds me of the great Fried Chicken chain explosion of the early-1970s. With the incredible success of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Roy Rogers, Mahalia Jackson, Minnie Pearl, Tex Ritter, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and even Popeye opened chicken restaurants that (mostly) quietly passed away after a few years. I never ate at a single one of them back in the day, they never took off enough to spread very far from their point of origin.
Dinah's (that I assumed was named for Dinah Shore but wasn't) still exists in LA and Glendale CA (kinda sorta) and Popeye's continues to flourish on a worldwide scale - but what the heck did Popeye ever have to do with chicken, fried or otherwise?
I'm dying to know what Mahalia Jackson's "Glori-fried" chicken tastes like, there's still one store left in Nashville.
Johnny Carson and Al Hirt both had failed restaurant ventures named after them but I doubt they were known for their fried chicken.
Roy Rogers Roast Beef
I do miss Roy Rogers' restaurants, they were very popular in the 1970s; it was the mid-eighties when I ate my last one. The secret to the Roy Rogers roast beef sandwich was that it was made WITH ACTUAL ROAST BEEF that they cooked in the store, served on a lightly toasted bun. Today's roast beef standard, Arby's, slices up some kind of molded gelatinous meat concoction that doesn't fit my definition of roast beef at all.
Imagine my surprise in 2004 when I was traveling to New York City to do TV and found the New Jersey landscape dotted with Roy Rogers restaurants beckoning from the rest stops all along the highways. I couldn't resist trying their roast beef again and it was a faint echo of the terrific sandwich they used to serve, but not quite the real thing. Still, much better than Arby's.
My life has been in the pursuit of fine tasting roast beef sandwiches and I will continue my journey - but I doubt if any fast food joints today will satisfy that craving.
Kenny Rogers Roasters
Well, it's not seventies fast food but Bob Huggins adds: Kenny
Rogers Roasters is another celebrity restaurant that is pretty much
gone from the U.S. landscape but is apparently doing well in the Philippines.
Go figure. My recollection of the restaurant was that it was trying to
compete along the lines of a Boston Market. It came and went pretty quickly
in my area.
In the same vein you should head over to Groceteria, the online museum of former grocery stores from the early days.
1970's Fast Food Restaurants
Past TV Blog Entries: RESCUE KITTY GOES NUTS! /Filthy Rich / Police Squad / Christmas Blog / Lost Christmas Specials of the 50s & 60s / 1970 TV Shows / Strother Martin / Joya Sherrill / Super Circus / 1950's The Big Show / Saturday Morning TV Memories / Hilarious Outtakes / The Smothers Brothers Revisited/Thanksgiving TV Shows / Thanksgiving Day Parade TV History / Thanksgiving TV Cartoon Specials of the 1970s /WPIX Thanksgiving Day TV Specials / Christmas Specials / INTERVIEW WITH DARIN BROOKS /
TV Blog / Television Blog / Christmas Blog / 2010 TV Shows / Classic TV / I Love Lucy / Television Shows / TV on DVD / TV Shows on DVD / Prime Time TV / Television Blog/ TV Show Reviews / TV Shows on DVD Reviews / TV DVD Reviews
Hit Shows of the Seventies: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy / Gene Roddenberry in the 1970s / Star Trek Animated / Fall Previews of the 70s / Lance Link, Secret Chimp / Star Wars Holiday Special / Alias Smith and Jones / 1977 Year in Review / Top Ten 1970-76 / The Rockford Files / All in the Family / Sam Hall (Dark Shadows) Interview / Battlestar Galactica / Wonder Woman / Network Jingles / Class of '74 / Happy Days / Good Times / Mr. Bill / Dinah! / Maude / Doris Day Show / Pamelyn Ferdin Interview / The Bicentennial Minute / Jingles & Catch Phrases of the 1970s / Early Cable TV 1970s / TV commercials for Women / TV Moms / Bette Midler in the 1970s / Biff Burger
Local Kid Shows / Movie Stars on TV / Saturday Morning Shows / Video Vault / TV Goodbyes / Fabulous Fifties / Unseen Scenes / Game Shows / Requested Forgotten TV Shows / The Super Sixties / The New * * Shows / 1980's Wrestling / TV Blog
|TV's Embarrassing Moments / Action Shows of the Sixties / TVparty Mysteries and Scandals / Variety Shows of the 1970s / The Eighties / The Laugh Track / 1970's Hit Shows / Response to TVparty / Search the Site / Add Your Comments|
Hit Shows of the Seventies: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy / Gene Roddenberry in the 1970s / 1977-1978 Superhero & Science Fiction TV Shows / Patrick Duffy of Dallas Interview / Best Season of Dallas Ever? / Mary Kay Place Albums of the 1970s / That Girl & TV's Single Working Women / Star Trek Animated / Dark Shadows / Dark Shadows Movies / Dark Shadows Novels / The Music Dark Shadows / 1970 TV Shows / Mike Wallace, Virginia Graham & Jim Longworth / Dick Clark / 1973 TV Shows / Thriller / The Jacksons TV Show / Fall Previews of the 70s / Lance Link, Secret Chimp / Star Wars Holiday Special / Alias Smith and Jones / 1977 Year in Review / Top Ten 1970-76 / The Rockford Files / All in the Family / Sam Hall (Dark Shadows) Interview / Battlestar Galactica / Wonder Woman / Network Jingles / Class of '74 / Happy Days / Good Times / Mr. Bill / Dinah! / Maude / Doris Day Show / Pamelyn Ferdin Interview / The Bicentennial Minute / Jingles & Catch Phrases of the 1970s / Early Cable TV 1970s / TV commercials for Women / TV Moms / Country Music TV Shows of the 1960s & 1970s / Betty White Show / Ron Palillo / Shirley Jones Interview / Tom Bosley / Rodney Dangerfield / How Sanford & Son Ended / Sanford & Son Spin-Off Grady / Virginia Graham Show / The "N" Word on TV / 10 Classic Comedy Routines You Have To Laugh At Before You Die / Hollywood Squares / 1970's Teen Idols & The Hudson Brothers / TV Stars with 3 Hit Shows / The Rookies / Unsold Pilots / Jackie Cooper / The Good Guys / Match Game / Make Room For Granddaddy / Mannix & Gail Fisher / Bette Midler in the 1970s / Bonus 1970's Stuff: Silent Star Marion Mack / Biff Burger / 1970s Fast Food Chains / Latin Casino / Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire / 1970's Daytime Talk Shows / The Fess Parker Show / Love, Loss & What I Watched
|Classic TV Commercials / 1950's TV / 1960's TV / 1970's TV / Lucy Shows / Classic Cars / John Wayne / Gene Roddenberry / Rockford Files / Sea Hunt / Superman on DVD / Toy Gun Ads / Flip Wilson Show / Big Blue Marble / Monty Hall / Carrascolendas / Mr. Dressup / Major Mudd / Chief Halftown / Baby Daphne / Sheriff John / Winchell & Mahoney / Fireball X-L5 / Mr. Wizard / Captain Noah / Thanksgiving Day Specials / Disney's First Christmas Special / Saturday Morning Cartoons / The Magic Garden / Amahl & the Night Visitors / Holiday Toy Commercials / Lucy & Desi's Last Christmas Show / Joey Heatherton / Fat Albert / The Virginian / Bewitched / Death of John Wayne / 1974 Saturday Mornings / Chuck McCann / Rudolph Collectables / Shrimpenstein / Local Popeye Shows / New Treasure Hunt / 1966 ABC TV Shows / 1967 TV Shows / 1968 TV Shows / Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes & Baby Doll / Fridays / TV Moms / George Lindsay / Star Wars / KISS / Lancelot Link / Saturday Morning Cartoons / The Magic Garden / Wonder Woman / Classic Comic Books / Andy Griffith / Cher / TV Shows on DVD / Outtakes & Bloopers / 1967 TV Shows / Romper Room / ABC Movie of the Week / The Goldbergs / Daws Butler Commercials / Saturday Morning Commercials / Captain Kangaroo / Chicago Local Kiddie Shows / Boston Local TV / Philly Local TV / NYC Local Kid Shows / Amos 'n' Andy / Electric Company / Bette Davis / Judy Garland / Christmas Specials / Redd Foxx / Good Times / Sitcom Houses / What's Happening! / Winky Dink & You / Sonny & Cher / Smothers Brothers / Commercial Icons of the 1960s / Soupy Sales / TV Terrorists / Irwin Allen / The Untouchables / Carol Burnett Show / Batman TV Show / Green Hornet / Today Show History / Our Gang / Doris Day Show / 1970's Commercials For Women / Bill Cosby in the 1970s / The Golddiggers / Lola Falana / 1970s TV Shows / David Bowie on TV / Hudson Brothers / Jackie Gleason / Hollywood Squares / Match Game / Bob Keeshan / Gumby / The Flip Wilson Show / Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour / The Bobby Darin Show / The Richard Pryor Show / George Burns / Celebrity Commercials / Rudolph / Movie Posters & More!|
to the menu
Contact Us / Survey
Other Cool TV Sites
TVparty! Television Blog