Did you know that Wimpy were the original American fast-food franchise? Maybe not, which will mean you are probably not as old as me. Fun fact I once had a birthday party at Wimpy UK. I still remember Mr Wimpy making my day!
Where can I get a one then? Hold your horses, original does not mean successful.
Remember MySpace? I think anyone that does slightly regrets jumping over and giving Facebook the power it has now. They had the original idea, Facebook did it better. We introduce the burger version of MySpace!
The history of Wimpy!
Itwas established in 1935 in the USA, yes this makes it older than McDonalds. In the US it was never huge, reaching 25 stores at its peak, but they were innovators international franchising.
Wimpy International and Wimpy UK
In 1954 Wimpy started franchising internationally, particularly to the UK. Eventually the brand had over 1500 locations throughout the world, mostly in the UK. The company also moved to England and essentially became a bit of an institution.
The company offering both table service locations as well as what we would now call “fast food” restaurants. Sounds greta right? Well this was to partly prove its downfall.
Cometh the Big Mac
McDonalds entered the UK at the end of the 1970’s and to cut a long story short severely cut the grass of Wimpy Burger. Sales would then continue to dwindle until the end of the 1980’s, but not before I had had my birthday party there!
To read about which countries do and don’t have McDonalds click here .
Why was McDonalds more popular? Not all Wimpy restaurants were of the “fast food” variety, some were table service. This was the age of fast food though. Also McDonalds had a clearer and more precise recipe. Also quality would vary much more greatly than at McDonalds.
Ironically it was not be McDonalds that dealt the death knell to Wimpy, but their arch nemesis!
Cometh the Whopper
With sales dwindling at the end of the 1980’s Wimpy decided to sell up to a company called Diageo , yep those guys. At that point they had 381 fast food joints. Sadly Diageo had acquired the UK rights for Burger King the previous year. Wimpy was out and Burger King was in.
To read about which countries have Burger King click here .
I remember being quite perplexed as a 9 year old kid and seeing that Mr Wimpy had left the scene. And to be replaced by Burger King!
Table service Wimpy Continues
Whilst they had sole the fast food joints, they had kept the 200, or so table service restaurants, as well as 140+ worldwide franchises. But the end was fast approaching.
Its history since then saw them converting many stores into Dr Beeks , a poor KFC clone, to take on KFC and buyout after buyout, leaving very little of the original stores open.
To read about which countries have KFC click here .
Is Wimpy Still around today??
In the UK they still very much exists, and I can remember spending many an hour I should have been in school smoking and hanging out. They are still table service and have that 1950’s American diner aura to them (kinda).
Many UK cities still have at least one sit down joints. They are cheap and bums like myself when I was at school like to hang out there. Essentially they are located in the now dying high streets of the UK and in less than desirable locations. All are now franchises rather than company owned. which throws up the mystery what will I get angle they now have.
What does/did Wimpy sell?
Burgers, fries and the like. Again they were the first real Burger Franchise in the UK.
They also sold something called a bender. Bender is UK slang for a homosexual. A bender was kind of sausage. I remember laughing a lot as a teen at the prospect of eating a bender in a bun. Remember being young and easily pleased?
If you think that is bad read here about the Faggot .
And that is the story of Wimpy, the guys who could have been Burger King’s (see what I did there). They do though exist still not only in our hearts, but still in the odd crap city centre.