When you explain that you’re from Kansas, most people from the rest of the country will automatically make a reference to the Wizard of Oz. While we put up with the references, America should know that Kansas City has been on the rise for a long time now, from our sports to our schools to our quality of living. After reading this article, you can add food to that list (right after you book your flight to KC).
1. Pizza Hut
Yet another classic from Wichita. Pizza Hut was invented by Dan and Frank Carney in 1958 and if you haven’t heard of this iconic brand yet, then you’ve definitely been living under a rock. Pizza Hut has been supplying us with easy delivery for every college student to take advantage of when dinner just isn’t happening.
Even though Freddy’s only got its start in 2002, the fast-casual food chain now has over 150 locations nationwide. This popular restaurant was founded in Wichita, Kansas by Scott Redler and Bill and Randy Simon. Freddy Simon, a World War II veteran and the father of Bill and Randy, is the namesake for the diner-style chain. The frozen custard is worth the extra calories.
Although Coleman isn’t a food or a restaurant, it’s a staple to food-loving campers across the nation. The Coleman brand, which produces essentials like the propane stove, the table-top charcoal griller, and the classic cooler, was started in Wichita, Kansas, in 1902 and still has its headquarters in Wichita. Your tailgate wouldn’t be the same without Coleman.
This well-known and well-loved frosty drink was invented in 1958 by Omar Knedlik, an owner of Dairy Queen in Coffeyville, Kansas. Knedlik had kept his sodas in the freezer to keep them cool, and they quickly became popular with his customers. Originally he wanted his drink to be called ‘Scoldasice’ (not super catchy, Omar), but a local artist, Ruth E. Taylor, came up with the famous ICEE name that we know and love today.
While not a food for humans, Three Dog Bakery has been producing dog treats for the masses since 1989. The owners, Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff, began creating the treats for their sick dog, Gracie, who wouldn’t eat anything from the store. Soon their dog treats took off and Dye and Beckloff left their kitchens at home to open the world’s first bakery for dogs. You can find these treats in one of their 30 locations across the states.
6. White Castle
You can thank Wichita again for the very first fast food chain in the United States. Founded by Walt Anderson and Billy Ingram in 1921, this restaurant was set out to change the stigma around ground beef that was caused by Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle. The whole restaurant emphasized cleanliness, from the white porcelain enamel exterior to the spotless worker’s uniforms. Anderson, the chef, is known as the creator of the hamburger bun as well as the assembly-line style kitchen.
7. Happy Meals
Happy Meals, otherwise known as every kid’s favorite phrase, were created by Kansas City ad man Bob Bernstein, CEO of Bernstein-Rein advertising agency. Bernstein wanted to repackage the ‘adult’ food in a kid-friendly way and it quickly took off in 1977 in local McDonald’s.
Next time you meet someone from Kansas, rethink your Wizard of Oz joke. We’ve got a lot more to be proud of.