Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Still laughing? Seventh fast food giant found dead

Make that: Five months, seven deaths.

For close to half a year now, we've been keeping track of a very disturbing trend of deaths among giants in the fast food industry: for each page on the calendar, there is one less fast food innovator walking among us. Our report on the initial trio of fast food industry deaths in the first three months of 2008 was met with incredulity, even derision. Then, another and another and yet another pioneer was taken from us.

That would be six deaths in the first five calendar months of 2008:

Carl Carcher, founder of Carl’s Jr. (January 11);
Lovie Yancie, founder of Fatburger (January 23);
Al Copeland, founder of Popeye's Famous Fried Chicken (March 23);
Herb Peterson, inventor of the Egg McMuffin (March 25);
Irvine "Irv" Robbins, co-founder of Baskin-Robbins (May 5);
J.R. Simplot, king of the frozen french fries (May 25)...

But with the report today that another fast food king joined his colleagues at the great drive-thru in the sky on May 31st, the death toll and percentages increase.

Neil Baker was part of the first wave of fast-food pioneers linked by friendship and geography in and around San Bernardino, California. He helped his best friend build a hamburger stand in 1948 that would evolve into the Taco Bell chain. Their employees would start the Naugles and Der Wienerschnitzel chains. Baker started his own burger stand in 1952. It grew into Baker's Drive-Thru, a regional chain that made him a multimillionaire. The family still owns the 36-restaurant business today.

Baker died at his home.

He was 84.

A cause of death was not released.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kind of weird they're all dropping at once. Remember Pup 'n Taco... mmmmmm...