Cardee’s Jr

I grew up in California and have lived pretty much all my life there. The Carl’s Jr. burger chain, itself born in Southern California, has always been a cultural fixture for me in the western United States. Knowing that they didn’t have Carl’s back east was one of those sad little things about moving to Florida that I was going to have to get used to.

Driving down I-10 in the middle of the South somewhere, though, I started seeing a familiar logo on the Gas-Food-Lodging signs. Perhaps fatigue from the long drive had made me hallucinate? But no, I got a good up-close look at one next to a gas station in northern Florida:

Oh look, a Carl'... wha?

Even the web sites are the same… Carl’s vs Hardee’s

Well, a quick peek through the company history pages indicates that Carl Karcher Enterprises bought out the Hardee’s chain in the 1990s, and started rebranding it in the 2000s with the “new look” (apparently the Carl’s logo) and new menu items. It’s kind of… creepy nonetheless. I guess they didn’t want to lose local brand recognition by changing the name, but adopting a different logo seems kind of weird.

Combining the maps from the store locators, it seems there’s no territorial overlap between the Carl’s and Hardee’s chains:

Carls and Hardees maps combined

Only Oklahoma has both; there’s one Hardee’s way out East, but it’s miles away from the nearest Carl’s. Both chains are missing in the Northeast, which is probably why I haven’t stumbled on any Hardee’s back east before…

Looks like there is a Hardee’s in town here in St. Pete, I’ll have to track it down and see if the inside is as eerily familiar as the outside.

3 thoughts on “Cardee’s Jr”

  1. It sounds a lot like the divide between “Best Foods” and “Hellman’s” mayonnaise. “Known as Best Foods west of the Rockies” has been their watchword since, oh, I’d guess the 1930’s.

    Oddly enough, the recipes for the mayonnaise are _slightly_ different, apparently tailored to local tastes. Some people are picky enough, they buy several jars of the “other” mayonnaise when they go visiting across the continental divide.

    You’ve got to admire the fact that the company website is!

    They have a little bit of background on their site, and how the two brand names came to be a part of Americana:

  2. You were right here in St Pete, and I missed it? :-)

    The Hardees, as you no doubt found out, is on the southeast corner of 38th Ave and “The Highway” (as the taxi drivers call it, to avoid the numeric confusion between 34th St. and US 19).

    We don’t get Paris Hilton, though.

    When are you leaving?

  3. Ok so im a San Diego boy and when I took a trip to Helena montana, i thought i was crazy when i saw a “hardees” commercial. I for some reason remember a carls jr in Gila Bend AZ on that same trip cuz we went through flagstaff then got onto the 15 in utah. But on my more recent trip when we drove through Gila Bend this time, there was no Carls jr in Gila Bend. I know Gila bend is puny, and there are like 100 people in the world who have heard of it, does anybody know what happened to this amazing restaraunt????????

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