It's tough to be completely original anymore, but sometimes it can happen. However, even original ideas are sparked from some kind of inspiration.

For two major, national food chains, their burgers were inspired by small, community, staple diners from Michigan, and you'll be amazed to find out who the brands are, and what diners inspired them.

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I was watching videos on Youtube the other day, and there's a channel called "First we Feast." One of the shows featured Burger Scholar George Motz, and he just happened to drop a little nugget, that at least TWO major restaurant chains based their burgers on two of Michigan's own small diners.

So which two brands were they? One you might already know, but the other is DEFINITELY a surprise to me!

Kewpee in Kalamazoo Inspired Dave Thomas to create his Iconic Wendy's Burger.
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Kewpee Hamburgers in Kalamazoo, inspired Wendy's!

For residents of the midwest - especially in Michigan and Ohio - Kewpee Hamburgers was the standard. Started as a burger stand in Flint, Michigan, the brand build their first physical location just after WWI. From there, they quickly expanded, and spread to almost 400 locations across Michigan, Ohio, and other spots in the Midwest.

One location happened to be in Kalamazoo, Michigan, home to a man who would eventually star in his own commercials, and tout his own square hamburger patties... Dave Thomas.

Thomas is obviously known for founding the burger chain Wendy's, named after his daughter, and known for their square patties. The chain is officially Ohio-based, but where did Dave get his burger influences from?

It was from the Kewpee Hamburgers location in his hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. (See, even Ohio burger chains have to get their ideas from Michigan.) Kewpee Hamburgers was known for their simple Olive Burgers and their square patties.

Dave Thomas grew up on them, so naturally, it stands to reason, his square burgers at Wendy's are an ode to that familiar taste.


The Famous Greene's Hamburger Sliders inspired the burgers on the Cheesecake Factory's Menu.

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Greene's Hamburgers in Farmington, Inspired The Cheesecake Factory's Sliders!

Yeah, you read that headline correctly, the sliders on the appetizer menu at the Cheesecake Factory, are an almost exact (maybe smaller) duplicate of the burgers you would get at Greene's Hamburgers in Farmington, Michigan.

The CEO, and founder of the Cheesecake Factory, David Overton, grew up in the Farmington area, and according to Burger Scholar George Motz, he would spend his hard-earned paper route money on the burgers at Greene's.

As a result, when he got his own restaurant chain going - the Cheesecake Factory - he created the appetizer called "Roadside Sliders." Those burgers are directly inspired by what Overton would eat as a kid in Farmington, and he insisted that all of his restaurants make them the same way, even steaming the buns on top of the patties as they cooked.


I always knew that Michigan had a rich food history, but had NO idea how inspiring the local scene was for such major brands across the country, including these two.

Pretty incredible, and you can watch the full video of Burger Scholar George Motz explaining the lore (and cooking the burgers themselves), you'll see just how simple things used to be, before these big chains got going.

Who Makes the Best Olive Burgers in Michigan?

The olive burger - it's a Michigan classic. While the traditional olive burger is a beef patty topped with Swiss Cheese, Chopped Green Olives, and Mayonnaise, some restaurants like to mix it up. Where's your favorite spot to grab an olive burger in the Mitten State? The following restaurants are serving up olive burgers that top a lot of Michigander's lists.

Gallery Credit: Janna

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