You've got to hand it to Arby's: The fast food chain's not focused on any niche International cuisine, like Taco Bell or Chipotle, and it's not flippin' burgers like everyone else. It's made a complete success by focusing on the unlikely roast beef sandwich. But upon a deeper dive, we discovered Arby's is so much more than America's favorite sandwich shop. Here are ten things you have to know about the chain.
1. There's no one named "Arby."
The chain was started by two brothers, Leroy and Forrest Raffel, and they wanted to call it "Big Tex." When they found out someone in Akron, OH, had already called dibs on the name, they went with the second best option — "Arby's", after R.B., the initials of the Raffel Brothers. There have been rumors that the name is related to the chain's most famous meat, roast beef—but that connection is just a funny coincidence.
2. The original menu only had three items — and none of them was a burger.
In 1964, you could order a roast beef sandwich, potato chips, and a drink from Arby's. While every other fast food joint was slinging burgers, the Raffel boys wanted to do something different. They got the idea for a roast beef sandwich after seeing patrons line up for one at a Boston sandwich shop.
3. You can get ALL of Arby's meat piled on one over-the-top sandwich.
It's called the Meat Mountain, and the chain sells the sandwich to 300 to 400 brave souls every day. But get this: It's about to get even bigger. Guests kept asking if they could add fish to the sandwich — as if it needs any more protein — so for the month of March, you can order the Meat Mountain "Denali-style", with Alaskan Pollock.
4. Arby's fans are obsessed with venison.
When 17 select restaurants in what Arby's called "deer-hunting states" introduced a venison sandwich, it sold out a matter of minutes. Corporate even got calls, emails and social media posts begging them to bring it to other locations. Nebraska made the biggest noise and scored a week of the sandwich on special in Lincoln and Omaha.
5. If you've eaten there recently, you should check your bank statement.
Earlier this month, Arby's announced they'd suffered a massive security breach, during which hackers had access to more than 355,000 customers' credit card information, from potentially upwards of 1,000 stores. The investigation is ongoing, but the malware in the system has been completely removed.
6. They hold the record for world's longest fry (and TV commercial).
Customer Kim Medford made headlines when she found a 38-inch curly fry in her order from a Waynesville, NC, Arby's. It was the only one in the entire container. A year later, Arby's won another long record — this time on purpose. To prove that their brisket is cooked for a full 13 hours before being served, they aired a of the process on a Duluth, MN, channel.
7. Arby's bought Pharrell's hat.
Yes, that hat. Pharrell wore the Vivienne Westwood headpiece during the 2014 Grammy's, and fans immediately noticed its resemblance to the hat in the Arby's logo. So when the singer put the hat up for sale on eBay, Arby's scooped it up for a cool $44,100 and donated every penny to a children's technology and arts charity.
8. Arby's and Jon Stewart have beef.
The former late night host was notorious for slamming the fast food chain, joking "It's like shock and awe for your bowels." But Arby's took advantage of Jon roasting them, sending food to the show's staff and even sponsoring Jon's second-to-last episode of the Daily Show.
9. The fast-food chain makes an effort to be somewhat healthy.
In 1994, Arby's became the first chain restaurant to ban smoking in all of its locations. And three years before that, they were the first fast-food chain to come out with a "lite" menu. It featured salads that packed less than 300 calories. They still sell three relatively low-cal salads and offer applesauce on the kids menu.
10. Arby's chefs are always coming up with new ideas.
They've said they test more than every year, and lucky customers across the country get to try about 100 of them before Arby's analyzes their success. Over the years, that's included meatball subs, crème brulee shakes, and a steak fajita flatbread.