Artifact of the Week — October 19, 2023

Posted by on October 19, 2023

Minute Man of America Restaurant

Proprietor Wes Hall opened Arkansas’ native Minute Man of America restaurant chain in Little Rock in 1948. With steady growth, the chain reached 57 company-owned and franchised restaurants by the early 1970s, expanding beyond Arkansas to seven nearby states. 

Raytheon Company took an interest in Minute Man, shipping its latest technology, a RadaRange microwave oven to its flagship Little Rock location in 1948. At the time, it was one of three experimental microwaves released by Raytheon. Imagine a restaurant nowadays advertising cooking with a microwave!

Advertisement for Minute Man Restaurant (lower left)
Advertisement for Minute Man Restaurant (lower left)

Consider how Minute Man pioneered fast food service with several gimmicks that have been taken up by restaurant chains across the United States. Burger King was so taken with the idea of a specific meal marketed to children they bought the Magic Meal name and used it for advertising in the 1980s. Minute Man also gave away free glasses with the purchase of a Coca-Cola product, which was a brand new concept. And Wendy’s adopted and paid for Minute Man’s “old-fashioned hamburgers” slogan. 

Locally, Jerry and Connie Townsley operated a Minute Man at 595 St. Louis from 1974 – 1981. Today one Minute Man restaurant remains, located in El Dorado. 

The accompanying picture is of the 1974 Newport High School Homecoming court. Sponsors fill the program, and Minute Man is boldly displayed on the bottom of one of the program’s initial pages.

Newport High School Homecoming Court (1974)
Newport High School Homecoming Court (1974)

OIRM will showcase Minute Man in its “A Taste of Community” exhibit in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution. Come by and learn about the history of foods from your area beginning January 2024 at OIRM!

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