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9 of History's Most Creative Political Insults

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Take note, politicians: If you’re going to tear your rival a new one, at least use some imagination. Calling the other person a “loser” just doesn't cut it. Instead, take a note from these world leaders, who treated insults like an art form.


The Insulter: U.S. presidential hopeful Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965)
The Target: Vice presidential nominee Richard Nixon (1913-1994)
The Context: In 1952, Stevenson was in the midst of an unsuccessful campaign against Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. All the while, Tricky Dick—known as Ike’s “hatchet man”—painted the Democrat as being soft on communism. “Stevenson,” Nixon sometimes quipped, “holds a Ph.D. degree from Acheson’s College of Cowardly Communist Containment.”

His character assaulted, Stevenson took aim at Nixon’s. Those close to Eisenhower’s running mate reported that the “redwood” comment really made Nixon bristle, but it achieved nothing. In the electoral college, Stevenson ultimately lost by 353 votes. Four years later, he ran against Eisenhower and Nixon again—and lost by an even larger margin.


The Insulter: U.S. Congressman Jack Kemp (1935-2009)
The Target: Senator Bob Dole (1923- )
The Context: This scathing witticism was also an epic comeback. The year was 1985. Kemp, then a Republican congressman from New York, had helped convince President Reagan to refrain from supporting a bill that would’ve made $300 billion-worth of spending cuts—and freeze Social Security benefits. At the time, Kemp feared that these measures might seriously hurt the G.O.P.’s image.

Reagan heeded this advice and the bill was never passed. The following year, the Republicans lost their majority in the Senate. Many on the right blamed Kemp for this mini-disaster—including Bob Dole of Kansas. At a young Republicans meeting, Dole took aim at his colleague’s pretty boy image. “Kemp,” he said, “wants a business deduction for hair spray.” Hearing this, the New Yorker retorted, “In a recent fire, Bob Dole’s library burned down. Both books were lost. And he hadn’t even finished coloring one of them.”

Years later, these two put their differences aside and shared the 1996 Republican presidential ticket. By the way, that campaign’s original website is still up & running. Enjoy the nostalgia, political junkies!


Image composite: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

The Insulter: Congressman John F. Mercer (1759-1821)
The Target: U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)
The Context: A native of Virginia, Mercer represented that state in the Continental Congress and was also sent as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, this time representing Maryland. He refused to sign the document, but continued with his political career, and by 1792, he was working in the U.S. House of Representatives as a congressman from Maryland.

That year, he was running for a second term. An outspoken anti-Federalist, Mercer played to his base by trashing the founder of said party, U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. At one speech, the congressman really ripped into Hamilton, calling him corrupt and a servant to the economic elite. Still more inflammatory was Mercer’s remark that the original Federalist was “a mushroom excrescence” unfit for his current post.

Bad move. As the Marylander soon found out, Hamilton took personal attacks very seriously. Following a heated exchange of letters, the Secretary marched over to Mercer’s Philadelphia home and insisted that he take back all of his remarks. Worn down, Mercer retracted enough to appease Hamilton—thus avoiding a possible duel.


The Insulter: House of Commons conservative Winston Churchill (1874-1965).
The Target: Prime Minister James Ramsay MacDonald (1866-1937).
The Context: Churchill was not a known mincer of words. On March 23, 1933, he hacked away at MacDonald during a well-received address given at the House of Commons.

Britain’s first Labour Prime Minister, MacDonald was widely criticized for his lackluster oratory skills, as he tended to ramble. “We have heard him on so many topics,” Churchill lamented, “from India to unemployment and many other matters, providing us, apparently, with an inexhaustible flow of vague, well-sounding exhortation, the precise purpose of which is largely wrapped in mystery.” Faced with mounting opposition, an economic crisis, and Hitler’s rising Germany, MacDonald stepped down in 1935.


The Insulter: Martin Luther (1483-1546)
The Target: King Henry VIII (1491-1547).
The Context: In 1521, Henry VIII published a strongly-worded book entitled Assertio Septem Sacramentorum, or Defense of the Seven Sacraments. Written in Latin, the pro-Catholic treatise makes the case against Martin Luther’s radical theology. (Though Henry would later get two annulments and have two other wives killed, Defense of the Seven Sacraments considers marriage indissoluble.)

Henry VIII’s arguments brought on cheers from Rome—Pope Leo X even proclaimed him “Defender of the Faith.” Meanwhile, Luther fumed. Outraged by the monarch’s rhetoric, he published a scathing rebuttal called Against Henry King of the English in 1521. Not content to merely call the one of the most powerful men in Europe a “liar,” Luther added that Henry VIII was “a pig, an ass, a dung hill, the spawn of an adder, a basilisk, a lying buffoon dressed in a king’s robes, a mad fool with a frothy mouth and a whorish face.” 

Three years later, Luther offered the King an olive branch. In a futile attempt to sway Henry VIII away from Catholicism, the theologian took back his insults. Henry’s response was as cold as cold gets: The royal blamed Luther for the deaths of 70,000 protestants in the Peasant’s War and said that Luther had corrupted his own wife, a former nun.


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The Insulter: Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating (1944- )
The Target: Treasurer Peter Costello (1957- )
The Context: When Costello, the longest-serving treasurer in Australia’s history to date, stepped down in November 2007, the liberal had occupied this position for over 11 years. A few months before Costello left office, Keating—who served as Prime Minister from 1991 to 1996—was asked by ABC Radio for his thoughts on this accomplished public servant. “The thing about poor old Costello is he is all tip and no iceberg,” Keating said. Disappointed in Costello’s apparent unwillingness to confront then-Prime Minister John Howard, he added that the treasurer “never gets the sword out.”


The Insulter: U.S. Speaker of the House Thomas Brackett Reed (1839-1902)
The Target: Two congressional colleagues
The Context: Czar” Reed (as he came to be known) ran a tight ship. A Republican from Maine, he was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1876. Quickly rising through the ranks, Reed became Speaker when the GOP took over the House 13 years later. As Speaker, Reed enforced stricter quorum rules that would forever change the way business was done on Capitol Hill.

The New Englander was also renowned for his dry humor. Once, fed up with two other congressmen and their constant tongue wagging, Reed looked at his Sergeant-at-Arms and boomed, “They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.”


Image composite: Getty Images

The Insulter: French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929)
The Target: French President Raymond Poincaré (1860-1934)
The Context: Clemenceau made this cutting remark in 1921 after an operation for appendicitis. By then, it was an opinion that he’d held for years. The conservative Poincaré often found himself at odds with Clemenceau, who headed the left-wing Radical Party and ran a popular liberal newspaper.  Nevertheless, as a show of national unity, the President tapped his rival to become Prime Minister in 1917—three years into World War I.  

Despite this gesture, the two persistently held each other in mutual contempt. One entry in Poincaré’s diary calls Clemenceau a “Madman … Old, moronic, [and] vain.” For his part, the older radical was more open about his dislike of the President. Poincaré, Clemenceau told a friend, was “a lively little beast, dry, disagreeable, and not courageous. This prudence has preserved it up to the present day—a somewhat unpleasant animal, as you see, of which—luckily—only one specimen is known.”


The Insulter: Former Senator Paul Tsongas (1941-1997)
The Target: Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton (1946- )
The Context: Tsongas was betrayed by his own accent. A product of Lowell, Massachusetts, he helped represent the Bay State in the House of Representatives from 1975 to 1979. After that, he moved on to a six-year Senate stint.

In 1992, Tsongas was running against Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. During the Florida primary, he came up with a zoological zinger. Seeing his opponent as a flip-flopper, Tsongas thought he’d get a few laughs by calling the Arkansan a “pander bear.” In a speech, he took the stage and tried out the brilliant new line. 

There was just one problem. With a Boston dialect like Tsongas’s, the “R” sound usually gets replaced with an “Ah.” So, when the Massachusetts native said “pander,” almost everyone thought they’d heard “panda.” Failing to catch the joke, his live audience just stood there in an awkward silence—until Tsongas clarified: “You know, not a panda bear, but a pander bear.” Clinton won the primary. 

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Christie's Images Ltd. 2017
Abraham Lincoln Letter About Slavery Could Fetch $700,000 at Auction
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Christie's Images Ltd. 2017

The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, in which future president Abraham Lincoln spent seven debates discussing the issue of slavery with incumbent U.S. senator Stephen Douglas, paved the way for Lincoln’s eventual ascent to the presidency. Now part of that history can be yours, as the AP reports.

A signed letter from Lincoln to his friend Henry Asbury dated July 31, 1858 explores the “Freeport Question” he would later pose to Douglas during the debates, forcing the senator to publicly choose between two contrasting views related to slavery’s expansion in U.S. territories: whether it should be up to the people or the courts to decide where slavery was legal. (Douglas supported the popular choice argument, but that position was directly counter to the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision.)

The first page of a letter from Abraham Lincoln to Henry Asbury
Christie's Images Ltd. 2017

In the letter, Lincoln was responding to advice Asbury had sent him on preparing for his next debate with Douglas. Asbury essentially framed the Freeport Question for the politician. In his reply, Lincoln wrote that it was a great question, but would be difficult to get Douglas to answer:

"You shall have hard work to get him directly to the point whether a territorial Legislature has or has not the power to exclude slavery. But if you succeed in bringing him to it, though he will be compelled to say it possesses no such power; he will instantly take ground that slavery can not actually exist in the territories, unless the people desire it, and so give it protective territorial legislation."

Asbury's influence didn't end with the debates. A founder of Illinois's Republican Party, he was the first to suggest that Lincoln should run for president in 1860, and secured him the support of the local party.

The letter, valued at $500,000 to $700,000, is up for sale as part of a books and manuscripts auction that Christie’s will hold on December 5.

[h/t Associated Press]

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The Origin Stories of 25 of Your Favorite Fast Food Chains
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Curious how your favorite fast food joint became a mainstay at food courts, strip malls, and truck stops around the country? Read on to learn the origin stories of 25 famous chain restaurants.


The front exterior of a Taco Bell restaurant

Before he launched a Tex-Mex empire, Taco Bell founder Glen Bell ran a group of hamburger and hot dog stands in the San Bernardino, California area. Bell, himself, liked Mexican food, and had noticed the success of a neighboring diner called Mitla Cafe, which sold tacos made with hard fried shells. Wrapping and frying an individual taco was a lengthy process, so Bell asked a chicken coop maker to create him a frying gadget. To expedite service, he began selling his own version of the street food made with preformed fried shells.

Customers liked Bell's tacos so much that in 1954 he and a partner founded a Mexican-style restaurant called Taco Tia. The partner didn't want to expand beyond three restaurants, so Bell found himself new partners and opened yet another short-lived taco business, El Taco, before finally going solo.

Bell used a $4000 investment to open the very first Taco Bell in Downey, California, in 1962. PepsiCo eventually purchased the burgeoning chain in 1965 for around $125 million.


The front exterior of a White Castle restaurant

One of the the nation's very first (if not the first) fast food chains was White Castle, the restaurant whose sliders were immortalized by a very hungry Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) in the 2004 film Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Not only did the chain inspire an infamous stoner flick, it may have also paved the way for the entire fast food industry's existence, along with the standard hamburger patty we know and love today.

In either 1915 or 1916, fry cook Walter Anderson in Wichita, Kansas, invented the first flat ground-beef patty. (This reportedly occurred during a moment of frustration, during which Anderson used a spatula to smash a meatball stuck to the griddle). Shortly after that, Anderson used an $80 loan to found a hamburger stand, and his business quickly expanded to include several locations.

W.E. "Billy" Ingram—a local real estate broker who'd go on to become CEO—invested in Anderson's scheme, and in 1921, the two launched a chain that sold sacks of 5-cent burgers. They named the business White Castle so their food would become synonymous with images of cleanliness and order.


The front exterior of a Bojangles restaurant

By the time Jack Fulk and Richard Thomas founded the first Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits in 1977, the two were already established figures in the fast food industry. Thomas was Kentucky Fried Chicken's former president of operations and had once been in charge of 600 stores. As for Fulk, he'd owned a Hardee's franchise in North Carolina, where he became skilled at making biscuits and putting his own spin on the corporate recipe.

Fulk's recipe tinkering got him in trouble with Hardee's, but ultimately paved the way for Bojangles' success: When he, along with Thomas, opened up the flagship Bojangles in Charlotte, North Carolina, sales jumped 60 percent once they added Fulk's signature baked goods to the menu. Today, Bojangles locations can be found in 11 mostly Southern states, in addition to Washington, D.C.


The exterior of a Quiznos restaurant

Before restaurateur Jimmy Lambatos sold toasted sandwiches, he cooked steaks as executive chef at the now-closed Colorado Mine Co. steakhouse in Glendale, Colorado. In 1978, Lambatos left to start his own venture, an Italian restaurant called Footers, and three years later he and partner Todd Disner opened the first Quiznos in Denver. According to Lambatos, the eatery's toasted subs were a throwback to the oven-baked sandwiches he ate as a kid in New York.

By the 1980s, there were 18 Quiznos locations, but Lambatos and Disner would eventually sell their business to father-and-son franchisees Dick and Rick Schaden. Lambatos would later appear in Quiznos commercials and serve as company spokesman.


The front exterior of a Sbarro restaurant

Long before it became a food court staple, Sbarro was a bona fide Italian grocery, or "salumeria," in Brooklyn, run by founders Gennaro and Carmela "Mama" Sbarro. The immigrants from Naples founded the flagship store in 1956, but it initially only sold Italian meats and cheeses.

To feed hungry shift workers, pizza was eventually added to the business’s deli menu. But when the Sbarros launched a second store in a local shopping mall, they realized that people wanted to eat Italian food on-site. Sensing a business opportunity, the Sbarro family developed a cafeteria-style adaptation of their grocery. The first Sbarro franchise opened in the late 1970s, and new locations eventually popped up in malls, airports, movie theaters, hospitals, food courts, and universities around the country.

Gennaro Sbarro died in 1984, and in 2004 Carmela Sbarro had a stroke, which prompted her family to eventually close their original Brooklyn store. The Sbarro family sold its share in the company in the late 2000s, but their legacy—and Mama Sbarro's vision—lives on.


The front exterior of a Waffle House

In the mid 1950s, Joe Rogers, a regional manager for now-defunct national restaurant chain the Toddle House, and Tom Forkner, who worked in real estate, decided their small Atlanta suburb needed a 24-hour diner. The two neighbors opened up the very first Waffle House in Avondale Estates, Georgia, in 1955, and by 1961 the fledgling chain had grown to include four to five restaurants.

Both Rogers and Forkner left their jobs to devote their full attention to the expanding enterprise, which they named Waffle House, as waffles were their main money-maker. The two retired as managers in the 1970s, after which Rogers's son was named president and CEO.


The exterior of a Wendy's restaurant

Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas had dreamed of owning a restaurant since he was a kid, eating meals with his adopted father at five-and-dime stores. After earning valuable experience as a regional director for Kentucky Fried Chicken, Thomas opened the first Wendy's restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, in 1969, after noting that the city’s downtown area lacked a good hamburger joint.

Thomas named his burger restaurant after his young daughter, Melinda, who was nicknamed "Wendy" since she couldn’t pronounce the "L" in her name. Wendy's signature pigtailed girl is modeled after her likeness.

Thomas, however, is perhaps just as recognizable as his daughter, as he’d go on to star in more than 800 Wendy's TV commercials, even after stepping down from the company in 1982.


The front exterior of a P.F. Chang's restaurant

P.F. Chang's was founded by Philip Chiang, the son of notable Chinese restaurateur Cecilia Chang (she's been called "the Julia Child of Chinese cooking") and his business partner Paul Fleming. As a young man, Chiang, who studied art, couldn't find a job. So he followed in his mother's culinary footsteps and worked at her restaurant, The Mandarin, before opening up his own casual Chinese joint called Mandarette. It was there that he met Fleming, a customer who happened to own the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse franchise in California.

The two became friends, and when Fleming moved to Arizona for work, he told Chiang that there weren't any good Chinese restaurants in the state. He recruited Chiang to help him found one, and in 1993 the two launched the very first P.F. Chang's (a combination of Fleming's initials and an Anglicized form of Chiang's last name) in a shopping mall in Scottsdale, Arizona.


The front exterior of a Chipotle restaurant

Chipotle's founder, Steve Ells, is a bona fide chef. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1990 before working as a sous chef at Stars, a now-closed San Francisco hotspot. Stars put a premium on fresh ingredients and came equipped with an open, immaculate kitchen. Ells borrowed these details to launch his own Mission-style burrito joint in Denver, as the Bay Area staple was growing in popularity.

Founded in 1993, Chipotle was originally intended to be a precursor to Ells opening up his own fine dining restaurant. But business was so good, he kept at it and ended up building the foundations for the chain we recognize today.

10. IN-N-OUT

The front exterior of an In-N-Out restaurant

Founded in 1948, In-N-Out was California's very first drive-thru hamburger stand. It was the brainchild of newlyweds Esther and Harry Snyder, who worked in tandem to run the business. To speed up operations, Harry Snyder reportedly installed the very first two-way speaker system for drive-thru ordering, thus eliminating the need for carhops.


The front exterior of a Sonic restaurant

Sonic, America's largest chain of drive-ins, started as a single root beer stand in Shawnee, Oklahoma, called Top Hat. Founder Troy Smith was a young military vet who made a foray into the restaurant business after leaving the Army Air Forces and working for a brief period as a milk truck driver.

Top Hat, which Smith opened in 1953, was by far the most successful of his multiple establishments, so the entrepreneur closed his other eateries and doubled down on its growth. The secret to the stand's success may have been its car-to-kitchen intercom, a technology Smith borrowed from a fast-food joint he encountered on the Texas-Louisiana border. By 1959, Smith had renamed his stand Sonic and coined the slogan "Service with the Speed of Sound."


The front exterior of a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant

In 1951, Robert O. Peterson opened the first Jack in the Box restaurant in San Diego, California, on the main highway leading into the city. Around a decade prior, he'd founded a local fast food chain called Oscar's (previously called Topsy's Drive-In), with circus-themed decorations. But when Peterson learned about two-way intercom technology, he purchased the rights from another restaurateur, mounted the intercom inside a plastic clown, and converted an already-existing Oscar's location into a new establishment that allowed customers to place their order before picking up their food at the window. This expedited the entire drive-thru process.


The front exterior of a Popeyes restaurant

Chicken on the Run, the original precursor to Popeyes, was opened in Arabi, Louisiana, in 1972. It was intended to compete with Kentucky Fried Chicken, which had recently migrated south. However, founder Al Copeland quickly realized he needed to make his new brand spicier—both literally and figuratively—to cater to local customers' tastes.

Copeland stopped selling traditional Southern-fried chicken in favor of spicy New Orleans-style chicken. He also re-named the chain "Popeyes" after Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle, the detective from the 1971 movie The French Connection. The first official Popeyes franchise opened in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1976, and by the mid 1980s, the chain had a location in Canada and had expanded to include 500 U.S. restaurants.


The front exterior of a Tim Hortons restaurant

Jim Charade, a Canadian snack-food salesman, had always dreamed of founding his own doughnut chain. He finally got his chance after meeting Canadian pro hockey star Tim Horton by chance in a local barbershop. The two later did business together when Charade purchased a car from Horton, who moonlighted as a vehicle salesman. Hoping he'd found a willing partner (and a celebrity name) to get his idea off the ground, Charade pitched his business scheme to Horton. The only problem? Horton was more interested in selling hamburgers.

The duo opened two hamburger restaurants in Ontario, but business wasn't great. Horton finally agreed to Charade's original plan, and in 1964 they established the first Tim Hortons in Hamilton, Ontario, on the site of an old gas station.

The business was a success, and the Tim Hortons brand slowly started to grow. But Charade would ultimately resign from the chain in 1966, and Horton would die in a car crash in 1974. Charade's replacement, a former Dairy Queen franchisee named Ron Joyce, ended up paying Horton's family $1 million for their share of the company.

15. CARL'S JR.

The front exterior of a Carl's Jr. restaurant

Before it became known for its signature charbroil burgers, Carl's Jr. was a hot dog stand in Los Angeles, founded by a truck driver named Carl Karcher in 1941. Karcher decided to go into the food business after noticed that his neighbor ran a small-scale hot dog chain. Thinking that he, too, could strike gold with sizzling sausages, Karcher and his wife, Margaret, used all their savings ($15) to make their business scheme a reality.

Karcher's hunch proved profitable: The stand was a hit, and the couple ended up opening up three more hot dog businesses in southern California. But in 1945, they launched a sit-down, full-service restaurant in Anaheim, California. Called Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue, the eatery sold hamburgers in addition to hot dogs.

Carl's was also popular, so to piggy-back on its success, Karcher create two smaller, express versions of Carl's in 1956. These were called—you guessed it—Carl's Jr.


The front exterior of a Jimmy John's restaurant

Jimmy John Liautaud wasn't a great student (he ranked second to last in his high school class of 1982), so it seemed unlikely he'd be college bound. His father wanted him to enlist in the military, but Jimmy dreamed of opening his own food business. The two made a deal: Jimmy's dad would loan him $25,000 to get operations off the ground, but he'd join the Army if he didn't make a profit within the first year.

Liautaud, an Illinois native, loved Chicago street food. He originally wanted to open a hot dog stand, but the requisite equipment was expensive. Sandwiches were cheaper to make, so the teen began selling on-the-go lunches made from home-baked bread and deli meat.

The very first Jimmy John's restaurant opened in 1983, in a remodeled garage in Charleston, Illinois. Hungry college kids at the nearby Eastern Illinois University made the shop a success, and by 1985 Liautaud had bought out his father's interest in the business. Today, Jimmy John's has nearly 3000 locations.


The front exterior of a Krispy Kreme restaurant

In 1933, Krispy Kreme founder Vernon Carver Rudolph is said to have purchased both a doughnut shop and its closely guarded doughnut recipe from a French chef from New Orleans [PDF]. (Others say he likely got it from an Ohio River barge cook named Joseph G. LeBoeuf.) Rudolph and his business partner, who lived in Kentucky, moved operations to Nashville. The former's family also opened shops in Charleston, West Virginia, and Atlanta, Georgia, where they sold doughnuts to local grocery stores. But Rudolph wanted to strike out on his own, so in 1937 he and a new group of associates moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where they used all their money ($25) to rent a storefront.

Rudolph convinced a local grocer to lend him ingredients, and on July 13, 1937, Krispy Kreme doughnuts was born. Rudolph initially delivered his doughnuts to stores, but customers clamored for them so much that he eventually cut a hole through his store's wall so he could peddle them directly to patrons on the street.

By the 1950s, Krispy Kreme had mechanized their doughnut production, making it easier for the company to produce mass quantities of pastries. After Rudolph's death in 1976, Krispy Kreme was purchased by Beatrice Foods Company, and was later acquired by a group of franchisees.


The front exterior of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant

During the Great Depression, Harland Sanders, then in his early forties, began selling food to travelers from his roadside service station in Corbin, Kentucky. He perfected a secret recipe for fried chicken that was so closely guarded that the chef didn't dare write down the recipe. (He even locked the spice mix in his car.) Eventually, the eatery became so popular that Sanders got rid of his gas pump and ran it as a regular restaurant.

By 1939, Sanders developed the perfect flavor-to-texture ratio when he used a pressure cooker—then a new device—to fry his chicken. The restaurateur's renown skyrocketed, and in 1950 the governor of Kentucky honored Sanders by giving him the title of colonel. It was around this time that Sanders started wearing his trademark white suit and Kentucky colonel tie.

In 1952, Sanders opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Utah, and six to eight other locations followed shortly after. But just four years later, in 1956, Sanders was forced to sell his original Corbin restaurant after a new interstate highway was built that completely bypassed the roadside joint.

Needing money, the Colonel traveled around the country and pushed his product on countless restaurant workers. His tireless franchising efforts helped make KFC an international success, and in the mid 1960s Sanders sold his interest in the company for $2 million.


The front exterior of a Dairy Queen restaurant

Dairy Queen founder Sherb Noble was born and raised in cow country, so it makes sense that he always wanted to work in the dairy business. After graduating from a two-year program at Iowa State, Noble ran a creamery for a short period before moving to Kankakee, Illinois. There, he wound up running three ice cream parlors named Sherb's.

In 1938, Noble's ice cream providers told him about a new innovation called "soft serve," and Noble suggested marketing the newfangled treat by running a 10-cent all-you-can-eat sale at his store. The promotion ended up being such a success that Noble was actually afraid that the dense crowd of customers would accidently break the storefront's glass.

Noble opened the first Dairy Queen in Joliet, Illinois, in 1940. It was followed by a second store in Aurora, but when World War II rolled around Noble put his growing business on the back burner to fight for his country. When Noble returned home, he continued opening more shops until it gradually grew into the ice cream destination we know and love today.


The front exterior of a Chick-fil-A restaurant

Chick-fil-A's chicken sandwich wasn't always its signature item. In 1946, southerners Samuel Truett Cathy and his brother Ben opened a small restaurant called the Dwarf Grill in Hapeville, Georgia. Poultry was added to the menu when another Georgia business, Goode Brothers Poultry company, was tasked with providing a batch of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for airline meals. The breasts didn't end up meeting airline requirements, so the owners, Jim and Hall Goode, asked Cathy to take the product off their hands. Cathy agreed, and ended up using the re-purposed meat to make a delicious sandwich that to this day is made from a closely guarded secret recipe.

Cathy shortened the term "chicken fillet" to "chick fillet," which led to him coining the name "Chick-fil-A." (The "A" was capitalized to indicate quality.) The first mall Chick-fil-A opened in Atlanta in 1967.


The front exterior of a Pizza Hut restaurant

Pizza Hut founders Dan and Frank Carney were successful entrepreneurs before they even graduated from college. In 1958, the two brothers—then students at Wichita State— borrowed $600 from their mom and launched their own pizza restaurant for students, at the urging of a local landlord who had an unrented building. The building itself looked like a hut, and the sign only had room for 9 letters, which is how the name "Pizza Hut" came to be.

The venture was successful (College kids love pizza? Who knew!), and the Carney siblings opened up their very first franchise in Topeka, Kansas, the following year. This was followed by a second location in Manhattan, Kansas, which pioneered the business’s now-famous delivery service. (Deliveries were made on a three-wheeled scooter.) The Carneys solidified Pizza Hut’s brand—including its trademark red roofs and hut shapes—by 1965, and sold their interest in the company in 1977.


The front exterior of a mall's Subway restaurant

In 1965, an aspiring doctor named Fred DeLuca opened a submarine sandwich shop to help pay for medical school. His friend, Peter Buck, loaned him $1000 and offered to become his partner. The first-ever Subway location was in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and by 1974 the two owned 16 sub shops across Connecticut. Aiming to expand their business even further, DeLuca and Buck began franchising Subway, which led to it becoming the world's largest submarine sandwich chain.


The front exterior of a Dunkin' Donuts restaurant

Dunkin' Donuts founder William Rosenberg originally owned a business that catered lunch for industrial workers. He soon noticed that coffee and doughnuts made up 40 percent of his revenue, and in 1948 he decided to open a brick-and-mortar doughnut store in Quincy, Massachusetts, called Open Kettle.

Knowing he needed a better name to boost business, Rosenberg asked his business associates to brainstorm a new one. Rosenberg's architect reportedly thought up Dunkin' Donuts, which became the company's official name in 1950.


The front exterior of a Baskin-Robbins restaurant

In 1945, Irv Robbins, the son of an ice cream shop owner, opened his own sweets business in Glendale, California, after leaving the military. His brother-in-law, another veteran named Burt Baskin, was also bitten by the ice cream bug and established his own storefront in Pasadena shortly after.

Nearly a decade later, the two decided to combine their eight stores into a single enterprise. They named the franchise Baskin-Robbins in 1953, after flipping a coin to see whose name would come first.


The front exterior of a Papa John's restaurant

After earning his business degree from Ball State University in 1983, Papa John's founder John Schnatter moved home to Jeffersonville, Indiana. There, he began managing a seedy bar, Mick's Lounge, that his father co-owned. Right away, Schnatter began making much-needed improvements to the family watering hole: He repainted and cleaned the establishment, added more pool tables and video games, and paid outstanding debts owed to creditors. Within a month, Mick's Lounge was newly profitable.

Wanting to boost business even further, Schnatter knocked down the wall of a broom closet, built a tiny kitchen, and began making pizzas. The pies did so well that Bob Ehringer—Schnatter Sr.'s business partner, who ended up purchasing Mick's Lounge in its entirety—teamed up with the younger Schnatter to acquire a storefront next door.

This new pizza business was incorporated and self-sufficient by 1986, and the following year Schnatter and Ehringer sold Mick's to focus on growing Papa John's. Thanks to a strategic plan to use pre-mixed dough, Papa John's was able to cut down on labor costs and open lots of new businesses for cheap. By the early 1990s, the company was doubling in size every year as pizza-hungry Americans clamored for their product.


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