Burger Book Report: Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food

Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast FoodYup, somebody wrote it – so cross another possible topic of your list of books you’ll write someday. Andrew F. Smith (and an Advisory Board!) have put together an exhaustive list of everything that your mother said you shouldn’t eat, your doctor said you should eat in moderation and your inner voices tell you to eat daily. From A (A&W Root Beer) to Y (Yum! Brands – sorry, no Z), this is a great book to lose a few hours in.

On the burger front, this book lays out the history of most of the big chains we all know and love. The back history to many of them might not be as well known as the Ray Kroc McDonald’s story, so this is a great source for useless facts to impress your other burger loving friends.

To whet your appetite, here are a few:

  • Hardee’s was founded by Wilbur Hardee in Greenville, NC in 1960. Hardee was bought out 1 year later by J. Leonard Rawls and James Carson Gardner.
  • The first Happy Meal was launched in 1973 by the Burger Chef chain. McDonald’s launched their version in 1978.
  • Popeye’s burger loving friend Wimpy has a full name – J. Wellington Wimpy.
  • In 2002, McDonald’s outlets in Norway introduced a “McAfrika Burger,” which was pulled when protesters brought to light the rampant starvation among residents of the continent.

and on and on for 300+ pages. Smith also includes recommendations for additional reading, which has brought to light a ton of burger related reading that I have so far missed.

As for Mr. Smith – his bio lists him as “an independent scholar and speaker specializing in education, history and culinary themes.” He has written about popcorn, tomatoes and peanuts and was the editor in chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. Sounds like a cool gig.

It is a bit pricey on amazon.com ($68.00) but you may find it like I did, sitting sadly untouched at your local library.

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