Carl Karcher History

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In the first chapter of the book, Eric Schlosser explains the earliest pioneer of the fast food industry was Carl Karcher, who began in Southern California, the cities of which were to become the model for all other cities in the United States during the post-World War II era. The automobile industry, which is one of the most important technological innovations that would change the American’s way of life in a tremendous amount of ways, attributed to the California’s huge growth, particularly after the war. Karcher came to California from Ohio, where he was a member of an itinerant farming family. He began work in his uncle's feed store, became a bakery truck driver, married, and, with good foresight, spent $326.00 to purchase a hot dog stand which stood across the street from the Goodyear factory, in 1941. He sold hot dogs, tamales and chili dogs for ten cents, soda for five cents. During the war, the Goodyear factory expanded, and so did Carl's business. And, as often occurs in history, seemingly unrelated occurrences merge to impact society in profound ways. In this case, it was the infant fast food phenomenon and the American infatuation with the car. By 1940, there were a million cars in Los Angeles alone. Certainly, the automobile offered an independence not available via trains and trolleys, which ran on schedules and packed strangers into small places. As well, the first of a lengthy and still prevalent collaboration among the oil tire and car industries began to wield political power, achieving government responsibility for road building. Railroads and trolley companies had been responsible for the expense of laying their own track without tax dollars. At the same time, General Motors began to secretly purchase trolley s... ... middle of paper ... ... of the mountain, owning hundreds of restaurants and a publicly-traded corporation. He expanded into Texas with newer menu items and franchises. The restaurants did poorly, and the stock began to fall. At the same time, some of his real estate investments went bad, and he paid huge fines to the SEC to avoid trial for insider trading. Eventually, in 1993, after disagreements about the direction of the food chain, his board of directors ousted him. Carl then implemented a takeover of the company through some partnerships and loans from others and immediately instituted his original plan to save the company--a joint venture with Green Burrito, Inc. to add Mexican food to his menu. The venture was a success, and, in 1997, Carl Karcher Enterprises (CKE) purchased Hardees for $327 million. Still paying off loans, Carl Karcher plans to leave this life debt-free and happy.
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