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Company typeSubsidiary of The Galardi Group
GenreFast food
FoundedLos Angeles, California, U.S. (1961; 63 years ago (1961))
FounderJohn Galardi
Number of locations
Area served
United States
Key people
Cindy Culpepper (CEO, The Galardi Group)
RevenueIncrease US$341 million (2019)[1]
Number of employees
5,000 (2019)[1]
ParentThe Galardi Group

Wienerschnitzel is an American fast food chain that specializes in hot dogs. The company was founded in 1961 by former Taco Bell employee John Galardi as Der Wienerschnitzel. Despite the name, the company does not ordinarily sell Wiener schnitzel, doing so once as a promotion.[2] Wienerschnitzel locations are found predominantly in California and Texas; others are found in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Washington, as well as the US territory of Guam.[3] Outside the United States of America, there are stores located in Panama and Chile.[4]

The chain is most notable for the A-frame roofs of its older restaurants, similar to the original structures used by IHOP, Tastee-Freez, Nickerson Farms, and Whataburger. The chain's advertising mascot is an anthropomorphized hot dog known as The Delicious One.[5][6]

Wienerschnitzel sponsors the Wiener Nationals, the de facto national dachshund racing championship series in the United States.[7]


The word Wienerschnitzel is German, which was spelled as one word before the spelling reform of 1996.[8] The restaurant's name is a portmanteau of Wiener and Schnitzel, meaning "Viennese" and "cutlet" respectively.

In English, wiener is a colloquial name for a hot dog, which is sometimes called Wiener Würstchen ("little Viennese sausage") in German.[9] The specific phrase Wiener Schnitzel denotes a "Viennese breaded veal cutlet",[10][11] something the restaurant chain has served briefly as a limited menu item in 2017.[2]

The chain dropped "Der" from its name to Wienerschnitzel in 1977, though many franchises have retained the older name on their restaurants. The restaurant paid homage to its original name in its 2009 marketing slogan, using the word "DERlicious".[citation needed]


The first Wienerschnitzel was founded by former Taco Bell employee John Galardi. When Galardi came to California at the age of 19, his first job was from Glen Bell, who would go on to later establish Taco Bell in 1962. Bell initially hired him on a part-time basis for 50 cents an hour at a taco store called Taco-Tia. Eventually, Galardi entered into a partnership agreement to run the store. He offered to sell the store to Galardi for $12,000, later amassing enough money to pay.

A couple of years later, a man wanted to recruit Galardi to start his own restaurant at a location on Pacific Coast Highway in Wilmington, next to one of Bell's taco stores. Bell encouraged him to take the offer, but wanted to have Galaradi sell another kind of food; Galardi decided to sell hot dogs. According to Galardi, his wife came up with the name when looking through a cookbook. He was initially skeptical of the name, saying, "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.'"[12] The first location was opened in 1961 as a hot-dog stand at 900 West Pacific Coast Highway, east of Figueroa Street, in the Los Angeles community of Wilmington.[13]

In the late 1980s, Galardi converted several stores in Denver, Colorado, and other Western cities into Hamburger Stand restaurants. Wienerschnitzels now sell Tastee-Freez ice cream, another brand owned by Galardi.[13]

Galardi died of pancreatic cancer on April 13, 2013.[13] His ex-wife, Cynthia Galardi-Culpepper, who previously was a silent partner, assumed the role as CEO and chairwoman after his death.[14] She was the corporation's first and only woman in a managerial position, later appearing in reality television series Undercover Boss in 2016.[15]

In 2015, the company signed a franchise agreement with International Food Concepts Inc. to plan and open Wienerschnitzel locations in Panama.[4]

Wienerschnitzel located in Sunnyvale, California, closed in July 2008
Wienerschnitzel located in Milpitas, California, closed in July 2014
Wienerschnitzel located in Vancouver, Washington, closed in June 2015

Logo, slogans, and advertising[edit]

Soon after the rebrand, the current Wienerschnitzel logo was created by graphic designer Saul Bass in 1978.[16]

The former mascot of Wienerschnitzel was Wienerdog; he had kids' audiobook and sing-along tapes from the late 80s to the mid 90s along with Heather Hotspots, Roger the Rhino and Rosa Iguana.

The Delicious One (TDO), Wienerschnitzel's mascot, has been put in advertisements since 1999. The slogan, "The World's Most Wanted Wiener", is used in all of TDO's commercials. Newer commercials have focused on describing their food products and are produced in live-action.

Wienerschnitzel uses the slogan "DERlicious" in advertising, alluding to the time before the company dropped the "Der" from its name in 1977. Some newer commercials use the slogan "Hot Dogs are DER again!", along with the DERlicious logo.

A campaign in the early 2010s saw the old Der Wienerschnitzel logo used on wrappers, fry boxes, etc.

Celebrating Wienerschnitzel, the restaurant created a new slogan that was released in 2011 to continue the "Der" theme: "Der fun since '61!".

The Galardi Group[edit]

The Galardi Group
Company typePrivate
Founded1970; 54 years ago (1970)
FounderJohn Galardi
Number of locations
379 (January 2022)
Key people
JR Galardi (CEO)
RevenueIncrease US$501 million (2021)
OwnerGalardi family
Number of employees
8,000 (2019)
WebsiteThe Galardi Group

The Galardi Group, the parent company of Wienerschnitzel, Tastee-Freez, and Original Hamburger Stand, was formed by John Galardi in 1970.

In 1979, Wienerschnitzel attempted to expand its menus by adding hamburgers. With little success in the 1980s, the company established two chains in 1983, The Original Hamburger Stand and Weldon's Gourmet Hamburgers,[17] which was cast off in the 1990s.[18] Some Wienerschnitzel locations were replaced with The Original Hamburger Stands.

By 2003, The Galardi Group became a franchisee of Tastee-Freez and made its products available in Wienerschnitzel and Original Hamburger Stand.[19] Due to increased sales, The Galardi Group later bought Tastee-Freez.[19][20]

In popular culture[edit]

The Descendents' song "Weinerschnitzel" from their 1981 release Fat EP takes the form of a satirical skit in which the band's frontman Milo Aukerman orders a meal from the restaurant.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Wienerschnitzel Overview". August 26, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Thorn, Bret (April 13, 2017). "Wienerschnitzel finally lives up to its name". Nation's Restaurant News. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  3. ^ "El Wienerschnitzel?". Los Angeles Times. Newport Beach. Associated Press. September 17, 1997. Archived from the original on October 3, 2023. Retrieved October 3, 2023.
  4. ^ a b "Wienerschnitzel Expands to Panama". QSR Magazine. June 25, 2015.
  5. ^ Buck, Fielding (June 25, 2021). "Five things to know about Wienerschnitzel as it hits its 60th anniversary". The Mercury News.
  6. ^ Taylor, Heather (August 16, 2018). "The Delicious One's Comeback: How Amusement Park Made the Wienerschnitzel Icon's Return Worth Relishing". Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  7. ^ "Wienerschnitzel race crowns fastest wiener dog in the West". ABC News. July 16, 2023. Retrieved August 31, 2023.
  8. ^ Duden. Schweizer Hochdeutsch. Bibliographisches Institut. Mannheim: 2012. Page 85.
  9. ^ "Definition of Wiener". Merriam Webster. August 12, 2023. Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  10. ^ Kasberger, Andre (December 13, 2010). "Wiener Schnitzel – Austria's National Food". All Things Austria. Archived from the original on July 10, 2017. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  11. ^ Shaw, Hank (December 21, 2012). "Wiener Schnitzel". Hunter Angler Gardener Cook (blog). Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  12. ^ (Orange County Business Journal. "Wienerschnitzel's John Galardi - No Ordinary Hot Dog". March 30, 1987)
  13. ^ a b c "Founder of Wienerschnitzel chain John Galardi dies". USA Today. Irving, California. Associated Press. April 15, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2023.
  14. ^ "Entrepreneurs: In Conversation with Cindy Galardi Culpepper". BNP Paribas Wealth Management. November 4, 2019.
  15. ^ "First Look: Cynthia Galardi-Culpepper Goes Undercover At Wienerschnitzel In Ep. 11". CBS Shows. ViacomCBS. 2016.
  16. ^ Bigman, Alex (2012). "Saul Bass: The man who changed graphic design". Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  17. ^ O'Dell, John (May 7, 1986). "Galardi Inc.'s New Name Cuts Link to the Past". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 25, 2021.
  18. ^ "Galardi Group". International Directory of Company Histories. Vol. 72. St. James Press. 2005.
  19. ^ a b "Galardi Group". International Directory of Company Histories. Vol. 72. St. James Press. 2005.
  20. ^ Spector, Amy (June 16, 2003). "Wienerschnitzel parent Galardi Group Gobbles up Tastee-Freez". Nation's Restaurant News. Gale Group. Archived from the original on February 28, 2006.
  21. ^ Descendents – Weinerschnitzel, retrieved May 4, 2022

External links[edit]