While McDonald’s Happy Meal is probably the most recognizable kid-friendly fast food combination, some might be surprised to learn that the idea came from another, now-defunct burger chain. The first Burger Chef opened in 1958, just eight years after the McDonald’s. Its claim to fame was originally a unique system that served customers via conveyor belt. Reportedly, these belts were able to serve up to 800 burgers per hour, far outpacing the competition. Burger Chef had 1,200 locations by 1972, second only to McDonald’s at 1,600.
In 1973, Burger Chef introduced the kid-friendly Fun Meal, providing the template for the Happy Meal, which debuted six years later. However, the 1970s saw the company overextend itself, and in 1981 the brand was sold to Hardee’s and retired for good.