James K Posted January 22, 2022 Report Share Posted January 22, 2022 Everybody knows McDonald's, it's synonymous with the great American hamburger. How many people know Wimpy? This is no doubt a trip down memory lane for some Brits who were teenagers in the seventies and eighties, for the rest of us it's an incredibly British history founded in America. Wimpy was the burger bar of the seventies, before Ronald McDonald conquered the world. The company was founded in Chicago in the 1930s and was named after the Popeye character. How many of you knew that? As Ashley Clark says: According to my mum, “Wimpy used to be a pretty cool place in the 70s, both as a family eating place on shopping days and a place for teenagers to hang out on Saturday afternoons and before and after going clubbing.” Film critic Julien Allen told me about his wide-eyed wonderment at visiting the Oxford Street branch with his dad in 1978: “It was my first time in a burger bar,” he recalled. “It was impossibly glamorous.” Today 67 Wimpy burger bars remain in the UK... Ashley Clark again: Was Wimpy’s name a self-fulfilling prophecy? Could it have stood up and fought for itself more? Perhaps. But even as a youngster I was dimly aware that Wimpy lacked the swagger of its American competitors. On a personal level, I never minded; Wimpy always seemed to be content with gently maintaining a shabby, understated Britishness, down to its conjoined plasticky table-chair combos and stoically unchanging menu. If McDonald's was Friends, then Wimpy was Only Fools and Horses. And that was fine by me. By American competitors he must mean McDonald's, because as I said Wimpy was originally an American company and later in 1989 was bought by Grand Metropolitan PLC owners of Burger King who re-branded many of the Wimpy outlets as the trend switched to over the counter takeaway. As Ashley Clark ends his article in Vice magazine, Wimpy has a Twitter account, and as he proudly proclaims, Wimpy is not dead yet, “Round here we say chips not fries”, is weirdly (and amusingly) antagonistic – but only a true optimist could be that hopeful about its future prospects. Read the full article here: The Slow Death of a British Institution Quote Link to comment
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