01st Sep
McDonalds Golden Arches (circa 1950s)

Fable of the Golden Arches

Richard and Maurice McDonald were planning to franchise their successful burger system in 1952. To stand above the visual noise created by miles of drive-ins, motels, car washes, bowling alleys, service stations, and coffee-shops—they decided a new structural style was needed. Without a unique design, nationwide recognition for their walk-up stand was an impossibility. With […]

22nd Jun
The Quarter-pounder with cheese

Hamburger Architecture

Hamburgers made their debut on the food scene as irregular lumps of chopped beef, hand shaped according to the improvisational jazz of lunch counter short order. During the early years, long before the cookie-cutter aesthetics of the Big Mac came into vogue, concerns over circular uniformity and ingredients were minimal. When fry by the seat of […]

28th May

Crazy Water in Mineral Wells, Texas

Today, the remnants of a once booming mineral water business can still be seen in the town of Mineral Wells, Texas. Originally built as a seven-story luxury resort, the Crazy Hotel is now a retirement home; the Milling Sanitarium a VFW hall, and the towering Baker Hotel—once the playground of screen stars, crooners, and oilmen—sits […]

03rd Mar
The Big Boy Himself

The Devolution of Bob’s Big Boy

In 1937, Robert Wian created his signature two-story cheeseburger at a five-stool lunch counter in Glendale, California and along with it—gave birth to a new roadside icon. At the time, six-year-old Richard Woodruff was a regular customer there, always on the make for free food. Occasionally, Wian let him sweep the floor in exchange for […]

03rd Mar

Immoral Sodas to Sundaes

America’s first ice cream soda fizzed to life in October of 1874. At the time, Robert Green was working as a soda fountain concessionaire at the Franklin Institute’s exhibit in Philadelphia. Serving drinks from a three-foot square dispenser, he ran out of cream for a popular beverage. Plopping a large dollop of ice cream into […]

29th Feb
Valentine Little Chef Diner

Arthur Valentine’s Portable Diners

In 1872, Walter Scott inaugurated the East Coast region as the bastion of diners when he served a snack from a rolling “lunch wagon” in Providence, Rhode Island. In the decades that followed, a raft of diner manufacturers appeared, adopting his tenets of portability and efficiency as the basis for construction. Unfortunately, shipping these prefabricated […]