What is it about chain restaurants that make such a big impression on us when we're young?
Maybe it's the themed decor, the merch or names like Chi-Chi's, Sambo's or Bob's Big Boy that stick out in our minds, but one thing's for sure- it's typically not the food we remember so fondly.
However, if you ate at a Chi-Chi's Restaurant around 2003 when they closed for good you may actually remember the food- because a Hepatitis outbreak in the food suply resulted in three deaths and the death of a hilariously named restaurant chain.
Saying the name Chi-Chi's was fun, but saying the name Sambo's made anyone familiar with the racist slang term feel dirty.
Sambo's original mascot was a dark skinned South Indian boy, based on the racist "pickaninny" character Little Black Sambo, and the mascot didn't sit well with people after the Civil Rights Movement so the chain had a hard time expanding.
The controversy started to kill off Sambo's, but lawsuits, bankruptcy and health code violations finally finished the chain off in the early 80s, leaving only the original Santa Barbara location.
Bob's Big Boy restaurants got their start in California too, and after a while that big smilin' boy holding up the massive burger was synonymous with Route 66 and the American road trip.
I looked forward to taking a picture with my giant fiberglass friend and taking home a Big Boy toy when I was a kid, but Big Boy didn't bring in the dough so most of their locations outside of California closed in the 90s.
We hope you like this article!
Please help us grow by sharing: