Introduction: Resurrect a Brand - Burger Chef - Part 6 - Vintage Food Service Hat

About: Hi. I am a Dad, software product manager and avid runner. I enjoy building projects with my kids which generally means approaching design using inexpensive materials. Simplicity in design and build processe…

To understand this food service worker hat and it's shape, you need to be a bit of a time traveler. Shape, color palette, portion, and typography take inspiration from time periods decades apart from one another. This clearly is not an everyday soda jerk hat. The overall shape is proportionally close to the Norman Rockwell's McDonalds version. You'll note that he visits this shape numerous times. The color palette is early 60s Burger Chef with a dominating use of soft blue and fiery orange. The shape and construction of the hat is original. The hat practically boasts with an exaggerated sky bound arch. All of the illustrations and logos have been painstakingly recreated from scratch.

In contrast, most paper hats you see in use today are rectangular soda jerk hats. A good example of these are found at In-N-Out and Krispy-Kreme. The soda jerk shape is practical in that it allows the walls to slip into each other and fit a variety of head sizes. I think the short rectangular shape looks more like a paper sweatband.  My personal preference is that of the army hat silhouette.

Building the hat is very easy. You just need a bit of patience, good lighting, and a steady hand. Your most formidable obstacle is materials. The hats are printed on 13x19 (Super-B) photo matte paper using Claria non smearing photo ink. You will not get acceptable results using a run of the mill ink jet printer.

Worth noting:

1. CKE, the parent company of Hardees, Carl's Jr and probably many chains you know, still owns and actively protects their Burger Chef patents and trademarks. A simple Google search will show you that as recently as 2007, Hardees successfully dismantled a claim by a company that they abandoned the Burger Chef trademark.

2. This fan art project is part of a series. Look for roughly one per week over the next two months. Here are the Instructables you will see as part of this series:
1. Brand Identity, color palette, and logo
2. Cup
3. Road Sign
5. Placemat
6. Food Service Hat
7. French Fry container

3. Before we get started, I wanted to acknowledge that it would have been impossible to create this project without the web sites of archivists Jeff Flack and Kyle Brown. These guys have the difficult and mostly thankless job of validating the authenticity and preserving the mountain of material generated from the once mighty Burger Chef marketing machine. Both web sites are worth your time if you wish to read more about Burger Chef. Jeff in particular was nice enough to correspond with me by email and offer encouragement as I worked on the FUNMEAL and Cup. Which interestingly answers another question; yes, Jeff Lives!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

For this project, you will need:
1. Wide format photo printer (~Epson Stylus Photo 1400)
2. Super-B (13”x19”) Photo Supreme Matte Paper
3. White Wrapping Tissue Paper
4. Ruler
5. Scissors
6. Invisible (Clear) Tape
7. Liquid Super Glue (Loctite Longneck is the best. It doesn't discolor)
8. Black Sharpie(touch up)
9. Red Sharpie(touch up)
10. Red Highlighter(touch up)
11. Blue Highlighter (touch up)
12. Yellow Highlighter (marking tissue paper measurements)
13. Attached PDF file (obviously you need the hat templates in the file)

Step 2: Print Hat

The attached PDF file has eight variations of the hat. They are all dimension-ally identical. Pick a hat and print it out. Remember, for best results, use 13"x19" (Super-B) ultra premium photo matte paper.

Step 3: Cut Hat

Use a good quality paper of scissors and carefully cut the two sides and back of the hat out of the printed paper. The paper is too thick to use a crafting knife and the shape is too irregular for a paper cutter. Scissors work fine as long as you have good lighting to stay close to the edges. It takes me about 10 minutes to cut out a hat.

Step 4: Fan Fold Hat Back

The back of the hat is designed to flex. A simple fan-fold allows the hat to fit snugly to the head. Pay close attention to the fan folds show in the picture.

Start by folding the back in half and repeating two more times. Unfold completely and begin refolding into an accordion. The printed side of the stabilizers needs to be on the outside of the accordion on both sides.

Step 5: Cut and Fold Tissue Paper

Cut out a 6"x10" section of tissue paper. Fold this section onto itself three times. Unfold and fan-fold accordion style so that the beginning and ending (sides) are both facing the same direction.

Step 6: Attach Tissue Paper

Arrange the hat filet style with the printed sides facing down. The picture here shows the front of both sides on the right hand side. Know your orientation before proceeding to avoid accidentally gluing the back of the hat to the front in later stages.

Begin by separating the sides approximately an inch. The sides should have their top facing each other. Try to align the tips to be roughly in the same location. You don't need to be exact.

Carefully, reveal one pleat of the tissue paper. You can see that in the picture, the side is place approximately in the middle of the hat with the first fold crease of the tissue paper intercepting the top edges of the hat. This gives the perfect amount of overlap. Place one small piece of tape to hold the tissue paper steady in this spot. Gently press the tissue paper and push it flat to either side and begin taping it securely in place. Repeat for the other half of the hat. Study the pictures before attempting.

Note, I have tried various other glues and found that tape is best for this step. You will not see the tape when the hat is complete.

Step 7: Attach Back

I find this step the most challenging. You could substitute stick glue but be warned that glue sticks have a high moisture content and will warp your paper. I prefer crazy glue and specifically Loctite brand. The set time is just a second or two so your placement needs to be exact. I've ruined a few hats by gluing my finger tips to the printed side and ripping color away. You need to be very careful.

Start by spreading apart the two halves of the hat as far as the tissue paper will allow. We want to keep the tissue paper out of harms way while we work with glue. Lay out a few pieces of scrap paper underneath one side of the hat. I recommend you begin with the side closest to you so that you can avoid accidental contact with the other side while working with the glue.

Run a solid line of the liquid crazy glue down the entire back length of the side of the hat. Place only enough glue for the bottom to make a bond. Place enough glue at the top of the hat to reach all the way to the tissue paper.

Carefully place the back of the hat down into the liquid crazy glue. You will need to line up the bottom corner of the hat and the top of the hat while floating the back just above it. Make sure you have good light. You'll only get one chance to place it into position. It will likely bond instantly since the paper fibers absorb the liquid and create an enormous amount of surface area for the chemical reaction to occur. I like to lift the hat off the scrap paper in the same step so that I can avoid any excess glue adhering to the scrap paper, desk, or my fingers. This is the hardest part of the project.

Phew. Now that the hard part is done, we can attach the opposite side. This is easier if you lay down the glue and place your fingers in the pleat just below the glue. This way you can press the pleats down flat while staying out of the glue. Use your other hand to carefully life the opposite side of the hat up and over and onto the glue. If you take your time, you can avoid getting the tissue paper into the glue.

Step 8: Attach Front

Raise the hat on edge and spread the front halves apart. With the hat resting above the scrap paper, lay down a line of glue from top to bottom. Like the back of the hat, you'll have more glue at the top to join up to the point of the tissue paper. Do not put down too much glue since it will drip down the sides and bond the hat in the wrong places. I like to slowly bring the hat together starting from the top.

Step 9: Secure Fan-Fold

The back of the hat fan-fold is the last major step. The top of the fan-fold is secured while the bottom is allowed to expand and contract. To secure the fan-fold of the back, put a little bit of crazy glue on the inside pleats and press together. After the inside pleats are bonded, repeat this for the outside pleats. Remember, this is just the top of the pleats. Study the pictures. You will see that the pleats are not glued below the color demarcation.

Step 10: Touch Up

After everything is dry, you'll start to notice that the hat may need minor touch up. Common problems include misaligned halves and contrasting whites against printed colors. These are easy to correct.

More often than not, I use a pair of scissor to even out a few minor misalignment problems. If your not sure, just leave it be. You could and likely will make things worse by trying to correct it.

For white contrast problems, I use sharpies. The picture shows the leading of this red and black hat after touch up. I used my pinky finger to press against the side of the hat while letting the sharpie ride only the edge of the hat and not the sides of the hat.

That's it. Go ahead. Wear your hat. ;-)