If you’re from Texas, you’ve most likely eaten at Whataburger. This beloved San Antonio-based chain has been going strong since its founding in the 1950s, and the classic 5-inch Whataburger — topped with mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and diced onions — is a fast-food institution. But even if you have a prized collection of the chain’s vintage Nickel Mugs, we bet there’s still a lot you didn’t know about this chain.
Whataburger was founded in 1950 by the duo of Harmon Dobson and Paul Burton; Dobson’s idea was to "make a better burger that took two hands to hold and tasted so good that when you took a bite you would say, 'What a burger!'" according to the company. The first location, what amounted to a tiny shack on Ayers Street in Corpus Christi, Texas, sold 25-cent burgers, drinks, and chips, and within a week it had customers lining up around the block. Burton left the company the following year after Dobson raised the prices of burgers to 30 cents, and today the Whataburger website makes no mention of him.
Business continued to boom despite the price increase (all the way up to a whopping 35 cents by the end of 1951), and by 1965, there were more than 30 stores selling 15,000 burgers daily. Dobson sadly passed away in an airplane crash in 1967, but thanks to the hard work of his widow, Grace, the company didn’t miss a beat. She became chairman of the board and oversaw the continued expansion, the addition of new menu items, and the growth of the chain into what it is today; “Lady Grace,” as she came to be known, passed away in 2005.
Today, there are nearly 800 locations of Whataburger in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and, of course, Texas. The menu now includes avocado bacon burgers on Texas toast, chicken strips, chicken fajita tacos, breakfast taquitos, and even biscuits and gravy (and you can buy their signature sauces and breakfast sausage at H-E-B), but it all started with the classic Whataburger, which is still the same burger that was sold by Harmon Dobson on day one.