The Fast Food Mascot That Got His Own Comic Series

Big Boy mascot
Big Boy mascot - Jganser/Getty Images

When it comes to fast food advertising, nothing beats a memorable mascot. From Ronald McDonald to Colonel Sanders, many of the most well-known chains and small mom-and-pop shops alike leave it to a perpetually smiling face to sell their food. Some mascots have become more recognizable than the restaurant itself. Take Bob's Big Boy restaurant for example — you may not know what the fast food chain's classic double cheeseburger, the Big Boy burger, tastes like off the top of your head, but you can most likely recognize the burger when it's being held up by the chain's adorable blushing mascot, Big Boy himself.

The Big Boy mascot was actually based on a real life young fan who would help owner Bob Wian with chores around the restaurant. According to the fast food chain's website, little Richard Woodruff was a "chubby six year old boy in droopy overalls," who inspired the burger's name "Big Boy," along with the famous cartoon associated with it. The iconic mascot with rosy cheeks, quaffs of brown hair, and red checkered overalls was drawn on a napkin one day in 1937 by Warner Brothers animator and Bob's Big Boy patron Ben Washam. With that doodle, the Big Boy mascot was born. The sweet, smiling little server became so beloved that he even had his own comic book called "The Adventures of Big Boy." Comic book creator Manfred Bernhard once defined the comic as a "non-violent mix of stories, games, puzzles, pen pals, and letters," per CBLDF.

Read more: The Ultimate Ranking Of American Fast Food Restaurants

In Another World, Big Boy Could Have Been An Avenger

Big Boy mascot wearing cowboy hat
Big Boy mascot wearing cowboy hat - Antony Rodriguez/Shutterstock

Early issues of "The Adventures of Big Boy" comics looked very similar to what we recognize today as kids menus (which originated in the prohibition era), featuring stories and drawings of the Bob's Big Boy mascot in silly, lighthearted scenarios, along with multiple games for kids to enjoy while eating at the establishment. These comics were first drawn and issued by Stan Lee and Bill Everett in 1956, both of whom later rose to fame for creating Marvel comics and many of the superheroes we see on the big screen today. But before there was Captain America and Iron Man, there was Big Boy and his delicious burgers.

Surprisingly, the fast food mascot was much more well received than other bad-guy busting superhero comics at the time. From the 1950s to the late 1990s, comic books were often criticized for their portrayals of violence, language, and danger that lead to censoring of many of comic book's themes and art. The Adventures of Big Boy, however, was seen as wholesome and family-friendly and quickly became one of the best selling comics during that time period. This, of course, helped draw business towards the over 100 locations that Bob's Big Boy had franchised by 1964. Big Boy's comics had a total of 563 issues published until its final story was printed in 1996. While his comic is no longer in print, and franchise locations have dwindled since the height of the chain's popularity, Big Boy remains a well-recognized mascot.

There Have Been Talks Of Retiring The Big Boy Mascot

Big Boy mascot outside food trucks
Big Boy mascot outside food trucks - George Rose/Getty Images

The iconic food mascot, Big Boy, has grown far beyond the restaurant he represents. In addition to the extremely successful comic book series, Big Boy has also made an appearance in a major motion picture. Austin Powers fans might recall seeing the cheery burger mascot transformed into a spaceship and shot into space in "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery." But in 2020, Big Boy stepped out of the spotlight and allowed Dolly to take center stage.

Dolly, an animated young girl who made regular appearances in the Big Boy comic books, got a promotion as the fast food chain's newest mascot, along with a brand new chicken sandwich for her to hold up high in the classic Big Boy burger position. Director of Big Boy training, Frank Alessandrini, told WoodTV in 2020, "The name will always be Big Boy but as far as the logo, [Dolly is] leading the charge and we'll see when [Big Boy] comes back if he does." Years later, it seems as though Dolly's time was cut short — the website once allowed fans to meet their newest mascot and learn about the latest tasty treats she was selling, but the site is no longer active. Fortunately for fans of the original star of the comic book series, Big Boy remains ever smiling and serving burgers at the remaining Bob's Big Boy locations.

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