Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'll have four burgers, a large sky and a small tee: The A&W Burger Family of Tipton, Iowa

Papa Burger

Mama Burger

Teen Burger (with a rakish rust mustache)

and Baby Burger makes four.

Home, Sweet Home

The good folks at Hunt's campground put the Burger Family out for all I-80 drivers to admire.

On our great cross-country roadtrip last month, we were happily tooling down Interstate 80 in Iowa when a doubletake-inducing sight blurred past us. Did you see that? What was that? I've never seen anything quite like that before! Quick, before it's too late, get off at the next exit and go back! And a U-turn has never been more worth it, for "it" was a complete vintage A&W Burger Family in a campground miniature golf course. In 1963, the A&W Root Beer chain of fast food restaurants introduced four large fiberglass characters to represent their different types of hamburgers: Papa Burger, Mama Burger, Teen Burger and Baby Burger. The figures looked a little like Hanna-Barbera characters of that period and ranged in size from 8.5 feet tall for Papa down to 4 feet for Baby. In 1974, a different mascot was introduced and the restaurants were instructed to cast off their Burger Families like so much flat birch beer. This put them in the hands of eccentric devotees of the public, much like the Muffler Men that dot the landscape. The Iowa clan that we stumbled across have been part of Hunt's Cedar River Campground since the early 1970s. The mini-golf course was a little down-on-its luck looking, but the family beams enthusiastically at all duffers, just the same. Who wouldn't want to play a round or two of novelty links with these fine specimens of roadside statuary ferociously smiling at your every swing? Road scholar extraordinaire Debra Jane Seltzer has a couple of pages about the Burger Family here, and the fun folks at Vintage Roadside have a great entry about what it's like to own a Burger Family here. Fore!


roadsidewonders said...

Love this camp ground for preserving a Burger Family. Good on them!

I've been jealous of VR's backyard Burger menagerie for awhile now.

Vintage Roadside said...

So glad you guys had a chance to visit the Iowa family! Every day we think about how lucky we are to be the current "parents" of our family. It impossible to look at them and not smile!

We're also still crazy enough to drive hundreds of miles out of our way to visit other Burger Families even though they look just like ours. :-)

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside

Amber Von Felts said...

That it too fun! I think they looked pleased with their new gig of seeing over the mini golf course!

Gunnar and Sherry said...

Wendy: Yes, thanks heavens for eccentric people with a little dough to spend!

Jeff & Kelly: Of course you visit the other Burger families...they're family!

Amber: Happy campers indeed!