Sunday, 9 June 2013

Cosmic Wimpy

This post is like a cosmic platter, connecting a Wimpy burger, LSD and some spacey Marvel super heroes. Mystified? Well please read on...
On the occasional school lunch break, several of us would tuck in to a 'Wimpy and Chips'. It was the Spring of 1979, and 'The Home of the Hamburger' had a promotion on, giving away with each meal a 5 cms x 7.5 cms card with Marvel Comics characters on them. There were 20 different cards in the set, and I remember getting several sets worth in one go from one of the guys who worked there - he was happy that I was interested in them, and it seemed like he just wanted to get rid of the piles of cards by the cash register. A run of the cards he handed me have since remained in the same old OXO tin all this time.
A reminder for those who recall the days when Wimpy restaurants were an almost ubiquitous fixture on every high street in the UK (and beyond). It's now almost 60 years (1954 it was) since the first Wimpy was sold in London from one corner of The Lyons Tea House in Coventry Street, W1. It had put aside a section of the restaurant to sell a new style of comfort food: American-style hamburgers. A thousand Wimpy Houses then came and went over the next few decades, when in the early '80s a new tidal wave of US fast food chains saturated our shopping streets. Some Wimpy's are still around though - I recently spottted a Wimpy House in Peterborough city centre.
Even better to trigger the memory with - I've found an example of a Wimpy House menu, which is actually dated 1969. Looking at the 'Followers' (after the Starters), it's all coming back: the Bender, the Polynesian, and the Shanty...
Perhaps the Spaghettiburger was crossed out in blue biro after the customer vowed never to have another one?

Anyway - I'll scroll on about fifteen years, and after my paternal grandmother died, I became the repository of her collections of family photographs, part-loose, some in albums,  and envelopes containing various newspaper cuttings. Amongst them was an incomplete copy of the Majorca Daily Bulletin, dated 13th August 1967. I expect that she would have visited the island then, but I can't find any other clues why she'd have wanted to hang onto the paper. But there on page 12, I discovered quite a remarkable advertisment which was almost waiting for me to cherish for all these years.

This most bonkers of adverts was used to promote the Wimpy Bars of Majorca:
Turn On with a 'Really Way Out' Wimpy
So, in the drug-drenched 60's, if you had already experimented with psychedelics, maybe you would really think twice about taking a trip IN Majorca when you could Try a Wimpy instead?  I suspect that this home-spun ad didn't travel much further than the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean.

Another newspaper amongst her collection was The People from 1952. So 15 years earlier, there's an advert for another well-known brand - Rennies tablets for indigestion.

I tuned in to the copy headline, it said Acid Stomach. Now I thought that was the equivalent of what you get when you tucked into a Wimpy in Majorca in 1967...

anti-Acid, pre-Wimpy
and ironic then that amongst those Super Heroes cards that were being handed out by Wimpy were two of Marvel's most cosmic and mystical creations - the Silver Surfer and Doctor Strange... 
Want to Really Turn On?

No comments:

Post a Comment