Before McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC reigned supreme, Wimpy has dominated the UK fast food scene.
Wimpy was the pioneer of common burgers, giving diners across the country including many residents of Bedfordshire, their first taste of American cuisine.
The memories that were created in these restaurants have survived with many people who grew up during this time, despite Wimpy’s declining popularity following the arrival of the biggest brands two decades later.
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Hailing from Bloomington, USA in 1932, it took another 22 years for the Wimpy logo to cross the Atlantic with the very first British burger-based meal served at its flagship location at Lyons Corner House in London in the 1950s.
By 1970, the Wimpy brand was a global powerhouse with more than 1,000 points of sale in 23 countries around the world.
Having said that, it was in the UK that it really left its mark on consumers.
Like Live Chronicles, feast your eyes on a newly unearthed menu from the 1970s, when the chain was in its prime, reminiscent of Wimpy’s offerings at the time and the prices that go with them.
As can be seen above, the Wimpy Grill, Shanty Brunch, and Delta Grill were all available for 36p, while a Wimpy Special Grill would have cost you 42p.
At the top of the range was the delicious Wimpy International plate which included a steak and all the trimmings and cost just 54p.
If you were looking for one of the classic burgers, choices ranged from Wimpy Burger, priced at 16 pence, Wimpy Cheeseburger at 21 pence, and Wimpy Kingsize, priced at 31 pence.
One menu item that will be particularly remembered was the Wimpy Bender – a wonderfully spicy sausage wrapped around half a tomato – which could be purchased for 16 1/2 p (that’s right, we go back to the days of the half pennies).
It may be somewhat surprising to find that a Wimpy Salad costs almost double the amount of Wimpy Cheeseburger and Eggburger.
There were also some great options for those of us with a sweet tooth; a Brown Derby (a donut with ice cream and fudge flakes) was priced at 17p and the glorious Knickerbocker Glory could have been yours for 25p.
Meanwhile, a Whippsy – the brand’s own milkshake that was infamously thick – cost 17 pence.
Add 8p for a bottle of coke, and you could easily be fully fed for less than half a pound.
Of course, while those prices seem ridiculously low, it should be taken into account that at the start of the decade the average weekly wage was around £ 32 while a loaf of bread cost only 9p.
Wimpy was also the perfect place to throw a birthday party. It had nearly 400 branches in the UK before the emergence of future giants McDonald’s and Burger King in the mid-1970s, which created competition that Wimpy simply couldn’t compete with.
Mainly, McDonald’s sold its food over the counter; Wimpy, who employed the traditional table service, was forced to change tactics before finally conceding defeat to the new neighborhood children.
While across the country, many outlets were forced to close (a proportion of them becoming Burger Kings due to being under the same management at the time), 64 locations remain in operation. England.
However, none of these can be found in Bedfordshire with some of the nearest outlets for those wishing to dine at Wimpy’s in Borehamwood, Rickmansworth, Cheshunt, Peterborough, Eastcote and High Wycombe.
Nostalgia plays a big role in the relevance of the Wimpy brand; in fact, a recent investment program saw many franchised restaurants switch to the company’s new “shift” design, which builds on the brand’s strong heritage and nostalgic traditions, while also offering new colors, bright furnishings and uniforms.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Wimpy is stuck in the past – more than half of its restaurants now offer home delivery services through apps like Just Eat.
Do you have any memories of Wimpy restaurants? Let us know in the comments.
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