A History Lesson

Mattoon, IL is a small little town with only a total population 18 thousand people. Unless you go to Eastern Illinois University, located in the neighboring town of Charleston, IL, or are from the area you've probably never heard of this little town. From the outsider looking in you would just think of Mattoon as a small southern Illinois town with not much to offer, but located in the heart of Mattoon is the location of one of the biggest trademark disputes in legal history: The Original Burger King

In 1952 Gene and Betty Hoots purchased Mattoon's Frigid Queen ice cream shop and added burgers and hot dogs to the menu. Gene wanted to change the name of this local favorite to 'The Hot Dames' but Gene's genius of a wife pointed out that "every queen needs her king" so thus 'Burger King' was born. 

beer, coffee
MacKenzie Taylor

In 1959 after the official name change Gene took the advice of his uncle (who had previously owned Frigid Queen) who told him he needed to register Burger King as an official Illinois state trademark. At the time, Gene didn't think much of it, but if he hadn't taken his uncle's advice this wonderful establishment might not still be going strong 65 years later. 

The Burger King chain that we know today first opened in Miami in 1954. But when it started expanding to Illinois in the ’60s, the Hoot's filed a state lawsuit, claiming that it had the rights to be the original and only Burger King in the state. The chain responded with a federal suit which became Burger King of Florida, Inc. Vs. Hoots in 1968.

In an important moment in legal history that served as a key interpretation of the Lanham Act, the United States’ primary federal trademark statute, the court ruled that the Burger King chain could operate anywhere in Illinois outside of a 20-mile radius of Mattoon. To date, the close Burger King is located in Tuscola, IL exactly 23 miles away from Mattoon. 

The Ascetic 

The plain brick building with windows all across it is nothing special from the outside minus the music that can be heard from the speakers in the parking lot and the drive-though. But, once you step into building it is like you're sent back in time. With two different counters, once just for ice cream (which they refer to it still as Frigid Queen) and one for everything else.

You're suddenly hit with the smell of fresh fries coming out of the fryer and the sound of the cashiers yelling out orders to the kitchen and numbers being yelled that are ready for pick up. All orders are still hand written and then punched into the machine for your total.

MacKenzie Taylor

Everyone who works there are so nice it is amazing. They want to make sure you have an amazing experience and that your order is correct. You even get a little tag with your number on it, which is something they have continued to do over the years. 

beer, tea, coffee
MacKenzie Taylor

Unlike the chain restaurant that relies on mass shipping of their frozen foods, the original Burger King makes sure they serve the freshest product possible. Partnering with local farms from the area they bring in fresh meat and produce which makes the food they serve less greasy and gives you that taste of a real burger should taste like.

Another added detail that they do from their early days is they leave two bottles of flavored syrup, cherry and vanilla, right next to the soda machine so you can mix up your favorite flavor of Coke right there. Even though they've upgraded their Coke machine over the years, you can still get that amazing flavor you could have only gotten at a soda shop.

Fan Favorites

tea, beer, coffee
MacKenzie Taylor

Much like the chain Burger King's Whooper, the original Burger King has their own version respectfully named the Hooter, it even comes on a sesame bun. Their burgers are not the only thing that are delicious. Their tender loins and hot dogs are also very popular along with their onion rings and fries are to die for. Plus, you can't beat their prices, my family of three spent under $15 for our entire meal. 

MacKenzie Taylor
french fries, chicken, onion, onion rings
MacKenzie Taylor
tea, pizza, coffee, beer
MacKenzie Taylor

Gene and Betty wanted to stay true to their roots and wanted to make sure Frigid Queen stayed alive so that's why their is a separate window where you can order their specialty soft serve. Along with a unique flavor of the day, they also serve lemon ice cream which is one of their best sellers and personally a favorite of mine. I would describe it as a creamy understated lemon that makes you want to melt right into it, no pun intended. All their ice cream cones come with eyes on them which separates them from the competition. 

chocolate, ice, cream
MacKenzie Taylor

This OG Burger King will always have a special place in my heart. From the old time feeling you get walking in to the fresh burgers and fries, you just can't beat this amazing place. Now that I've gone here I'm never going back to the chain version.