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Wienerschnitzel logo designed by Saul Bass in 1978.
|Founded||Wilmington, California, U.S. (1961)|
Number of locations
Wienerschnitzel is an American fast food chain founded in 1961 (as "Der Wienerschnitzel") that specializes in hot dogs, also known as the World's Largest Hot Dog Chain. Wienerschnitzel locations are found predominantly in California and Texas, though others are located in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Washington. Outside the 50 states, there is a store located in Guam and one in Panama.
The chain is recognizable by the A-frame style roofs of its older restaurants, similar to the original structures used by IHOP, Tastee-Freez, Nickerson Farms, and Whataburger. Structures that have been converted from Wienerschnitzels into other restaurants often retain the distinctive architecture. The chain's advertising mascot is an anthropomorphized hot dog known as The Delicious One, who runs from people who want to eat him.
The first Wienerschnitzel was founded by former Taco Bell employee John Galardi (1937-2013) in 1961. This location, still operating today, was a hot dog stand located at 900 West Pacific Coast Highway, east of Figueroa Street, in the Los Angeles community of Wilmington.
In the late 1980s, Galardi converted several stores in the Denver area and other Western cities into The Original Hamburger Stand restaurants. Wienerschnitzels now sell Tastee-Freez ice cream, a brand also owned by Galardi. Wienerschnitzels do not actually serve Wiener Schnitzel.
The expression Wienerschnitzel is German, spelled as a one-word compound as was the standard before the spelling reform of 1996 and is still the standard in Switzerland; however, the correct article to use in this case is the neuter form das, not the masculine der. This is true for both the actual food (das Schnitzel) and the restaurant itself (das Restaurant, das Lokal).
In English, "wiener" (short for "wienerwurst"), from Wiener Würstchen, is a colloquial name for a hot dog. The actual Wiener Schnitzel, however, means "Viennese breaded veal cutlet", a dish that the restaurant chain does not sell.
The origin of the chain and its name is described by its founder:
"[John] Galardi started his career in the fast-food business at age 12 as a soda jerk in Missouri. With his family he came to California at age 19 and, as fate would have it, got his first job from the original owner of Taco Bell.
'I went over and enrolled in Pasadena Junior College. I walked across the street and a guy was hosing the lot,' Galardi recalled. 'I said, 'Do you need any help?' Bell said he did and offered him a part-time job at 50 cents an hour. From this association, Galardi moved on to manage Bell's commissary at $150 a week and then into a partnership agreement with Bell to run a poor-producing taco store.
Working two shifts, with his ex-wife working three part-time jobs, Galardi managed to save $6,000. Meanwhile, Bell was having financial problems and asked Galardi to loan him the $6,000. Bell was unable to pay back the loan in three months and instead offered to sell Galardi the store for $12,000 cash.
'So my folks borrowed $2,000 from Household Finance on their furniture, I let everybody go and I worked 30 days to get the other thousands and I paid $12,000 for a little taco store in Long Beach. That's how I got into the ownership position,' he said.
The next breakthrough came a couple years later when Galardi was approached by a man who wanted to build the hard-working Galardi a store on Pacific Coast Highway in Wilmington. It was next to one of Bell's taco stores.Bell told Galardi to take the deal and sell something other than tacos. 'So I came up with hot dogs,' Galardi said. 'Nobody else was in hot dogs and Glen's wife named the company. 'I was at dinner one night at their house and Bell's wife was looking at a cookbook and said you ought to call it wienerschnitzel.' I told my wife going home nobody in their right mind would call a company wienerschnitzel. Three days later, I said, 'Hell, it's better than John's Hot Dogs.'" (Orange County Business Journal. "Wienerschnitzel's John Galardi - No Ordinary Hot Dog". March 30, 1987)
The chain changed its name to "Wienerschnitzel" (sans article) in 1977, though many franchises retained the older name on their restaurants and some older customers still refer to the chain as "Der Wienerschnitzel". The restaurant paid homage to its original name in its 2009 marketing slogan, "DERlicious".
John Galardi died of pancreatic cancer on April 13, 2013.
Logo, slogans, and advertising
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Soon after the name change, the current Wienerschnitzel "W" logo was created by noted graphic designer Saul Bass in 1978.
The Delicious One (sometimes referred to as TDO), Wienerschnitzel's mascot, has been featured in some of their advertising since 1999. The slogan, "The World's Most Wanted Wiener" is used in all of The Delicious One's commercials. Wienerschnitzel has not produced many The Delicious One commercials lately. The new commercials are more focused on describing their food products and are produced in live action.
Wienerschnitzel also uses the slogan "DERlicious" in their advertising, relating back to before the company dropped the "Der" from its name in 1977. Some other newer commercials use the slogan, "Hot Dogs are DER again!" along with the DERlicious logo.
In celebration of Wienerschnitzel's 50th anniversary, a new slogan was released in 2011 to continue the "Der" theme: "Der fun since '61!".
The history of Wienerschnitzel's slogans, with the years they were used, are:
- "Der fun since '61!" (2011–present, in celebration of 50th anniversary of business)
- "DERlicious", "Hot Dogs are DER again" (2009)
- "Pushing the Boundaries of Taste." (2006-2008)
- "Chili Dog Diet." (2005-2006) Chili Yum, Chili Chili, Yum, Yum!
- "The World's Most Wanted Wiener" (1999-2005 as main slogan, now used only in The Delicious One commercials)
- "Everyone loves a wiener!" (1996-1999)
- "Wiener dude attitude!" (1991-1996)
- "We're not just a hot dog anymore!" (1984-1991)
- "Hamburgers and hot dogs, it's all together now!" (1977-1979)
- "Just thinkin' about those hot dogs makes me hungry!" (1976-1977)
- "The Hot Dog Place with the Bright Red Roof" (early 1970s)
- "Der fixin's are derlightful / there's fun in every bite-ful" (late 1960s)
- USA Today, Apr. 15, 2013
- Duden. Schweizer Hochdeutsch. Bibliographisches Institut. Mannheim: 2012. Page 85.
- "Schnitzel" Duden online. http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Schnitzel
- "wiener". Webster's online dictionary. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wiener
- "Wiener Schnitzel – Austria’s National Food". All Things Austria. 13 December 2010. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
- "Wiener Schnitzel". Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. 21 December 2012. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
- "Founder of Wienerschnitzel Chain John Galardi Dies". miamiherald.com. Retrieved April 15, 2013.