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Where Your Favorite Fast-Food Chains Began

05/23/2014 12:30 pm 12:30:50 | Updated Jul 23, 2014
Yelp/ Jenny M

The fast-food industry in this country has a long and storied history. The founders of America's biggest chains built mega-empires based on the pursuit of the American dream, and in the process changed the way that the world eats. But how did these chains first get off the ground?

Given the ways that fast food influences everything from American pop culture to politics to dietary trends, it's fascinating to look back on the origins of the biggest players in the industry. One of the first fast-food chains to emerge was White Castle, founded by Bill Ingram in Wichita, Kan. in 1921; the design of the original White Castle was inspired by the Water Tower building in Chicago.

The novel and efficient system developed by the McDonald brothers at their original San Bernardino, Calif., location inspired a handful of other up-and-coming entrepreneurs to try their hand in the industry, namely Keith J. Kramer and Matthew Burns (founders of Insta-Burger King, which would later become Burger King), Carl Karcher (founder of Carl's Jr.), and Glen Bell (founder of Taco Bell). But certainly the person most famously inspired by the original McDonald's was Ray Kroc, who bought the company from the McDonald brothers in 1954 and turned it into the mega-corporation that it is today.

Restaurants come and go, but for one reason or another (usually a combination of quality product, smart marketing, and good luck) these chains have firmly cemented their place in history. But as big and powerful as they are today, they all started just like any other restaurant: small and driven by one person with a dream. Read on to learn the origins of America's most popular fast food chains.

Where Your Favorite Fast-Food Chains Began

-- Dan Myers, The Daily Meal

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