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Burger Chef

Burger Chef
Industry Restaurant
Fate Sold to Hardee's
Successor Hardee's
Founded 1954
Defunct 1996
Headquarters Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Products Hamburgers

Burger Chef was an American fast-food restaurant chain. It began operating in 1954 in Indianapolis, Indiana, expanded throughout the United States, and, at its peak in 1973, had 1,050 locations.[1] The chain featured several signature items, such as the Big Shef and Super Shef hamburgers.

In 1982, the General Foods Corporation, then-owners of the Burger Chef trademark and name, divested itself of the restaurant chain, gradually selling to the owners of Hardee's. The final restaurant to carry the Burger Chef name closed in 1996.


  • History 1
    • Trademark suit 1.1
  • Advertising 2
    • Slogans 2.1
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


A former 1970s-era Burger Chef in Essexville, Michigan, occupied by health offices, as seen in October 2008

In 1954, Frank and Donald Thomas patented the flame broiler in their parent company General Equipment Corporation and started their own restaurant in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1957, they opened their first Burger Chef.

Burger Chef spread across both the West and East Coasts—eventually becoming second only to McDonald's in number of locations. They offered a double burger, called the Big Shef, and later the quarter-pound hamburger, Super Shef. Subsequently, they added the Works Bar, where customers added their own toppings to hamburgers.

In 1968, General Foods Corporation purchased the chain and continued its rapid expansion. The chain had two mascots: Burger Chef (voiced by Paul Winchell) and Jeff (the chef's juvenile sidekick). In the early 1970s, the chain introduced the Funburger and the Funmeal, with packaging that included stories about Burger Chef and Jeff's adventures and friends (including the magician Burgerini, vampire Count Fangburger, talking ape Burgerilla, and Cackleburger the witch), with riddles, puzzles, and small toys. When McDonald's introduced their Happy Meal in 1979, the chain sued, but ultimately lost.

In 1982, General Foods sold Burger Chef to the Canadian company Imasco, which also owned Hardee's. Imasco converted many locations to Hardee's restaurants and let franchises and locations near existing Hardee's locations convert to other brands. Remaining restaurants that did not convert to Hardee's or new names and branding simply closed.

Hardee's brought back the Big Shef hamburger for a limited time in 2001, 2007, and 2014 at some Midwestern locations.[2][3]

In 2014 the final season of the television drama Mad Men featured the fictional ad agency Sterling Cooper & Partners pursuing Burger Chef as a client.[4]

Trademark suit

In January 2007, River West Brands, LLC, of Chicago, Illinois, sued Hardee's Food Systems in the US Patents and Trademarks Office, claiming "abandonment" of the Burger Chef trademark. On April 16, 2009, River West Brands dropped their petition for cancellation, and both parties agreed to pay their own attorneys' fees.[5]



  • Early 1980s – "Nowhere else but Burger Chef"[6]
  • Late 1970s – "We really give you the works."[7] and "Open Wide America, you never can forget. You get more to like at Burger Chef".
  • Mid 1970s – early 1980s – "You get more to like at Burger Chef."[8][9]
  • 1970s – "There's more to like at Burger Chef"[10] and "Burger Chef goes all out to please your family"[11]

See also


  1. ^ , John F. McDonald, John P. McDonaldLost Indianapolis
  2. ^ Hardee's(R) Brings Back Burger Chef(R) Big Shef(TM) Hamburger for a Limited Time in Select Markets PR Newswire. Retrieved Feb. 6, 2014.
  3. ^ Hardee’s(R) brings back the Burger Chef Big Shef for a LTO Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved Dec. 10, 2014
  4. ^ Dodds, Eric May 19, 2014 Mad Men: A Brief History of the Real-World Burger Chef Retrieved May 20, 2015
  5. ^ Withdrawal of Cancellation, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, US Patent and Trademark Office, 16 April 2009.
  6. ^ "Nowhere else but Burger Chef". Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "Burger Chef". Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  8. ^ "You get more to like at Burger Chef". Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  9. ^ "Double Delight (advertisement)". St. Petersburg Times. February 12, 1977. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  10. ^ "There's more to like at Burger Chef". Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  11. ^ "Triple Treat Yourself (advertisement)". The Owosso Argus-Press. December 17, 1970. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 

External links

  • Hardee's 'Burger Chef' Trademark challenge 2007
  • Burger Chef Sign
  • Burger Chef Building
  • Burger Chef Memories Site
  • Burger Chef TV Commercial VIDEO
  • Burger Chef Tribute Site
  • Burger Chef Former Locations
  • A History Of Burger Chef Systems
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