The Strange Story Behind The Fuddruckers Name

Fuddruckers doesn't quite roll off the tongue, but the name does stick in your mind. The home of the trademarked phrase "World's Greatest Hamburgers" has franchises from Canada to Panama and across the United States. It's known for its fresh custom, specialty, and game burgers made exactly the way you like it. But beyond the menu of the self-aggrandizing burger chain, just how did it get its unusual name?

It all began in 1979, when Phil Romano, the owner of two karate dojos, sold his schools to open a burger joint in North Palm Beach with the dad of one of his karate students. He took the $40,000 from both academies to, ahem, kickstart his new venture, which was named after a legendary, perhaps even mythical, airline company called Fudpucker's World Airlines, whose mere existence is questionable.

Romano initially called his place "Freddie Fuddruckers," and was only with the company for 10 years before stepping down and moving on to other projects, like Romano's Macaroni Grill.

So, what's the story of the airline that inspired Fuddruckers' name? Keep reading to find out.

The story of Fudpucker's is filled with satire and a bit of mystery

Fudpucker World Airways, a "mostly make-believe" airline, was created by an imaginary solo flyer using the pseudonym Dudley P. Fudpucker Jr. in Hicksville, N.Y. There were absurd claims, such as being "The World's Only Steam-Powered Airline," and promotional materials were sold to further the gag, including pretend pilot licenses, hats, T-shirts, mugs, embroidered logo patches, and stickers (per Of Flying Clouds and China Clippers).

In true 1970s fashion, Fudpucker's World Airways capitalized on its satire, saying it had been "navigating the world since it was square" (as shown on its logo), and came up with its own dictionary for aviation practices. (For example, its entry for "Airplane" states, "The infernal machine invented by two bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio and perfected on the sands of the Outer Banks of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Precursor of the Frisbee.")

However, the airline did have some authenticity to it. A group of 1970s expert pilots who flew former military planes at aviation shows adopted the name Fudpucker World Airlines while touring the trick-aviation circuit. The group purportedly included a roster of household names like John Schafhausen, Frank Strickler, Bubba Beal, Robbie Roberts, Connie and Tex Edwards. It's rumored Schafhausen was the creator, and Fudpucker was quoted saying, "White sheep stay home, while black sheep are adventurers who travel the world!" Schafhausen was the pilot of the Vought F4U Corsair, an American fighter plane used in WWII and Korea nicknamed "black sheep."

Today, the vintage regalia can be found on sites like eBay.