It was a warm summer’s day in July 1964, when Arby’s sizzled up its first roast beef sandwich. Since its inception in Youngstown, Ohio, Arby’s has spread across the country and expanded its menu to include more than eight different types of meat.
The fast-food joint sets itself apart from other establishments with its focus on hearty meat sandwiches rather than burgers, but that’s not all that makes the iconic American eatery unique. Apart from the venison sandwich release in 2016, here are 10 fun facts we bet you didn’t know about Arby’s:
1. Arby’s wasn’t named after a guy named Arby.
Contrary to what you may have assumed, the restaurant was not named after someone named Arby, but its two founders: brother’s Leroy and Forrest Raffel. The brothers originally wanted to name the eatery “Big Tex”, but since the name was already claimed, they settled on “RB”, an abbreviation for Raffel brothers.
2. The original Arby’s was kind of fancy.
Arby’s opened with a limited of menu of roast beef sandwiches, potato chips, Jamocha shakes, and soft drinks.
The eatery sold its sandwiches for 69 cents, which was more than four times the amount of the 15-cent hamburgers sold at McDonald’s at the time. The brother’s reportedly hoped the pricier menu would appeal to a classier bunch.
3. Before there were curly fries, there were potato cakes.
Up until 1970, Arby’s served potato cakes, not French fries, as its main side dish. The brand didn’t introduce curly fries until 1988.
To this day, Arby’s continues to offer its original potato cakes in addition to fries and other sides.
4. Arby’s exists in 48 states and five countries.
Vermont and Rhode Island are the only states that don’t have Arby’s, so be sure to get your meat fix in before traveling through these areas.
The good news is you can find Arby’s abroad in four other countries: Canada, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.
5. Arby’s was a pioneer in the fast-food restaurant smoking ban.
Arby’s was the first fast-food chain to prohibit smoking, banning smoking in all 257 of its restaurants in 1994. Inspired, other chains quickly followed suit.
6. Arby’s also pioneered the move towards healthier ingredients.
In 1991, Arby’s introduced a “lite” menu with salads under 300 calories. It was the first major fast-food establishment to launch a “healthier” menu campaign.
In 2006, Arby’s limited trans-fats in their cooking and stopped using additives in chicken.
7. Arby’s once served a 38-inch-long curly fry.
In 2013, Kim Medford was dining at an Arby’s in Waynesville, NC, when she discovered a curly fry that was over three feet long.
As of now, Arby’s still holds the record for the world’s longest curly fry.
8. Arby’s ran a 13-hour commercial.
To prove the brisket in their Smokehouse Brisket sandwich was smoked for 13 hours, Arby’s filmed the entire process and aired it on My9 KBJR-TV in Duluth, Minnesota from May 24 – 25, 2014.
The lengthy ad still holds the record for the world’s longest commercial.
9. Hall-of-Famer Hank Aaron was once a proud Arby’s owner.
The baseball star purchased several Arby’s locations around Milwaukee area, where his baseball career was largely based.
Big on customer service, Hank Aaron reportedly told his staffers, ‘The most important thing that I want all of us to understand is that we are serving the public. Whether customers buy one Coke or 15 sandwiches, they’re all going to be treated the same way—with a smile and a ‘thank you.'”
10. Arby’s “Meat Mountain” may or may not exist.
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Though you won’t see it listed on the menu, legend has it that you can still try the legendary “Meat Mountain” if you’ve got $10 to spare and order the sandwich by name.
The monstrous sandwich is loaded with all of Arby’s meats, including roast beef, Angus steak, bacon, corned beef, ham, chicken tenders, and roast turkey.