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Burger Family

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by A&W Root Beer

Image: A&W Burgery Family Creation: 2004
Medium: Fiberglass Sculptures
Discipline: Advertising Icons
Dimensions: 17’ x 8.5’ x 10’
Location: Shute Park Aquatic & Recreation Center
953 SE Maple, Hillsboro, OR
Exhibition: Permanent

The Burger Family is a unique remnant of the drive-in restaurant culture from the 50s and 60s. They are among the few that survive today across the country, and they were designated as a Cultural Resource in 1983 by the Hillsboro Planning Commission.

For many people, the statues are a landmark along the Tualatin Valley Highway, and bring back childhood memories of simpler times. The statues became public property when donated to the City in 1990.

The Burger Family was originally purchased in the late 1950s for the A&W restaurant owned by Forrest Conyers and located at 1319 SE TV Hwy (SE TV Hwy & 13th Ave), currently a used car lot. The Burger Family figures are constructed of painted fiberglass and represented various burgers and root beer menu items: Papa Burger, Mama Burger, Teen Burger and Baby Burger.

In 1984, following the close of the A&W restaurant, the Mama and Baby figures were removed, and the Papa figure was repainted and relocated near the restaurant building. In 1986, all three figures were reunited andImage: A&W Burgery Family relocated to the Papa Aldo's restaurant on 10th Avenue and repainted. They had a career change, and promoted pizzas as a new paint job converted their hamburgers into giant pizzas piled high with sausage, onions and olives. The root beer was changed to look like Coca Cola. Their clothes changed colors to have an Italian flair; Papa had a checkerboard tie added and Mama wore a striped cooking smock—more in keeping with a pizza restaurant.

In the 1970s the Teen Boy disappeared. It turned out he was stolen by high school pranksters and was damaged. For years he was absent from the family. When the family was given a new home at SHARC, a Teen Boy figure was located, restored and completed the family.

In 2008, a visitor tried to sit on top of the hamburger Baby Burger was holding, causing a serious break. She was removed to another site to convalesce for about a year. Her disappearance caused worried citizens to place a flurry calls to Hillsboro Parks & Recreation. It was reminiscent of an Amber Alert, giving Baby Burger her name: Amber.