Oklahoma City Created Fat People

By Stan Silliman

I’m not trying to come off as a Chamber of Commerce ad but I have civic pride and my little city did its part in building our country’s economy. Oklahoma City created fat people!

There. I said it. Our little berg had a part in the beefing up of our great nation. Without Oklahoma City, Pizza Hut might not be in business, Weight Watchers wouldn’t be the economic giant, Big and Tall Stores … no need, furniture stores wouldn’t have to restock, there would be no Golden Corral. All these enterprises can thank Oklahoma City for the part we had in creating bulging waistlines.

You’re welcome, America. But how did we do this, you ask? Through well-conceived inventions and business creations. Do you need a history lesson? Let’s go back to the 1930s, depression, huge unemployment, soup kitchens. Look at this picture. You know what you don’t see – fat people:

Do you know why? People didn’t have a lot to eat plus they exercised. Even when they went shopping it was always downtown and parking was free so people left their cars far from where they had to shop and walked to get their goods. Downtown streets, like this one in Dallas, looked like:

You see above. Cars just sat there, all day. If you wanted merchandise you parked a long way away and walked. That is, until Carl McGhee, in Oklahoma City decided towns needed this thing:

Do you get it? The “Parking Meter” invented in 1935, made parking spaces more expensive and less available meaning, if you were willing to insert a nickel or a dime, you could park closer, save steps, save exercise, resulting in adding a few pounds.

That’s not all, of course, but the Parking Meter was a start. The next problem to be solved was how to get people to buy bigger quantities. When you went to the grocery store, you lugged a shopping bag or a box or a paper sack but only as much as you could carry, limiting the quantities and product sizes you could buy. You couldn’t get very fat if all you could buy was what you carry in one trip. That required more exercise than you could consume. The solution? Sylvan Goldman, in OKC, built this thing, the first “shopping cart.”:

Now, you carry several bags at once plus you can buy in larger jars and boxes. Yum! Now, you can eat… big. And did we. Even the names of our grocery stores in Oklahoma and around the country reflected our appetites. Stores with names like Humpty Dumpty and:

Trying to tell us something?

Yeah, people were getting a little fatter. But Oklahoma City wasn’t through. We sat in the center of a wave of an idea where you could eat even more – the trough type, all you can eat buffets, the glutatoriums, the human feed lots with names like Corral, Stockade, Bonanza, Western Sizzling, Ponderosa, places like:

With mountains of grub on the inside looking like:

That guy knows how to fill a plate. But do you know what was wrong? He had to get up from his chair, even if he did so four or five times, and WALK to the buffet. He was EATING, yes, LOTS, yes, BUT he had to get up from his chair and EXERCISE his way to the buffet line. Oklahoma City looked at the trough restaurants and thought “There has to be a better way!” What if we made it where all the consumer had to do was drive up in his car, stick his hand out the window, punch a button, order his food and a carhop on roller skates BRINGS THE FOOD TO HIM!

So there you go, Sonic Drive In, headquartered in OKC. You can eat, get fat, without having to leave your car. You’re welcome, America!

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