The History of Greasy Foods

Who hasn’t, at some point in their lives, been to a fast food restaurant and enjoyed some greasy food?  For some it’s an occasional ‘treat’ while for others it can be a way of life.  But whether you are a frequent visitor or casual observer everyone can associate the King, the Golden Arches or the little girl with the red braids.  But how did it all start?  Here are some short histories on three of North Americas’ favorite’s fast food restaurants.

Burger King

Originally called Insta-Burger King, it was founded by Keith J. Kramer and his wife’s uncle Matthew Barnes in 1953.  It received its name due to the success of the broiler they used to cook burgers called the Insta-Broiler.  Franchises all over the state of Florida began popping up but it wasn’t until 1961 when James McLamore and David R. Edgerton acquired the company, later to be known as the Burger King Corporation, that it expanded nationally.

Interesting dates:

1957- Launch of the Whopper

1958- First TV ads.

1982- Burger King claims it tastes better than McDonalds and Wendy’s.

2006- Burger King Corporation goes public with stock symbol BKC.


Growing up Dave Thomas had a hard life of constant moving from city to city as his adoptive father looked for work.  One thing he did enjoy most was eating in different family restaurants.  At 12 years old he began earning money delivering groceries, then as a soda jerk at Walgreens and at 15, living on his own in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he got a job at the Hobby House Restaurant.  The enjoyment he got from watching families interact and have a good time at these places highly influenced him in his pursuit of owning his own restaurant.  He even returned to the Hobby House after serving in the war when he was 18, where he met a waitress named Lorraine who would later become his wife in 1954.

It was an opportunity in 1956 when along with his boss Phil Clauss, he met Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken and began working for his franchises.  After bringing several of the restaurants out of their financial woes and creating money makers Dave Thomas had become a millionaire.

In 1969 the first Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburger Restaurant, named after his youngest daughter’s nickname, was launched and Dave’s lifelong dream had come true.


Dick and Mac McDonald had a vision.  While their drive-in restaurant was doing great in the late 40’s they still wanted to improve upon what they had already created.  They replaced the car-hop with a self-service counter, they reduced the menu from 25 to 9 items and they created a kitchen that could mass produce quickly in an assembly line fashion.  This new concept brought about speedy service, low prices and big volume, as well as doubled their yearly revenue and number of patrons.

News of their success spread quickly and the 1st franchise opened in the early 50’s featuring the “Golden Arches”, red and white tiled building and slanted roof that is famous today.

But it was Ray Kroc, a 52 year old milkshake machine salesman who liked what he saw and helped propel the industry into what it is today.  The McDonalds didn’t have the drive to control the restaurants expansion so Ray became their exclusive franchising agent.  Retaining the original formula that had been working so well, he believed so much in the restaurants future that he didn’t take a single penny in salary until 1961.  That year Kroc obtained a loan and bought out the brothers, securing his full rights to control this future billion dollar mainstay.

Interesting Dates:

1967- Fist restaurant outside the US opened in Richmond, B.C

1970- Waikiki, Hawaii became the first city to serve breakfast

1980- 35 billion served

1995- The first play Place was created in Niagara Fall, Ont.

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