Orville Smackey was a poor farmer in Kankakee County Illinois. His wife Maria and their four children - Juan, Henry, Ida and Slackey lived as tenant farmers on the land of Cactus Rudicil. Orville recalled the early days in his autobiography, I ate the Cat.
"Most years we ate what we killed. Raccoon, squirrel, old horses, possum and whatever else came to us. But every thanksgiving I would take the family to the local butcher and we would get enough ground beef to last till New Years. I became an expert at making hamburgers. Everyday between Thanksgiving and New Years Day our neighbors would stop by wanting a "Smackey Burger." In fact, they would even pay me fifty cents for the burger. Well, it didn't take much smarts to figure that I could make more money selling them Smackey Burgers than farming for that land owner Cactus Rudicil."
In the summer of 1948, Orville set up a small hamburger stand at the Kankakee County Fair. The success was overwhelming and the Smackey Burger was awarded the Fair's Blue Ribbon for Best Food at the Fair. The stand was a true family business with everyone helping. Slackey Smackey was the youngest of the children but was the best pitchman as he lured customers to the stand with the now famous slogan "Smackey Burgers, You can't beat the meat!" It was true. Smackey Burgers were the best tasting hamburgers ever. Juan, Henry and Orville made and cooked the burgers and Ida and Maria served their customers. From the Fair of '48 the Smackey's earned enough money to open a small Hamburger Stand near the state highway. Within five years the small stand had grown to a full restaurant that could seat 30 customers. In another 20 years the Smackey Burger name had grown and began to attract the rich and famous. Presidents, movie stars and sports hero were known to utter that famous slogan "You can't beat the meat." Today, more Smackey Burgers are sold than vibrators. If you have not tasted a Smackey Burger then do so today!
Writer for the Milwaukee Post Accent