072420_ExchangeHistory_FastFood1

The Exchange at 125: Who Remembers the ‘AAFES Burger?’

In 1984, Burger King became the first name-brand burger restaurant to join the AAFES family, opening 185 BKs throughout the world on Army and Air Force installations.

The Exchange’s foray into name-brand restaurants came in 1977 when Baskin-Robbins opened its famous ice-cream shop at Edwards AFB, Calif.

In 1984, Burger King became the first name-brand burger restaurant to join the AAFES family, opening 185 BKs throughout the world on Army and Air Force installations. The first one was at Ansbach, Germany. Other well-known restaurant companies joined the Exchange lineup.

Even as brand names were joining the family, the Exchange sought to meet customer demands for hamburgers. In 1981, the Exchange’s first Run-in Chef restaurant opened at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

The Exchange-exclusive restaurant introduced the “AAFES burger,” which flopped.

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29 Comments

  1. Donny on July 24, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    definitely remember the Run In Chef food truck stopping at the base pool when I was a dependent at Altus in the early 70’s

  2. Gerald Olson on July 24, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    I was the Main Store Manager at Fort Jackson, SC, arriving in 1976, and we had a Baskin Robbins in the mall at that time and I believe that was the 1st franchised AAFES facility.
    Gerald C. (Jerry) Olson

  3. Bernard on July 24, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    I remember the Burger Bar in Bremerhaven when my dad got stationed there in 1982…. I even worked there in 1988 when Anthony’s Pizza started serving out of the Burger Bar….. good times….

  4. Elisabeth Flecker on July 24, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    I remember the Burger King opening in Ansbach Germany ( Katterbach), we drove almost 45 minutes just to get a Whopper. It was really good.

  5. Elisabeth Flecker on July 24, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    I remember the Burger King opening in Ansbach ( Katter Bach) Germany. We drove almost 45 Minutes for a Whopper. It was really good.

    • WILLIAM on November 27, 2020 at 2:19 am

      I remember going to this Burger King in Germany when I lived in Ansbach from 1993-96 as a kid (my stepfather was stationed in Katterbach.) I got my first Whopper Junior at this one when I was 9 though I wanted a double cheeseburger. Also had my first Burger King fish sandwich here when they couldn’t cook burgers one day the year before. But I started getting Whoppers here on a regular basis, especially when it was Whopper Wednesday! I also used to go there on school Bowling Field Trips! We went to the bowling center across the spur track after Burger King!

      Cannot believe that that Burger King is gone now or that they put a Subway there although I haven’t been to Katterbach since 1998 (I was living in Sembach Air Base at that time.) Oh the memories!

      William, 35 years old.

      • Lisa Ferguson on November 27, 2020 at 7:38 am

        Thank you for sharing your memories with us, William.

  6. Robert on July 24, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    I remember the AAFES Burger, growing up in Stuttgart Germany, going over to Krabbenloch or Flak Kaserne from Pattonville in Ludwigsburg. Those were some good Burgers w/the “AAFES Sauce”. Ah, the memories…

  7. Mike Santy on July 24, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    I remember the Run In Chef trucks, AAFES Burgers, and AAFES Cafeteria’s back in the 70’s and 80’s. The Yokota Main Cafeteria would server breakfast and lunch cafeteria style during the day and then the cafeteria would transform into La Hacienda (Tex-Mex) restaurant for the evening.

  8. Robert McAfee on July 24, 2020 at 3:39 pm

    What was the AAFES burger???

    • Jack leavitt on July 24, 2020 at 5:08 pm

      The AAFES Burger is a very sad story about failure to communicate between purchasing and operations.
      Fortunately this was a learning experience which ultimately translated to the need for branded food such as Burger King.

  9. Jack leavitt on July 24, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    The AAFES Burger is a very sad story about failure to communicate between purchasing and operations.
    Fortunately this was a learning experience which ultimately translated to the need for branded food such as Burger King.

  10. Carl Lofstrom on July 24, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    A panel of AAFES Food Managers and others, met at Eglin AFB in the early 1960’s, for the purpose of finding the AAFES Hamburger. They evaluated a variety of hamburgers. The one hamburger that was made with a secret sauce was rated the best tasting and won over all others by a wide margin. A long table was setup outside the Run in Chef located at the end of the Eglin Base Exchange for the panel.

  11. Matti Bruce on July 25, 2020 at 8:11 pm

    It looks like the article cut off towards the end. Where is the rest of the story?

    • Loyd Brumfield on July 27, 2020 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks, Matti! A period got cut off at the end somehow. Thanks for the catch!

  12. lynn beers-whedbee on July 26, 2020 at 9:35 am

    remember Burger King at RAF Alconbury !! great place to work .Whopper wednesday was a great day for everyone of the military family
    Whopper eating contest was a great moral boost for the troops especialy when coming back from Desert storm !

  13. Dave Thacker on July 27, 2020 at 1:13 am

    Oh yes I remember the Run in Chef trucks out on the ranges

  14. Michael Wall on July 27, 2020 at 4:03 am

    The Davy Crocket Burger!

  15. Sueann York on July 27, 2020 at 6:39 am

    I remember eating Hamburgers that were wrapped in saran wrap in Germany (from 1960 – 1972). At the time we thought they tasted good and brought us alittle touch of the USA, but you wouldn’t catch me eating one today. Hamburgers were not well known then in other countries at that time.

  16. Lucy Zick on July 28, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    I also remember the run in chef when I worked at Military Clothing at Davis-Monthan back in the 80’s The store was near the flight line so it was nice when the truck showed up at our store & we could buy something yummy from it.

  17. Sharon Skerencak on August 5, 2020 at 11:23 am

    I worked at the AAFES Burger Bar in Hanau Germany in the 70s. Shortly after they turned them into Burger Kings. I worked at the one in Frankfurt. We had 6 registers plus drive thru and lines would be out the door.

    • Julie Mitchell on August 10, 2020 at 10:55 am

      Very cool — thanks for sharing your memories with us!

  18. Paul Stenseth on August 13, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    I was a manager at the Garlstedt Burger King, beginning in late 1985.

  19. George Thompson on August 28, 2020 at 11:38 am

    I worked at a snack bar near B-3-3, then later drove a Runnin Chef snack truck (a.k.a. Roach Coach although they were kept extremely clean) at Ft. Leonard Wood as a part time job after my senior year in high school in the mid to latter part of the 1970’s.

    • Julie Mitchell on August 28, 2020 at 5:32 pm

      Hi, George! Thanks for sharing with us!

  20. Bret Cantwell on December 13, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    I remember the AAFES cafeteria on Grafenwoehr in the early 80s and teenaged me was very excited at the introduction of the AAFES burger. No one in the civilian world makes SOS like you could get there. Also recall getting an excellent lunch of stuffed cabbage at the Nuremberg cafeteria.

    I guess they and the Stars and Stripes bookstores are all gone now.

    • Lisa Ferguson on December 14, 2020 at 7:29 am

      Thank you. Bret, for sharing this fun memory.

  21. George Larson on January 22, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    I remember when I first arrived as a dependent to Iraklion Air Station on Crete, Greece (86-92), they had an AAFES cafeteria right next to the BX which made burgers once they were ordered along with the fries. About halfway during my Dad’s tour there, they built a Burger Bar and Baskin Robbins. Unfortunately the quality of the burgers and fries declined, basically they just sat out and were not fresh. Thankfully the burgers at the bowling alley were fresh and good. We also had a Roach Coach right next to the middle/high school and the food to pretty good there as well. I really wish that base was still open.

    • Loyd Brumfield on January 22, 2021 at 2:50 pm

      Appreciate your great memories, George. Times certainly have changed!

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