If someone said to you "Say kids, what time is it?" your first response might be "It's Howdy Doody Time!" Even if you don't remember The Howdy Doody Show, the kid's television show that ran on NBC from 1947 through 1960, you've seen its impact in other kids' shows. Howdy Doody pioneered children's television, live audience participation and television broadcasts in color. What you may not know is that a Howdy Doody hamburger-inspired chain was also a thing back in the day.
The Howdy Beef 'n Burger chain was founded by William Rosenberg in the early 60s. 10 years before he opened the first Howdy Beef 'n Burger restaurant, Rosenberg founded another New England favorite: Dunkin' Donuts.
View this post on Instagram
I come from a long line of shop owners and entrepreneurs. Here is my grandparents’ shop Howdy Beefburgers in the Boston area in the late 1950s to early 60s. My dad worked there and said burgers were 25 cents. It sadly went out of business when a McDonalds opened across the street. #smallbusiness #howdybeefburgers #entrepreneurlife
If you're a fast food aficionado, you're familiar with co-branded fast food locations. For example, a burger joint and an ice cream shop sharing space inside a building, if not sharing the same ordering counter. In fact, you've probably seen Dunkin' Donuts sharing space with Baskin-Robbins. The coffee chain first offered co-branded restaurants with the Howdy Beef 'n Burger stores; each store had separate storefronts, but they shared the same parking lots. The idea was that customers could stop in for coffee and a doughnut in the morning, then come back for a Howdy Doody hamburger at lunch or treat the kids to a dinner out.
There were at least 27 locations across New England; in addition to the Howdy Beefburgers, the chain served cheeseburgers and french fries, but given the chain's location across Massachusetts, they also served fish sandwiches and clam chowder.
The jingle for the burger chain went like this:
"Howdy Beefburger Drive-ins Serve up tasty treats.
Beefburgers made with just the finest meats.
Howdy Beefburger Drive-Ins, drive right up and get
Speedy speedy speedy service and the best beefburgers yet."
By the end of the 1970s, all the Howdy Beef 'n Burger locations had closed or been bought by other franchises like McDonald's or Wendy's, though if you ask the right people, you'll find those that remember this early burger chain inspired by a cowboy puppet on a kid's television show.