Sunday Ads: Be a Secret Agent and Win the Jackpot!

Written by on October 16, 2016 in Sunday Ads - 1 Comment
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Look at all the swell prizes a kid could win for being a Burger Chef secret agent back in 1966! (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

Look at all the swell prizes a kid could win for being a Burger Chef secret agent back in 1966! (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

Business:  Burger Chef Systems

 Date of Ad:  April 6, 1966

Location:  1300 West 16th Street and across the nation

Years of Operation: 1958-1996

Notable:  Over a dozen years before the Happy Meal, local fast food stalwart Burger Chef was in the game of enticing youth and their parent’s wallets to area restaurants with this secret agent contest. Burger Chef had to be the industry leader in gimmicks to attract children. The Fun Meal, established in the early 70’s, featured the cartoon characters Burger Chef and Jeff and included colorful boxes and toy prizes. Their Star Wars Star Wars remain a sought after collectible to this day.

Additionally:  In 1956 brothers Frank and Donald Thomas started a concept to promote their Sani-Serv line of ice cream machines and automatic flame broilers. Seeing how lucrative the fast food business was, they opened the first Burger Chef restaurant at 1300 west 16th Street in 1958. Using the franchising model, the chain grew to 1,200 locations by the late 1960’s, just a few French fries short of McDonald’s. The Thomas brothers sold out to General Foods in 1968. The chain suffered under new ownership and was sold again in 1982 to the parent company of Hardee’s. Slowly but surely restaurants converted or closed with the last holdout closing in 1996. Every once in awhile, local Hardee’s will roll out the Big Shef sandwich, but it’s just not the same!

These A frame buildings were commonplace in the 1960's. The television series Mad Men featured a fully restored building of this type in a recent season. (Courtesy eBay)

These A frame buildings were commonplace in the 1960’s. The television series Mad Men featured a fully restored building of this type in a recent season. (Image: eBay)

Merchandising was a key component to the success of Burger Chef. You could even have your location along your H-O scale railway! (Courtesy eBay)

Merchandising was a key component to the success of Burger Chef. You could even have your location along your H-O scale railway! (Image: eBay)

Burger Chef and his sidekick Jeff were the animated spokesmen of Burger Chef throughout the late 60's and 70's. (Courtesy eBay)

Burger Chef and his sidekick Jeff were the animated spokesmen of Burger Chef throughout the late 60’s and 70’s. (Image: eBay)

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About the Author

An avid runner who enjoys daily jaunts throughout Indy's historic neighborhoods, Jeff deeply appreciates the detail and workmanship of old architecture. So much so, that he lives downtown in a restored historic building. He also works downtown as a manager of a not-for-profit that promotes globalization throughout Central Indiana. In a past life, Jeff worked in the hospitality industry and may one day pen a book about the ridiculous things people do while staying in hotels. Stay tuned.

One Comment on "Sunday Ads: Be a Secret Agent and Win the Jackpot!"

  1. Jimmy Kenney October 25, 2016 at 2:40 am · Reply

    Nice review of a once great place, Jeff. Who knows what may have happened if the Thomas brothers hadn’t sold out in 1968…thanks for your good work!

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