Every successful restaurant or fast food establishment has a popular mascot. McDonald's introduced Ronald McDonald in 1963, the Colonel has been promoting KFC chicken since its inception, and Chick-fil-A's cow is always reminding you to eat more chikin. While they were created to push a brand image, these characters became a part of America's history. And I believe the Bob's Big Boy Statue is one of these iconic characters.
All About Bob's Big Boy Restaurant
Founded in Southern California by Bob Wian in 1936, Bob's Big Boy Restaurant started off as a 10-stool hamburger stand called Bob's Pantry after selling his 1933 DeSoto Roadster as a downpayment on the Glendale location. About 6 months after opening, Bob Wian added the famous double-decker burger to the menu and with it changed the name of his restaurant to Bob's Big Boy.
It's All in a Name
But it wasn't an accident that the burger got called "The Big Boy." Richard Woodruff, who was 6-years-old at the time, walked into the hamburger stand when Bob Wian was testing out names for his new double-decker hamburger. Wian greeted Richard with, "Hello, Big Boy" and the name stuck. Soon after, Warner Bros. animator Ben Washam drew up a caricature of Richard for the exchange of a free burger.
The first drawings of Big Boy were used by Wian and several early franchises (including Shoney's, Elias Brothers and Frejlach's). Then in 1955, Bob Wian hired another artist to create a new and updated look for Big Boy, retro red suspenders and all. Coined, "The West Coast Big Boy," the new mascot was created into large fiberglass statues and inspired comic books for kids.
Now That's a Big Boy Statue
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Some of the earliest Big Boy Statues were huge- rising over 16 feet tall, but since 2002, some statues have been altered due to city ordinances. One city in California stated the statue didn't meet the city's requirement of being Western, so big cowboy boots and a hat were added to match the theme of the city.
However, because of restaurant merging or closing, many Big Boy statues have been put for sale on eBay and other collectible outlets online. At one point there were over 1,000 Big Boy restaurants and franchises in the United States. Today 76 Big Boy franchise restaurants remain, with a majority of them in Ohio and Michigan. Only 4 original Bob's Big Boys are still standing tall in Southern California. Two restaurants, the Burbank location on Riverside Drive and the Downey location, have been declared a protected historic landmark. The Riverside location has been in business since 1949, making it the oldest remaining Bob's Big Boy in the United States.
Today enthusiasts have the chance to buy Bob's Big Boy statue merchandise online from a variety of different dealers. On Amazon, you can pick up a container of their famous Seasoning Salt and on eBay, you can find anything from a Big Boy Bank to a 9-foot Big Boy Statue.