The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 10: Sir, This is a Wendy’s

Wendy's Way!

Every icon has to start somewhere.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a short-term road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

We saw comics and art in museums, and we had food in a museum, so why not make our logical final stop in Columbus a food museum? Well, technically, in a way, kindasorta? There’s only one small exhibit room, but the subject is rather large.

After the record store we returned to Dublin, home of the Wendy’s flagship store, which was opened in 2013 and built with an extra side room to house numerous artifacts and souvenirs from the company’s 52-year history. So they’re only a few months older than we are.

Dave Thomas statue!

A statue of the late Dave Thomas, founder and frequent TV-ad star, welcomes you!

I trust I don’t need to overexplain this nationwide fast-food joint that’s opened over 7,000 stores to date. They’ve had some accomplishments here and there besides bringing us all the bacon and the Frosty, not to mention their adoption and foster care charity efforts. Sure, they’ve had some missteps, like that time they bought Tim Horton’s. Nowadays, though, most youngsters know them for the social media team that oversees the real-time interactions of Twitter’s favorite snarky redhead.

1st store sign!

Sign transplanted from the actual first Wendy’s.

I have happy memories of past pleasant experiences with their bacon-forward products. Those memories are not recent ones. The best and fastest Wendy’s in Indy was razed years ago and replaced by a frequently robbed pharmacy. Of the two Wendy’s stores nearest our house today, one has been consistently terrible for 25 years and counting, and the other was effectively closed for months during the pandemic — even after the vaccine rollout had been going for months — until new management took over a few weeks ago and figured out how to unlock the doors. They can be quite the affordable pick-me-up when they’re properly staffed and motivated and not ruining their French-fry recipe.

Anyway: Wendy’s!

Wendy concept art!

Concept art for the perky pig-tailed pitchwoman.

Wendy's old table!

The tables every Wendy’s had when we were kids, covered in old-timey ads. A pizza joint at one of our local malls did the same.

Wendy's ceiling light!

A vintage ceiling light to accentuate the throwbackstory.

uniform!

I like to imagine their Twitter team wearing these while verbally sparring with trolls.

old Wendy's menu!

A very basic menu from before our time. Remember when fast-food joints could fit all their dishes in a single panel?

Dave Thomas merch!

A selection of merchandise, celebrating an entrepreneur and philanthropist who never spent 40 billion to turn a website into his own megaphone.

Where's the Beef merch!

To this day our fellow Gen-Xers are still haunted by the voice of Clara Peller and the famous “Where’s the Beef?” ad campaign.

1996 Olympic torch!

Unique relics include the torch that Thomas himself once carried for the opening of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

glass burger!

Also, a burger made from Waterford crystal that was once auctioned off for $105,000.00.

groundbreaking shovel!

Their total store count lags a bit behind Subway, McDonald’s, and a couple other giants, but the groundbreaking continues apace.

Wendy's sign 2022!

The young lady today. Well, young to us, I mean. 52 doesn’t seem old anymore.

And that was the end of our birthday weekend getaway in Columbus…but it wasn’t the final chapter in my 2022 birthday travels. To be concluded!

Other chapters in this very special MCC miniseries:

Part 1: The Merry Marvel Museum Menagerie
Part 2: Mighty Marvel Cinemania
Part 3: How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way
Part 4: COSI All Around
Part 5: Schiller Park Intermezzo
Part 6: Lichtenstein Pre-Pop
Part 7: All Around the CMA
Part 8: The Columbus Cuisine Collection
Part 9: Arts in Columbus
Coda: Happy Birthday, Captain Janeway

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