What’s the Difference Between Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.?

Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s signs and menus look exactly alike—down to that cheery little star—but are they the same restaurant owned by someone who couldn’t decide on a name, or is the discrepancy the result of a turf war (à la the borders dividing Hellmann’s/Best Foods mayonnaise territory)?

The two burger chains started out as totally separate entities, one in the West and one in the East. Carl’s Jr. is the elder statesman of the two, founded as a Los Angeles hot dog stand in 1941 by Carl Karcher. Business thrived, and five years later there were five full-sized Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue restaurants, which by then had begun serving hamburgers. Before long, burgers were the chain’s bestselling menu item, so Karcher decided to open a separate group of small, quick-service burger joints (similar to today’s McDonald’s Express), dubbing them Carl’s Jr. 

In the ‘90s, Karcher’s partnership, CKE Restaurants, set its sights on another hamburger chain. Wilbur Hardee had opened his first restaurant in North Carolina in 1961; soon Hardee’s became a familiar fast food sight in the Midwest and South. Hardee’s corporate strategy was to open restaurants in smaller towns that were not served by McDonald’s or Burger King, and by all accounts, it paid off: by the early '90s, there were over 2,500 Hardee's locations, making it the country's fourth-largest fast food chain. 

Acquiring Hardee’s (for $327 million!) in 1997 was an opportunity for Carl’s Jr. to quietly expand into the East without agitating Hardee’s existing customers. They kept the name and, at first, the menu that folks were familiar with (it wasn't until the early aughts that they started to introduce Carl’s menu items to Hardee’s locations), and refurbished the existing buildings and signage. 

See Also: Hamburger Chain Locations Across the U.S.

The map above was designed by Chloe Effron and is based on this map by Gage Skidmore. Update (2016): Hardee's now has stores in New Jersey and New York.

The ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It

ChopBox
ChopBox

When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port. 

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 Kickstarter goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100-$120 if you pledge fast. You can back the ChopBox here.

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McDonald’s Is Testing Out Plastic-Free Restaurants in Germany and Canada

Tim Boyle/Getty Images
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The public pressure on corporations to adopt sustainable practices grows stronger by the day, but there’s no manual on how exactly they should do it. To give itself some room to experiment before committing to a global roll-out, McDonald’s is testing out plastic-free restaurants in Germany and Canada.

Food & Wine reports that the first location to go green was a McDonald’s in Germany’s Mall of Berlin, which the burger behemoth dubbed the Better McDonald’s Store for 10 days in June. While some changes were pretty standard—paper straws and wooden cutlery replaced their plastic counterparts, for example—others demonstrated a commendable level of creativity. Condiments came in edible waffle cups, and burgers were served in wrapping made from actual grass.

According to a press release, the Berlin trial was a way of allowing customers and stakeholders to contribute to the discussion and provide feedback so McDonald’s could adjust its large-scale game plan accordingly.

“Normally, McDonald’s goes out with perfect solutions,” Diana Wicht, the sustainability department head for McDonald’s Germany, explained in the press release. “This time we said ‘We don’t have perfect solutions yet … Please help us!”

McDonald's is implementing new sustainable options in some of its restaurants worldwide
McDonald's

Unsurprisingly, customers did have some thoughts. The grass packaging was a straightforward success, and the waffle cups had a fair number of fans, too—though some felt the shape of the cups could be better optimized for dipping McNuggets. Straws presented more of a conundrum, because most people acknowledge that while plastic straws are evil, paper straws disintegrate too quickly to be a workable solution; some customers suggested completely eliminating straws for patrons dining in the restaurant simply by serving lid-less drinks. Wooden cutlery, however, was a flop; one of every two customers surveyed said it tasted “woody.”

Overall, McDonald’s deemed the experiment a success, and has opened two comparable stores in Ontario and British Columbia to gauge Canadian customers' responses.

The fast-food giant has also sprinkled smaller sustainability changes in other stores around the globe. McDonald’s Canada swapped out its napkins for smaller ones manufactured from recycled fibers, and McDonald’s UK is in the process of ditching plastic McFlurry lids and replacing plastic salad containers with recyclable cardboard versions.

Hopefully, the McDonald’s sustainability overhaul will also lead to the invention of a McFlurry machine that doesn’t break down so often.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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