When I was a teenager in Toledo Ohio, my friends and I would always go to Frischs’ Big Boy after or before events. Sometimes going to Big Boy was the event itself. We would usually order cokes and french fries and hang out for hours, moving from table to table. Occasionally, if I was feeling daring, I would order a slice of their awesome strawberry pie that was made with whole strawberries. Outside the Big Boy was a large statue of Big Boy himself flaunting his double burger (Big Boy’s supposedly created the very first double burger ever!) with a big smile on his face and his pompadour intact in any kind of weather. Often we would take pictures of ourselves in front of Big Boy. Even when the family would go there, we stood around Big Boy for photos. He adorned most of the Big Boy restaurants across the country.
This last weekend, JB and I stayed at a Red Roof Inn in Ann Arbor. We were here for a celebration of my mother and her twin’s 88th birthday. And connected to the Red Roof Inn in a slightly updated and contemporized glory was Big Boy himself, proudly displaying the self-same double burger, pompadour still intact after these many, many years (and no sign of gray), not even a wrinkle. It made me laugh and recollections of old friends and boyfriends flooded my memory— including one of KK who, as we drove past a time/temperature sign on a bank, said he was so hot he could make the temperature go up. He blew out of the car window and lo and behold, the temperature changed from 81 degrees to 82. He was even more surprised than I was. I thought for sure this was true love. We were on our way to Big Boy’s, where we promptly shared the story with multiple tables of my peers.
My favorite Big Boy story, however, happened in the spring of 1995, long after I had left the city, when the Big Boy on Secor Avenue in Toledo was “kidnapped” and parts of his body were strewn all over town. This is the AP article I read then and which still makes me smile.
Dismembered Big Boy: Yes, Officer, That’s His Pompadour, All Right
TOLEDO, OHIO TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) _ Who killed Big Boy?
Someone stole the 300-pound, 6-foot Big Boy statue from a restaurant Friday, dismembered the grinning fiberglass fellow with a hacksaw, scrawled “Big Boy is dead” on the pieces and dropped them off around town Sunday.
Between giggles, police are taking the theft seriously.
“This is a sad, sad day for the city when somebody would desecrate a hallowed symbol of the 1950s and 1960s,” Sgt. Richard Murphy said Monday, his brow furrowed in concern.
Then he grinned.
“It’s really hard to keep a straight face when you talk about it,” he said. “We’ve been trying to put him together again like Humpty Dumpty. I think he looks pretty good for a guy who’s been cut up.”
The hamburger-toting statue with the black pompadour, red-and-white checkered pants and suspenders has guarded the doors of Big Boy restaurants around the world since the 1930s. The chain is owned by Warren, Mich.-based Elias Brothers Restaurants Inc., which operates 850 restaurants worldwide.
Murphy said Big Boy was chopped into seven pieces. His hamburger was intact, but his right ear and part of his belly were still missing.
A note was attached to all but one of the severed limbs with the message: “Big Boy is Dead.” A note attached to one limb said: “Big Boy is almost dead. Nevermind. Now he’s dead.” ….
Taped to the severed right buttock was a newspaper ad that said: “Strip Steak $2.29 a pound.”
“They had a sense of humor,” Murphy said.
The statue was worth about $4,000.
Restaurant Manager David Nelson said his Big Boy, whose feet had been encased in cement to prevent thievery, was discovered missing Friday morning, parts of shiny black shoes left behind. The eatery, one of 10 Big Boys in the city, has been closed for remodeling.
Nelson found Big Boy’s severed head outside the restaurant Sunday morning.
“I couldn’t believe that someone would do that to him,” Nelson said. “He’s friendly, always smiling, ready to greet our customers. I mean, what kind of person would do this to him?”
It wasn’t long after Nelson reported the theft that police began fielding calls from other Big Boy restaurants where body parts were deposited.
“Nine times out of 10 if the Big Boy is missing, he’s usually down at the University of Toledo,” Nelson said. “During fraternity season, they do that as a prank.”
Each time, he had been returned no worse for wear.
The culprits could be charged with grand theft, punishable by up to two years in jail, Murphy said.
Customers at one Big Boy were abuzz about the theft.
“Hey,” said truck driver Robert Keane, “it was probably somebody who didn’t like the food.”
© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.