The Pig Stand “drive-in” opened in 1921 in Dallas and soon became a popular restaurant chain. The Pig Stand featured “car hops” who brought meals to customers waiting in their cars. It is claimed that the terms “drive-in” and “car hop” (as well as food terms such as “Texas Toast” and “chicken-fried steak sandwich”) originated at the Pig Stand.
The chain almost folded (“drive-through” became more popular than “drive-in”), but there are still Pig Stands in some areas of Texas, such as San Antonio.
A drive-in is a facility such as a bank, restaurant, or movie theater where one can literally drive in with an automobile for service. It is usually distinguished from a drive-through. At a drive-in restaurant, for example, customers park their vehicles and are usually served by staff who walk out to take orders and return with food, encouraging diners to remain parked while they eat. At a drive-through restaurant, conversely, customers wait in a line and pass by one or more windows to order, pay, and receive their food, encouraging them to take their meals elsewhere to eat.
In the German-speaking world, the term is now often used instead of “drive-through” for that kind of service. In Japan, the term refers to a rest area. In France, this term has become popular because of American movies showing that kind of service, and more recently due to the expansion of fast-food restaurants.
The first drive-in restaurant was Kirby’s Pig Stand, which opened in Dallas, Texas, in 1921. In North America, drive-in facilities of all types have become less popular since their heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, with drive-throughs rising to prominence since the 1970s and 1980s.
Pig Stands World’s First Drive-Ins
By Carol Sowa
The fast-food industry of today owes its start to a Texas pig that continues to “fly high” in the Alamo City.
Folks went hog wild when the first Pig Stand opened in Dallas in 1921. Agile “car hops” leaped onto running boards of Model-Ts to deliver “curb service” to a generation on the go. It was the age of the automobile, and Pig Stands multiplied across America faster than you can say “soooo-eeee.” It took the Great Depression of the ‘30s to slow “The Pig” down. Pig Stands, pioneers in franchising, pared down to concentrate on company-owned Texas stands, which continued to lead the way in dining innovations. Besides offering the world the first drive-in dining and drive-through window, Pig Stands introduced the taste buds of the world to onion rings in the ‘20s, “Texas Toast” and the chicken-fried steak sandwich in the ‘40s. Of course, their best-known offering is their original, trademarked “Pig Sandwich,” featuring tender, sliced barbecue pork with relish and sauce on a bun.
The Pig Stand: An American Tradition
In 1921 the Pig Stand made its debut in Dallas, with its tasty Pig Sandwiches that remain a favorite today. It was also during this time that young men, in an effort to serve all customers and avoid traffic jams, would jump on the running boards of cars, take the food orders and return as soon as possible with the meal. Thus, the term “carhop” originated!
One such carhop was a young Royce Hailey who began work in 1930 and worked his way up through the organization to become president in 1955. His son Richard Hailey continues the Pig Stand tradition. Rose Hoots, Pig Stand Manager for thirty years commented, “The biggest change that I have noticed in my many years as manager is the absence of the carhops. I think that since our customers have also stayed with us for years, that “trend” was simply outgrown.”
(Oxford English Dictionary)
drive-in, a. (and n.)
Designating a restaurant, cinema, bank, etc., into or up to which a customer can drive his car and, without leaving it, have a meal, see a film, effect a business transaction, etc. Hence as n., such a restaurant, cinema, etc.
1930 San Antonio (Texas) Light 31 Jan. 14/5 (Advt.), Drive-in drink and sandwich, with living room and bath.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
car-hop U.S. colloq., a waiter or waitress who serves customers in their parked cars
1937 Amer. Speech XII. 320/1 At roadside drive-ins..the waitresses are now being called curbies or *car-hops.
31 October 1928, New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, pg. 30, col. 2 classified ad:
PIG STAND AND RESTAURANT
Opportunity for live wire to secure fine location on S. Claiborne corner Third for drive-in service. Restaurant, ice cream and drinks, opposite two schools with 3000 children.
27 July 1930, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Subdividers Plan Meeting,” pg. D10:
Opening of a drive-in restaurant it the southwest corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and West Vernon avenue will be celebrated Sunday August 10 officials of the ...
21 September 1930, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Drive-In Chain Planned,” pg. D3:
A. F. La Gler and Mrs. Esther A. West are the principals In the drive-in restaurant concern which plans to have 100 units in operation with in the next two ...
21 June 1931, Oregonian (Portland, OR), sec. 2, pg. 2, col. 3:
A five-year lease was closed on the 100 by 100-foot lot at East Twelfth and Madison streets when E. Perry leased to N. V. Marks this property for a high-class drive-in restaurant.
25 December 1949, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “How America Eats” by Clementine Paddleford, This Week magazine, [g. 12, col. 4:
Speaking of ice cream, a hello to Mr. W. H. Fortune, maker of those rich and sparkle-good sodas known in Memphis, Tenn., to three generations. Mr. Fortune’s father started the world’s first drive-in curb service in 1906.