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.

KFC's New Firelog Makes Your House Smell Like Fried Chicken

KFC
KFC

The classic yule log has received updates from Star Wars, Nick Offerman, and Lil Bub over the years. This holiday season, why not stoke your fireplace with a log from the folks at KFC? As KRON reports, the fast food chain has produced its own firelog that releases the scent of Kentucky fried chicken when ignited.

The KFC 11 Herbs and Spices log is the best way to fill your house with delectable fried chicken smells without ordering takeout. Made in collaboration with Enviro-Log, it contains 100 percent-recycled materials and burns for up to three hours. KFC warns buyers that burning the log "may result in a craving for fried chicken," and that it "may attract bears or neighbors who are hungry." Despite the mouthwatering aroma, the KFC firelog is not safe to eat.

KFC and Christmas may seem like an odd pairing, but it's an annual holiday tradition in other parts of the world. In Japan, KFC has been a Christmastime staple for decades, with customers placing orders for buckets of "Christmas chicken" months ahead of the holiday.

The KFC log went on sale for $19 on Thursday, December 14, and it's already sold out from the online store, but keep checking back to see if they've restocked them.

It likely won't be the last scented novelty product we see from the brand: KFC has previously released a candle, nail polish, and sunscreen all made to smell like its famous fried bird.

[h/t KRON]

Where to Score Free Treats For National Cupcake Day

iStock.com/RuthBlack
iStock.com/RuthBlack

December is a magical time of year, and not just because of all the winter holidays. A few days on the calendar this month cater to those of us with a sweet tooth, and we can’t say we’re complaining. National Cookie Day fell on December 4, followed by National Brownie Day on December 8, and we still have National Cupcake Day to look forward to tomorrow, December 15. Because if you’re already planning to indulge in Christmas cookies and cake, why not go all out?

The icing on the cake is that a few bakeries across the country will be handing out free cupcakes tomorrow. Sprinkles Cupcakes will be giving away a limited edition strawberry cupcake with rainbow sprinkles to the first 100 visitors at each of its bakeries, which are located in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, Florida, New York, and Washington, D.C. The bakery will also be doing “impromptu cupcake drop-offs” around New York City tomorrow.

Baked by Melissa also promises customers a free cupcake of their choosing at any of its 14 outlets in the New York City region, according to Metro. The company will also post information about a cupcake giveaway to its Instagram page tomorrow, and you can participate by tagging a friend in the comments. Two winners will receive a “Superstar” pack of 50 cupcakes.

If you happen to live in Cleveland, LaBella Cupcakes is taking a unique approach to the holiday and launching a scavenger hunt at 10 a.m. tomorrow. It will take participants to 10 historic locations around the city, and the person who solves the clues the fastest will take home a dozen free cupcakes. Check out the company's Instagram and Facebook pages for more details. 

There’s also a chance one of your local, non-chain bakeries will be hosting a promotion, so it’s worth visiting their website or social media pages to see if there are some freebies you can take advantage of. 

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