… in the late 1940’s, “Park & Eat” was as common a sight as “Drive Thru” is today and could not be copyrighted.
In a brainstorm, Hatch and company decided to reverse it — to Eat’n Park. The catchy name stuck, so much that while the once everywhere “Park & Eat” signs have virtually disappeared from American highways, “Eat’n Park” remains a tri-state tradition…
– Eat’n Park website.
Way back in the early 1990’s, my wife, son, and I lived for a spell in Pennsylvania, about a half hour south of Pittsburgh. It was there that we were introduced to the Eat’n Park restaurant chain.
And it was then that my pondering on that curious name first began.
(Wait a minute; did you just roll your eyes!)
While smack dab in the middle of writing another post, my thoughts inexplicably jumped to Eat’n Park, and I knew something was up… So here I am, having abandoned that other post to relate my new found insight into that innocuous though curious branding…
That Eat’n Park name is pure genius.
But it’s just not logical! I’m mean, honestly! Eat, then park? They can’t be subconsciously referencing raging teenage hormones after a dinner date, can they?
No no no. Most assuredly no. Not-even-in-the-slightest no.
Then how can we explain such a decidedly illogical naming of a business enterprise?
I thought I’d find my answer after a little research. But even after I learned that the genesis of the Eat’n Park restaurant was as a drive-in with carhops; even then, you park first, then you eat … good gosh!
“Eat and park” is just not logical.
But it is very much psychological.
(Stop that rolling your eyes business! And, no; my work-life stress hasn’t pushed me over the edge …)
Look; say you’re driving down the street, taking in all the road signs that are the quintessential landmarks of unbridled capitalism (and while driving you are not good for you! submersed in your device-of-choice, talking or texting or game-playing) and you see “park and eat” and you immediately think “I don’t want to pull off and park” and on you go.
A couple of blocks later, though, you see Eat’n Park and you realize I’m hungry! Time to eat! Let’s get eat’n! We need to park! Park over there! To eat!
What’s more important? Parking? Or Eating?
Both are actions; both evoke images in our brains … but what produces the more compelling image and the more exciting associated feeling?
No contest, really; wouldn’t you agree?
Furthermore; how many people in the car care about parking? (Answer: Just one, the driver.)
How many people care about eat’n?
So, while one action logically precedes the other …
parking >>> eating
… isn’t it interesting that the mental process that provokes the action is exactly the opposite? …
mmm; hey, I’m hungry! … park over there and let’s eat!
And so simple, you just have to smile, don’t you!
We’ll leave the pondering of the process that resulted in that flash of genius to another post.
Because, now, I need to park myself in the kitchen … and get to eat’n.
But if I were in Pennsylvania, I’d park and eat at that place for smiles …
(And, yes, I see you grinning like an Eat’n Park smiley cookie …)
Completely agree with your assessment of why Eat ‘n Park has stuck.
I went to college in Pittsburgh and remember hearing about this place that students would go to (if they could borrow someone’s car to get there). But my pondering about the name was a completely different sort. I never saw it spelled out before I went there, so for at least a semester, I thought it was “Eaton Park.” I imagined it was so named for some picturesque setting–perhaps itself named for a beloved community supporter–and likely had cheesy oil paintings of the park all around.
When I finally did get to go and saw the sign, I exclaimed to the bewilderment of the others in the car, “Ohhh…EAT and PARK!”
Naturally, I spent most of the meal wondering why it wasn’t named the opposite, but ultimately decided that Eat’nPark was catchier, and since eating was the primary objective after all, it was appropriate.
Plus, if it was named the opposite, and someone only ever HEARD the name, “Parkonete” definitely did NOT sound like a good place to dine!
John M. Greco said:
Stephen, that is too funny! Ha!