For anyone who’s traveled through Texas, the sight of an orange-and-white striped A-frame roof is as distinctive (and more delicious) than any set of golden arches. Since 1950, Texans (and lucky residents in a few other states) have enjoyed the size, taste, and freshness of concept that started in a little hamburger joint in Corpus Christi that made diners exclaim, “What a burger!”
Since 1950, Texans (and lucky residents in a few other states) have enjoyed the size, taste and freshness of a concept that started in a little hamburger joint in Corpus Christi that made diners exclaim, “What a burger!”
On June 23, 1950, the Texas Secretary of State granted a trademark to Harmon Dobson for the name, “Whataburger.” After a successful career as an entrepreneur in the oil drilling and shipbuilding industries, Dobson and his partner, Paul Burton, invested in opening their own burger place in May 1950. The site soon became one of the most popular places in Corpus Christi, especially with students from nearby Del Mar College.
By 1953, Dobson expanded to three locations in Corpus Christi. That same year, he opened his fourth restaurant in Kingsville. The location was also a hit with college students, this time at the Texas A&M University branch campus. The first Whataburger outside of Texas opened in Pensacola, Florida, in 1959. Today, Whataburger stores can be found all over the South and Southwest, including Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
Although the color scheme is now synonymous with the brand, the distinctive orange and white stripes were not part of the Whataburger look until more than a decade after the first location opened. The first store to feature the looks opened in Odessa, Texas, in 1961. The famous “Flying W” logo, inspired by Dobson’s love of aviation, became part of the company in 1967.
The popular chain expanded its operations to include breakfast in 1979 and began 24-hour service in 1982. In 2001, state legislators declared Whataburger a “Texas Treasure“. Every restaurant still serves a quarter-pound “Whataburger” on a five-inch bun with fresh lettuce, tomato slices, dill pickles, onions and spicy ketchup. Despite the competition from national chains, Whataburger remains the “burger king” of the Lone Star State.