Today in Texas History -- On today's date 68 years ago, Tuesday, August 8, 1950, noted Texan fast-food restaurateur Harmon Archibald Dobson (1913-1967) opened his first restaurant in Corpus Christi, Texas, selling huge hamburgers from his small wooden shop for 25 cents each.
According to the Texas State Historical Associations "Handbook of Texas Online," Dobson?s goal was simple: Make a better burger that took two hands to hold & tasted so good that when you took a bite you would say "What a burger!"
A Whataburger would not be the then-standard hamburger consisting of two ounces of beef on a 2 inch bun. It was a quarter pound of beef on a 5-inch bun. The burger would be cooked exactly the way the customer wanted it. It would not hit the grill until the customer placed the order. Dobson contacted G. M. Atkinson, the manager of the local Rainbo bakery, to order his giant hamburger buns. The five-inch bun was a new concept & the Rainbo bakery did not have pans big enough for the buns. After searching the country for pans, Dobson & Atkinson went in together & found a company that would hand-make a set of 15 pans with eight molds. Whataburger was such a success that within a few weeks, they realized that they would have to pay for the pan mold & order more pans. The first Whataburger was sold for 25 cents on August 8, 1950. The price of the burger was twenty-five cents. Whataburger № 1 took in fifty dollars on its first day. Four days later they took in $141.80 & sold 551 burgers. The word was out. Whataburger was a success.
Dobson was granted the "Whataburger" trademark by the Texas Secretary of State on June 23, 1950. The first neon sign would flash in four stages: What? A? Burger? Whataburger. Within 10 years, Whataburger had 17 locations in Texas, Tennessee & Florida. In 1961, Whataburger adopted its familiar orange-&-white A-framed drive-ins. Whataburger's first A-frame restaurant was built in Odessa, Texas, & is now a historical landmark. Still owned by the Dobson family, Whataburger now has over 700 restaurants from Arizona to Florida.
Since its origin 68 years ago, Whataburger has become known far & wide as the undisputed unofficial "National Hamburger of Texas."
The undated left-hand photograph depicts Harmon Dobson, the founder of Whataburger. The right-hand photograph depicts Whataburger № 1 at some time after the price of a Whataburger had gone up from 25 cents to 35 cents.
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