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The Original Locations of 15 More Food Chains

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FourSquare

Last month, we took you on a tour of 15 original locations of famous fast food chains. We found 15 more spots for the burger and fry tourists out there.

1. Sonic (215 N Main St — Stillwater, Oklahoma)

After discovering that his burger joint’s name was already trademarked, Top Hat Drive-In owner Troy N. Smith Sr. renamed his Oklahoma chain "Sonic Drive-In" in 1959. Though it was not the original Top Hat location, the first Sonic sign arrived at the Stillwater restaurant and that’s where it remains today. The service might not actually be “with the speed of sound,” as the sign states, but you can drown that disappointment in half-price drinks and slushes from 2 to 4 PM each day.

2. Kentucky Fried Chicken (3890 S. State Street — Salt Lake City, Utah)

Wikimedia Commons

Colonel Harland Sanders began selling fried chicken made with his secret recipe from a roadside restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky during the Great Depression. It wasn’t until 1952, however, that Sanders opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken in Utah. The Salt Lake City location is still a KFC and boasts a display showcasing one of the Colonel’s trademark white suits and a statue of him and Dave Thomas, an early franchise owner who came up with the “rotating bucket” sign (and founded his own fast food chain, Wendy’s).

3. Panda Express (3214 Glendale Galleria — Glendale, California)

Hawaiian location via Wikimedia Commons

In 1973, Chinese immigrants Andrew Cherng and his father Ming Tsai Cherng opened the Panda Inn restaurant in Pasadena, California. After ten years of providing the Los Angeles area with upscale sit-down meals, management for the Glendale Galleria asked the Cherngs to consider creating a fast-food version of their restaurant. They agreed, and now no trip to the mall is complete without a delicious free sample of unidentifiable goodness.

4. Subway (North End — Bridgeport, Connecticut)

Subway.com

Looking for a way to pay for college, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca borrowed $1000 from Dr. Peter Buck and opened Pete’s Super Submarines in Bridgeport, Connecticut. By 1968, just three years after the restaurant’s inception, the two added four shops and shortened the name to Subway. DeLuca never became the doctor he set out to be, but he did receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Bridgeport in 2002. The original Subway is no longer there, but those looking to “Eat Fresh” have over 40,000 other locations to choose from.

5. Little Caesars (32594 Cherry Hill Rd — Garden City, Michigan)

Yelp

In 1959, brothers Mike and Marshall Ilitch opened the first Little Caesars in a Garden City, Michigan strip mall. Mike wanted to call it "Pizza Cheap," but Marshall (and good sense) won out with Little Caesar’s Pizza Treat. While the name was shortened, the demand for their “Pizza! Pizza!” has stayed strong. In 2008, Little Caesars filled an order from the VF Corporation for 13,386 pizzas. You can still pick up a “Hot-n-Ready” ‘za from the original location, but as one Yelp-user remarked, “It should be ‘hot and ready in 8 minutes.’" Et tu, Dave K?

6. Jamba Juice (17 Chorro Street, Suite C — San Luis Obispo, California)

Yelp

Jamba Juice began as Juice Club in 1990 when Kirk Perron opened his first storefront in San Luis Obispo, California. In 1995, the name was changed to Jamba Juice and four years later the company went national with its acquisition of Zuka Juice, Inc. The first Jamba Juice is still up and running, in case you feel like a smoothie and some history next time you’re in San Luis Obispo.

7. In-N-Out (The intersection of Interstate 10 and Francisquito Avenue — Baldwin Park, California)

Wikimedia Commons

The first In-N-Out was built in 1948 when Harry and Esther Snyder set out to "Give customers the freshest, highest quality foods you can buy and provide them with friendly service in a sparkling clean environment." The original location was demolished so Interstate 10 could be built, so you'll have to get your "animal style" fix at another location.

8. Tim Hortons (65 Ottawa Street N. — Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)

Google Maps

The first Tim Hortons was founded under the name Tim Horton Donuts in 1964. The owner, a professional hockey player, was a member of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite being an active athlete, Horton was able to juggle both careers thanks to his business partner Ron Joyce, a former Hamilton police constable. Tim Horton Donuts was eventually shortened to "Tim Horton's," which was eventually further truncated to "Tim Hortons" to maintain uniformity in the name of all their locations while also complying with the language laws of Quebec. The original location still operates as a Tim Hortons, but Ottawa Street N is now honorarily named "Tim Hortons Way."

9. Five Guys (3235 Columbia Pike — Arlington, Va)

Later Virginia location, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1986, Jerry and Janie Murrell, along with four other guys (their sons), founded Five Guys. The couple had advised the boys to “start a business or go to college.” The first restaurant was located in the Westmont Shopping Center—which was also home to Brenner’s Bakery, where the Murrells originally got their rolls. Five Guys no longer calls the Arlington, Virginia shopping center home, but they maintain a strong presence in Northern Virginia, where the first five Five Guys were opened.

10. Dairy Queen (501 N. Chicago Street — Joliet, Illinois)

Noble Stores

Two years after they invented the revolutionary formula for soft-serve ice cream in 1938, father and son duo John Fremont “Grandpa” and Bradley McCullough opened the very first Dairy Queen along with a former customer, Sheb Noble. The three knew they were onto something when the ice cream store sold over 1600 servings of the McCullough’s new treat in just two hours.

11. Jack In The Box (6270 El Cajon Boulevard — San Diego, California)

Jack in the Box

Robert O. Peterson opened the first Jack in the Box in 1951 when he converted his existing drive-in restaurant into a drive-thru. With its two-way intercom and pickup window, Jack in the Box made fast food even faster. Where the first Jack in the Box once stood is now Platt College San Diego. The private for-profit college does not have a mascot or an athletic program to go with it, but perhaps they can adopt the terrifying clown that once sat atop the location.

12. Benihana (47 W. 56th Street — New York, New York)

Wikimedia Commons 

In 1964, 25-year-old Hiroaki “Rocky” Aoki took the money he made driving an ice cream truck in Harlem and opened the first Benihana. New Yorkers were initially wary of dining at the hibachi restaurant, but after it received positive reviews, people were much more open to the idea of sitting near a hot surface with strangers while their chef threw their food around. The Beatles, Muhammad Ali, and other notables have dined at the original location, which is still in business today.

13. Carrabba’s Italian Grill (3115 Kirby Drive — Houston, Texas)

Google Maps

Johnny Carrabba and his uncle Damian Mandola opened the first Carrabba’s Italian Grill in 1986. As they claim on their website, they’re not real chefs, but rather “real eaters,” and their restaurant was such a success that another location opened in Houston soon after. By 1993, Carrabba and Mandola were in a joint venture with Outback Steakhouse, Inc. (now Bloomin’ Brands) and two years after that, Outback Steakhouse, Inc. purchased the rights to develop the chain nationwide. The first (and second) Carrabba’s are still owned and operated by the Carrabba family.

14. Chick-fil-A (2841 Greenbriar Parkway SW — Atlanta, Georgia)

Yelp

The first Chick-fil-A opened in Atlanta’s Greenbriar Mall in 1967, six years after S. Truett Cathy, the chain’s Chairman and CEO, invented the chicken sandwich while working at Dwarf House, his Hapeville, Georgia restaurant. At first, Cathy referred to his burger alternative as a “chicken steak” sandwich, but ended up replacing “steak” with “fillet,” a word he found more appealing. Both the original Chick-fil-A and Dwarf House restaurants are still open for business—unless, of course, it’s a Sunday.

15. Fuddruckers (8602 Botts Lane — San Antonio, Texas)

Google Maps

Philip J. Romano—the father of Romano’s Macaroni Grill—founded Fuddruckers in 1979 because he believed, “the world needed a better hamburger.” The restaurant began as Freddie Fuddruckers, and it opened in a former bank.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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technology
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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iStock
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Live Smarter
Working Nights Could Keep Your Body from Healing
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iStock

The world we know today relies on millions of people getting up at sundown to go put in a shift on the highway, at the factory, or in the hospital. But the human body was not designed for nocturnal living. Scientists writing in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine say working nights could even prevent our bodies from healing damaged DNA.

It’s not as though anybody’s arguing that working in the dark and sleeping during the day is good for us. Previous studies have linked night work and rotating shifts to increased risks for heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and car accidents. In 2007, the World Health Organization declared night work “probably or possibly carcinogenic.”

So while we know that flipping our natural sleep/wake schedule on its head can be harmful, we don’t completely know why. Some scientists, including the authors of the current paper, think hormones have something to do with it. They’ve been exploring the physiological effects of shift work on the body for years.

For one previous study, they measured workers’ levels of 8-OH-dG, which is a chemical byproduct of the DNA repair process. (All day long, we bruise and ding our DNA. At night, it should fix itself.) They found that people who slept at night had higher levels of 8-OH-dG in their urine than day sleepers, which suggests that their bodies were healing more damage.

The researchers wondered if the differing 8-OH-dG levels could be somehow related to the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate our body clocks. They went back to the archived urine from the first study and identified 50 workers whose melatonin levels differed drastically between night-sleeping and day-sleeping days. They then tested those workers’ samples for 8-OH-dG.

The difference between the two sleeping periods was dramatic. During sleep on the day before working a night shift, workers produced only 20 percent as much 8-OH-dG as they did when sleeping at night.

"This likely reflects a reduced capacity to repair oxidative DNA damage due to insufficient levels of melatonin,” the authors write, “and may result in cells harbouring higher levels of DNA damage."

DNA damage is considered one of the most fundamental causes of cancer.

Lead author Parveen Bhatti says it’s possible that taking melatonin supplements could help, but it’s still too soon to tell. This was a very small study, the participants were all white, and the researchers didn't control for lifestyle-related variables like what the workers ate.

“In the meantime,” Bhatti told Mental Floss, “shift workers should remain vigilant about following current health guidelines, such as not smoking, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of sleep and exercise.”

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