Burger Chef - Life in America

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MR NEWS
MR NEWS
26 Jan 2022

-- A look back at Burger Chef through the years In 1954 brothers Frank and Donald Thomas opened the first Burger Chef restaurant in Indianapolis IN The brothers were innovators they patented a flame broiler conveyor system that could cook 800 burgers per hour which helped grow the business In 1968 the General Foods Corporation bought Burger Chef for 16 5 million dollars and they quickly doubled the number of locations to more than a thousand in four short years During the 1970s they were the second largest chain behind McDonald s with 1 200 locations Burger Chef invented the concept of a kids meal in 1973 bundling burgers with a dessert and a toy They called it a Funmeal McDonalds would use this as inspiration for their own Happy Meal a few years later In 1978 Burger Chef secured the licensing deal of the decade They teamed up with Star Wars to create seven different kids meals with Star Wars toys included Characters from the movie even appeared in commercials for Burger Chef Just a few short years later the chain would nearly disappear Competition from chains like McDonald s and Wendy s along with over expansion left it quite vulnerable To make matters worse Burger Chef became notorious because of a crime that occurred in 1978 It came to be known as the Burger Chef Murders when 4 employees were kidnapped from the Speedway Indiana location and were executed in the nearby woods The case was never solved and the coverage of the crime likely hurt business In 1981 Hardee s purchased Burger Chef for 44 million dollars Some of the locations were converted into Hardee s while others closed

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