Wirth: A trip through Dee’s Drive-ins, Craig Wirth remembers

Wirth

They have been gone 35 years… but pretty much everyone who was around remembers going to Dee’s Drive-ins.

You walked up to a window and ordered, in the shadow of the giant clown. The Dee Burger Clown that rocked back and forth over 50 food places.

Dees drive-ins were an icon of Utah up until 1982. How much of an icon? Well first of all most everyone who was here then can still sing the jingle.

You parked and ordered outside… Drive thrus? They came later.

Now the big deal was to bring home about a million burgers on 19 cent days. Lee and Lona Earl remember. He started as a cook at Dee’s. He wore a bow tie and a smile.

Especially on those discount days. Sometimes even less than 19 cent.

“Like we had a 10 cent day or a 13 cent day where all hamburgers were extremely discounted, said Super lee Earl. “And that usually took a week just to get ready for it. So it was fun. It was a competition between all of us managers, who could put out most hamburgers in that day. My record was 1,165 dozen in a day. That was moving!”

That’s 13,980 burgers. And then came the Super Dee. Now that changed everything.

Lee says he made them in exact order of ingredients.

It was a different time… a good time… oh I remember the 70’s. My editor Tim, who is younger, says no it was the 80s and I have to include the goodie box.

Well Dee’s sold the drive-ins… and summer days were no more as they once were. Today… the name lives on in a handful of Dee’s restaurants.

Julie Wells is a co-owner of the remaining Dee’s restaurants. She says the name is a heritage that means a great deal to her and the regulars.

“Really it’s an honor and a privilege that the family lets my business partners and myself still keep this name going,” said Wells. “You know it’s a great institution. It’s been around 88 years.”

And pretty much every day people tell her they remember the jingle of 40 years ago.

Oh … and yes… you can still get a Super Dee… just the way you could years ago. Well for over 80 years, the Super Dee, it’s been consistently that same – no changes. Well maybe one, oh this is a veggie burger.

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