Two-timing Food logos, or Chowhound Twilight Zone?
A current thread about “Bob’s Big Boy,” on the L.A. Board, has made me realize I am not alone when I sometimes get a feeling, when traveling the U.S., as if I crossed over into a Chowhound Twilight Zone (CTZ). The particular episode is like a bad recurring dream of “Betrayal.” For example, years ago on a visit to Falls Church, VA, I was driving past a Roy Rodgers fast food. Upon seeing the sign I wondered if the name was related to my childhood hero. I went inside and found a large portrait of Roy. I wondered why there was no such place out west (Roy’s home) thinking, “The kids out west got screwed out of the deal.” Anyway, I had some really good fried chicken and I also liked the salad bar. Two years later my work took me back to Falls Church and I looked forward to returning to Roy’s. The building was still there but the name “Hardee’s” was on the sign along with a “Happy Star,” which seem to be a misplaced “Carl’s Jr.” logo. Same Happy Star with a different name. That was when I first got the CTZ feeling. I went inside to inquire if I was nuts but everything inside still looked just like Roy’s – same fried chicken also. I began to suspect that the Corporate Food Devil was having some fun with me. I was told the star is the same as Carl’s but the food is like Roy’s. I hoped that the fried chicken would find a way to Carl’s but it never did.
Another time I got the CTZ feeling was in a grocery store near Boston. I was looking to buy a few jars of red burger relish (not easily found in L.A.) and I recognized a blue label on a mayo jar with the words “Real Mayonnaise” written under the space where “Best Foods” should appear but instead the name “Hellmann’s” appeared there. Same label with a different name.
Bob’s Big Boy is yet another example. The famous “Big Boy,” an icon, has always served like a doorman at the entrance of “Bob’s.” Now, on the L.A. thread mentioned above, I learn that some “Shoney's” once had the Big Boy in front of their restaurants. To see that would have really freaked me out. However, I found on Wikipedia that Shoney's no longer displays the Big Boy “because it dropped its relationship with Big Boy in 1984 in order to expand to other states where others owned the trademark.” Funny, Shoney dropped the two-timing Big Boy.
I wonder whether other food logo’s, icons, labels, and such are out there two-timing in the CTZ?
Do two Happy Stars equal one Happy constellation?
Can there be two “Real Mayonnaise” or is one a fraud?
Best Food’s Real Mayonnaise
Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise
In these cases, the brands are (or at least were) affiliated in some way, but I have (I think) an even better example.
Back in '92, I was in Vancouver for the folk festival. One night, I went to a restaurant called Dover Seafood (or Dover Fish Co., or something along those lines). Enjoyed the dinner, but was taken aback by the logo: it was the Legal Sea Foods cartoon fish, smiling back at me! Not just any cartoon fish, but the exact same drawing, raised "eyebrows" and all! (I even brought a mstchbox back with me, to confirm it was the same.)
Don't know if the place is still there; a Google search turned up nada.
Yep, like I said, “bad recurring dream of betrayal.”
So far the “Big Boy” sightings include restaurants named Bob’s, Shoney's, Jerry’s, Kip’s, Frich’s and Tawas Bay. The Big Boy is a busy boy.
Tawas Bay Big Boy
Big Boy Graveyard
You know, at this point I got to thinking that "Big Boy" was some kind of franchise but "What kind? I mean, there is a "Big Boy" double-decker burger and there is that (100 timing?) "Big Boy" figure that we all know and love. From these replys it appears that the sauce used on the burgers ("Big Boy" burgers?) is pretty much a local taste kind-of-thing therefore no STANDARDs of what to expect on your burger from region to region or maybe state to state, or even place to place. So that makes me wonder if this idea of buying the rights to use a "Big Boy" figure was once a way of making your small local place APPEAR to be a well known and respected national chain. I hope there was more to it than that.
I have been to Big Boys in Michigan, Virginia, Missouri and California. All menus looked alike(Big Boy, Super BB, Brawny Lad, Hot Fudge Brownie, more recently salad bar/breakfast salad bar) all had the same seasoned salt on the table, BB Thousand Island dressing (which is the same as sold in refrigerated area of grocery stores today), rye buns for Brawny Lad, pie desserts, placemats, coffee and general decor inside.
When we went to our first BB in San Diego (1980?) I remember there was a slice of avocado on the salad instead of a tomato, but there may have been a shortage or something.
I can't say I remember any of them having something 'local ' on the menu.
Hold on to your hat. Big Boy is a three-timer. In Texas, he collarborated with Kip's. I came from Mississippi originally and only knew him to be with Shoney, so to see him with Kip, well, that was a real jolt. You can only imagine my shock when I later found Bob to be part of the throng as well!
Geeky business discussion follows. Proceed at your own risk.
A lot if this is the result of buyouts of one company by another and a management decision to change certain things or not.
Then there are the 'intentional' ones: Hillstone Restaurant Group owns Houstons and Rutherford Grill (which are virtually identical) and Bandera (which is VERY similar). They also own Gulfstream (which is similar but not as close to the others).
One of the more interesting pieces on surviving in the consumer branding world I ever read was an early recognition (maybe 30 years ago) that things change so quickly that one survival tactic is to clone your popular brands. Do pretty much the same thing (tweaked to a different demographic or trend) and give it a different name. I used to call it the 'starfish' system. If one leg withers and dies, you have all the others and the dead one could actually grow back at some point. Think WalMart and Sam's Club, or any number of apparel companies that have a multitude of brands in their stable. The underlying structural efficiencies help save overhead and give the company more options.
When we lived in Bedford IN, back in '69 there was a restaurant named Jerry's that had a mascot out front that looked just like the big boy, but he had blond hair. Then we moved to Houston, TX in '70 and lo and behold there was that same mascot with brown hair at a place named Kips. Same menu, tasted the same too. That's long gone now.
Blond hair -- LOL! And I thought just seeing the regular Big Boy in front of Shoney's would put me into Chowhound Twilight Zone. I wonder if a red headed Big Boy , or an Afro style Big Boy, is out there someplace. Maybe Big Boy is related to Muffler Man.
Can't speak for the fast food franchises, but the mayonnaise is no mystery: they are the same product.
The brands' home pages say that Best Foods is known as Hellman's east of the Rockies / Hellman's is known as Best Foods west of the Rockies. Each has a link to the other's website
Both brands are owned by Unilever.
I grew up in Oakland, CA, corporate and original home of Dreyer's Ice Cream. I don't know the source of the decision to use the name Edy's in the eastern half of the country, but I suspect it may not, in this case, be a case of a buyout/agglomoration of the sort Midlife mentions below, because there was an old coffee shop (in the old-fashioned sense) in the neighboring city of Berkeley called Edy's that served lots of sundaes, etc. and really promoted their serving of Dreyer's.
Regarding Best Foods and Hellman's, when I lived in the Northeast, whenever I heard the commercial jingle "Bring out the Hellman's and bring out the best," I thought about how it clearly originated with the Best Foods version.
Ah, yeah, I grew up in northern VA and I remember the Roy's/Hardee's/Happy star transition - Hardee's was my parents' favorite fast food for a long time, and we also had a Roy Rogers in town (and a Bob's Big Boy, for that matter). When Hardee's bought RR, they actually closed the RR instead of rebranding it because the Hardee's was doing better, but our Hardee's put the fried chicken on the menu (and maybe the roast beef?). Then Carl's Jr. bought Hardee's and replaced the beloved blue and orange sign with that stupid star. I have always hated that star, and for an east coast kid who had no idea where it came from, it was just...weird.
Now I live in Canada where there is a burger chain called Harvey's with...a blue and orange sign. Doodoodoodoo...