“It’s an eye-catcher.”
That’s how Jammie Watson, Assistant Manager at the Arby’s location in the unincorporated Jefferson County community of Forestdale off Highway 78, describes one of Alabama’s most iconic roadside attractions — the Arby’s “tall hat” sign.
Ms. Watson told Bham Now the sign is the only one of its kind left in Alabama. And that sounds about right.
It definitely is one of the last Arby’s in the country. Earlier this year in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a 1960s vintage Arby’s sign was taken down to be placed in a museum.
1964 Arby’s logo
According to two “logo focused” websites called 1000logos.net and hatchwise.com, the Forestdale sign looks the same as the original Arby’s logo that was first used in 1964. The tall brown hat was changed to a smaller red hat design in 1969.
1000logos.net described the original design this way:
“What is the Arby’s logo supposed to mean? The hat shape didn’t have a deeper meaning but was used rather as an element of style – when the quick-service chain was established in 1964, westerns were extremely popular. So, it seemed like a good idea to use a cowboy hat design as the base for the logo.
The original logotype was introduced in 1964. Over the tall brown hat, the text “Arby’s Roast Beef Sandwich is Delicious” was placed. Its first part was given in blocky slab-serif letters, while the text “is Delicious” featured thin capital letters.”
Westerns were big in 1960s
The logo also premiered the same time the TV show Bonanza was the top rated show between 1964 to 1967. In fact, one could say the Arby’s-like hat was modeled after the one worn by “Hoss” , the western’s most beloved character.
Birmingham Roadside Attraction
Back to Forestdale, Alabama — Ms Watson is very proud of her store’s sign which towers over the modern Arby’s location at 996 Forestdale Boulevard, 35214.
“I like the hat because it is the only one,” she said. “It’s like old country style. It’s pretty. It will catch your eye coming down old 78. I believe that’s how we get our customers.”
Most likely over 50 years old, the sign is a Birmingham original. Tell us what you think of this classic roadside attraction on social media by tagging us at @bhamnow