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Restaurant icon Big Boy shrinks from competition

Big Boy

September 24, 1996
Web posted at: 3:20 a.m. EDT

From Correspondent John Zarrella

MIAMI (CNN) -- American icon and hamburger huckster Big Boy is being brought into the 1990s with a makeover ordered by corporate brass.

Hamburger in hand, the chubby Big Boy figure has happily greeted diners from outside Big Boy restaurants for 60 years. Since 1958, he's also starred in "The Adventures of Big Boy," a comic book that is distributed free to youngsters visiting the restaurants.

But Big Boy execs have decided it's time for the bulky hero to slim down and enter the health-conscious, techno-crazy '90s.

"The comic book has been in existence for close to 40 years and the children have told us that it is time for a change," said Tony Michaels, Big Boy vice president of marketing .

Yoe Bernhard

The new Big Boy, updated by Yoe! Studios, will hold a cellular phone in one hand and a computer mouse in the other. His girlfriend, Dolly, is also making the transition; she will be a career woman.

And there won't be any burgers or fries in sight.

"We have put him on an exercise program," Craig Yoe, the man in charge of the image overhaul, said with a smile. "He's privately using his Ab Roller Plus. Then he's got a personal trainer."

Big Boy moral

The move represents a big adjustment for Manfred Bernhard, who has produced the comic book -- 600,000 are handed out every month -- since its inception.

The Big Boy comics have always differed from other denizens of the genre, says Bernhard. He worked hard to produce positive messages, stories with Big Boy always doing the right thing.

"It isn't just entertainment. It has some value to it ... family values, they call it," said Bernhard.

But never fear. Company officials insist Big Boy's morals will remain steadfast. He just won't have the same high cholesterol count.


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