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Wimpy Bars

December 29, 2015

Today I was in the small Essex town/suburb of Loughton, and passed, in the High Street, a Wimpy Bar. A Wimpy Bar! It was like stumbling across an ankylosaurus. How many Wimpy Bars are left in the UK, I wonder. I know there’s one in Lowestoft, at least there was about three years ago. I don’t know of any others.

For overseas readers I should perhaps explain that Wimpy Bars are a British chain of hamburger restaurants, which were quite widespread when I was young; but they were virtually killed off by the arrival on these shores of MacDonalds, and shortly afterwards Burger King, in the 1970s. But how did they come to be called Wimpy Bars? What marketing genius thought that was a good idea?

I think the answer must be that they were named after the bowler-hatted, hamburger-noshing character named Wimpy who used to appear in the Popeye cartoons. This was before the term wimp, to mean a sexually inexperienced person, became current. After that of course the word quite rapidly widened its usage to mean anyone who was inept or feeble or ineffectual, as in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. So poor old Wimpy Bars went from having a not-uncool name to an extremely uncool name in a few short years.

From memory, though, Wimpy hamburgers were extremely delicious. Perhaps I’ll stop off in Loughton and treat myself to a Wimpy one of these days – before it’s forever too late.

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  1. Debbie Smith permalink

    Wow, that was quite a find Brandon! In a nearby town where I grew up, I once remember visiting it’s Wimpy Bar, also remember how tasty the burger was! I feel pretty sure it no longer exists on Redcar High Street though but will check! Hope you get to visit that town again soon and definitely pay the “restaurant” a visit! Xx

  2. There’s one in Swanage, Dorset.

  3. Nicola permalink

    There’s also one in Peterborough

  4. Sarah Chandler permalink

    Brandon, I vaguely remember in the 70s going to a Wimpy with my friend and her older sisters and having things such as tomato soup and cheese on toast – a long way from what they do now. I visit burger bars about twice a year now to keep my seven-year-old daughter happy.
    Loved Back in Time, as everyone has – must try and catch the ones I missed.
    Am pausing before resuming my latest TMA. Waiting for last one to be marked – hope I got more than 58%! Still have your poem – brilliant. Thanks v.much for your guidance on Children s Lit year before last. Must check out your latest publication and see if it s the one you talked about.
    Kind regards, Sarah Chandler

  5. Giacometti permalink

    There’s one in Streatham mate. Maybe come south of the river occasionally…

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