Redskins in Heap Big Trouble

Indian Graphic  Milton Glaser 1967

Native American Graphic by Milton Glaser Cover Life Magazine December 1, 1967 Return of the Red Man

Many are on the warpath over the use of the offensive name Redskins.

The debate over the Washington football team Redskins name made national television this past week. Not only did South Park dedicate its season premier to skewering the name, but John Stewart aired a controversial segment pitting Redskin fans against Native Americans.

Those hoping for a powwow of sorts were disappointed when the Daily Show’s segment quickly turned into a tense situation.

Pale-Face Profits

When it comes to heap-big offensive names the NFL franchise isn’t the first franchising organization to utilize questionable Native American imagery in its merchandise.

Many moons ago, a company called Franchise International offered mid-century American go-getters  the opportunity to own a fast food restaurant of their own with the dubious name Heap Big Beef.


Return Of The Red Man

cover Life Magazine Indians 1967

“Hippies have re-discovered the Indian,” explains Life Magazine in this December 1. 1967 issue.” Viewing the dispossessed Indian as America’s original ‘dropout’ and convinced he has deeper spiritual values than the rest of society, hippies have taken to wearing his costume and honing in on his customs….Some claim to have found a precedent for the “be-in” in the Indian powwow. ..The hippies infatuation with the old ways of braves and squaws has not gone unappreciated by real Indians.”


In 1967  businessman William “Buffalo Bill” Brody had an eagle eye for opportunity.

According to Life Magazine,  the Red Man was red-hot.

At the same time that Native Americans were discovering their cultural history and  questioning their long heritage of violence, social disruption and neglect, Americans  fell in love with the noble Redskin.

Not only were headband-wearing, feather-donning, peace pipe smoking hippies re-discovering Indians – sporting a feather was believed to provide “good vibrations” during an LSD trip according to Life,- fashion designers were on the warpath producing all sorts of Indian garb for both braves and squaws.


Illustration fashion 1968

Back to school musts – Pocahontas head bands were in as were fringe benefits from leather. Vintage ad Fashion Under 21, 1968


“The hippies involvement with Indian ways has infected the non hippie world,” Life announced.

Heap Big Profits

So when an ad appeared in the magazine  offering the chance to own your own Indian themed restaurant, Bill  knew a heap big business opportunity when he saw it.


Indian Heap Big Beef Fast Food 68 SWScan10057

In 1967 Franchise International ran an ad for the franchising opportunity to own a Heap Big Fast Food the coast to coast chain of roast beef restaurants of your own. No tipping, no deciding ( kind of like how we treated the Indians) No waiting. Heap Big Beefs swift and courteous service make your dining stop a relaxing refresher for the entire family. And for mighty little wampum!


“He man profits can be yours – make plenty of wampum with the ownership of your own Heap Big Beef Restaurant.”

Like any red-blooded American, who could pass on the chance to be their own chief and make heap big wampum?

Not this pale-face!

The offer to own your own franchise was irresistible.

Happy Trails

From coast to coast all along Americas best trafficked trails,tepee-dwelling  suburbanite were flocking to this latest food franchise. Guaranteed to satisfy a savage appetite, folks were happy to shell out 59 cents for an Honest Injun taste of the old west “sliced hot right before your eyes.” The mouth-watering meal  washed down with a wholesome Shawness shake or genuine Indianaid could be enjoyed amidst “sparkling Indian décor. ”

The Indian themed restaurant didn’t offer Bison burgers but the heaping he-man sized roast beef sandwiches spelled he-man profits .

So chief, pack your squaw and her papoose in your Pontiac and head on over to Heap Big Beef !

Big Taste….  even bigger tastelessness.

All for little wampum!”



© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.




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