The Best Raspberry Butter

branding communication cooking marketing May 16, 2024

It was the summer of 1949 and Irv Maddox had just made the biggest mistake of his life.

At least, that’s what everyone else thought.

Irv and his wife Wilma lived in the sleepy farming town of Brigham City, Utah and two years before had recently opened up a small cafe called “The Double-J” 25 miles to the south in Ogden. However, the 50 mile round trip commute on uneven roads was getting to be tiring.

What if we could have a restaurant much closer? He wondered.

That’s when his eyes saw a plot of land- right on the highway- in Perry, Utah.

Now for the geographically curious among you, Perry, Utah could be described by the precise academic term: “The Middle of Nowhere.” Clinging to a narrow strip of land hemmed in by the Great Salt Lake to the west and the Wasatch mountains erupting skyward to the east, this outpost of civilization (population 449 in 1950) didn’t even have a stop sign to it’s name.

But for some reason, Irv saw greatness, and bought a forlorn patch of ground along a dusty highway. Building a log cabin onsite, he installed a rudimentary kitchen and began serving fried chicken to customers occupying 7 stools… their “at capacity” limit in those days. However despite his irrepressible optimism, Irv cautiously kept his options open: the small restaurant stood entirely on skids so it could be towed away and restarted elsewhere in case things, “just didn’t work out.”

(Perry, UT: Where rocks and gorgeous views outnumber humans a bajillion to 1…)

But the doubters had overlooked one thing: Wilma. While Irv manned the kitchen, Wilma charmed the rotating door of patrons with characteristic grace and warmth. Together, they developed their motto: “The Best is None Too Good” and gave their customers an unforgettable experience. Soon demand outgrew their log cabin, and more rooms were added over time. In 1962, they installed their famous rotating sign with a four pronged crown. When asked what it meant, Irv responded that he wanted the reputation of their food “to extend to the four corners of the earth.”

That’s some mighty big talkin from “The Middle of Nowhere.”

Today, Maddox’s ranch house is a Utah institution. Sitting on a sprawling 8 acre campus the 10,000+ square foot restaurant boasts a capacity of nearly 500 seats. Handling crowds that snake out the door, Irv and Wilma’s (updated) kitchen regularly serves 15,000 customers each week. To put that in perspective, this single restaurant could seat 9% of Perry, Utah’s population of 5,500 at any given time.

To borrow from Winston Churchill, “Never was so much fed, to so many, by so few.” And the original skids are still there, just in case things don’t work out.

What does this have to do with influence?

I’ve heard it said that “success leaves clues” and I feel the Maddox ranch house story is rich with lessons. Especially when it comes to creating an unforgettable experience and influencing people with your branding.

As a disclaimer: I did not grow up in the Mountain West corridor of Idaho, Utah, and Arizona, but I have many relatives that did. And growing up, as they told stories, they never failed to mention, “Oh and remember how we would always stop by at Maddox’s?”

“Of course! Maddox’s was the absolute best!”

“Those rolls were divine- and that raspberry butter? Always hit the spot!”

As a kid growing up in the urban sprawl of Los Angeles, I was raised to believe that if you had a pulse, and were traveling ANYWHERE through the Western Region of these United States, stopping at Maddox’s for lunch was “just what people do”. And I can confirm, their raspberry butter is a schedule 1 controlled substance that needs aggressive monitoring by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Like Pavlov’s dogs, Irv and Wilma programmed millions of people to respond to the simple equation:

“IF you are traveling in this area THEN you must go here for an incredible experience. Or… If you KNOW anyone traveling through, the ONLY DECENT human thing to do is to TELL others about it.”

When people think about your service- or the problem you solve for others- does the equation ring true for you? Imagine your former clients speaking to a close friend:

“IF you are experiencing this problem THEN you must call (INSERT YOU/BUSINESS NAME). Because if I didn’t pass their info along, then I would be FAILING you as a friend. Recommending them is the ONLY DECENT human thing to do. They are THAT good.”

When we deliver our service to others in such a way where they tell every passing man, woman, child, and fence post… then who knows? Maybe in 75 years, they will still be telling stories about you.

If you want to make your brand, your team, or your service… unforgettable… reach out to [email protected]. I’d love to share some additional insights that will get you started. And maybe I’ll even see you next time at Maddox’s.

And did I mention the raspberry butter?

Christian

CHRISTIAN HANSEN has gone behind the scenes in some of the biggest organizations in the world to find out the reasons why some people get chosen and why others don’t. As the #1 bestselling and LinkedIn Top Ten ranked author of “The Influence Mindset: The Art & Science of Getting People to Choose You” Christian helps teams and organizations who want increase their earning potential by standing out from the crowd and influencing people to choose them. With degrees from Brigham Young University and The London School of Economics, he’s helped thousands of individuals position and sell themselves. A fan of international communication, history, and choral music, he currently lives in Utah with his wife. Reach him at: TheChristianHansen.com

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