The hunt for Burger Chef and Jeff’s Monster Records
The hunt for Burger Chef and Jeff’s Monster Fun Records
Green Bay record collector snags Halloween ephemera, one oddity at a time
By John McCracken
Kusel Lake is a small, freshwater lake due southwest of Green Bay by about 76 miles. The lake is home to largemouth bass, northern pike and Roger Daume’s rural Wisconsin cottage. Until a few weeks ago, the cottage was home to pieces of Midwest fast-food chain history. Daume recently listed a collection of 1970s Halloween-themed records released by Burger Chef, a former Indianapolis-founded fast-food chain, to Craigslist.
The Monster Fun Records are a set of six records. The collection was printed in 1977 by Eva-Tone Soundsheets—a production company founded in 1962 in Deerfield, Illinois, relocated to Clearwater, Florida in 1972 and went bankrupt in 2008.
The flexi-discs (think small, thin records used as promotional items) features songs such as “Fangburger’s Haunted Hotel,” “The Ghost of Grizzly Mountain,” “Wolfburger’s Problem,” “Transylvania’s Big Game” and “Cackelburger Casts a Spell.”
Smatterings of these fast-food-Halloween-themed records can be found in random corners of the internet, but a complete, pristine set is a bit harder to come by. The unique nature and limited quantity of the records are qualities that grab the attention of record collectors of all backgrounds.
Monster Fun comes to Wisconsin
Daume doesn’t really collect records. Instead, he said he got his set of Burger Chef and Jeff’s Monster Fun Records when he worked for the franchise.
Daume is a renaissance man with decades of aviation, used car sales, radio hosting, fast food general management and bank teller experience under his belt. He moved to Wisconsin in the 1980s to work in the Milwaukee area and has since retired (he said he’s retired three times due to his audacious nature) to lake life nestled between the village of Wild Rose and the town of Saxeville.
Daume was 19 when he became the manager of a Kokomo, Indiana (a city roughly half the size of Green Bay) Burger Chef in 1971. He said it happened by accident as he was new in town, stopped in for burgers, his order was messed up and the manager there ended up offering him a job.
In the years to follow, Daume got a taste for national success.
“Our store had the second-highest volume in the U.S. from what I recall,” Daume said. “The only one that did more volume was one in downtown Manhattan.”
Roger Daume has an eclectic catalog of job titles, job experiences and life stories that have led him to rural Wisconsin.
John McCracken photo
His time at Burger Chef was a launching pad for his lifelong sales career.
“They ended up building another one in Kokomo,” Daume said, “so at one point I ran both of them at the same time.”
Despite the kid-friendly Halloween promotions and the nostalgic joy associated with fast-food restaurants, Burger Chef has an unfortunate, dark history.
In November of 1978, four young Burger Chef employees were murdered at a Speedway, Indiana location. A 2014 report from local Speedway TV station WTHR found that investigators believe the murderer to be now deceased and a lack of physical evidence was available to prosecute. In 2018, the city of Speedway dedicated four trees for each victim of the tragedy—Jayne Friedt, Ruth Ellen Shelton, Mark Flemmonds, and Daniel Davis.
Daume said he was familiar with this tragedy and it was something that stuck in the mind of all Burger Chef employees, past and present.
After some time, Daume said he got sick of the typical toils of the restaurant industry (long hours and little weekends) and moved on to his next adventure. Burger Chef was sold to General Mills in 1996 and many of the locations eventually became Hardee’s.
‘I had to have it’
Green Bay records and other odds and ends collector Pierre Jacque was immediately drawn to the unusual records and with the Halloween season approaching, he knew he had to have them.
Jacque, a Green Bay native, collects anything and everything. (Yes, this is the same Jacque that is the brother of State Senator André Jacque. No, we did not talk about his brother’s politics nor his recent, public bout with COVID-19.)
Roger Daume (left) recently listed a collection of odd, Halloween-themed records to Craigslist. Green Bay records collector Pierre Jacque (left) took a trip from Green Bay to Kusel lake to grab the odd items.
John McCracken photo
He said he collects records, VHS tapes (a lot of them), old film and TV posters and paraphernalia, figurines and so much more.
“People just bring me things sometimes,” Jacque said, “‘like this is a weird thing and we thought that maybe you would want this.’”
His VHS collection is full of old-school horror movies and cult classics. He said he has a soft spot for anything scary and supernatural.
“Halloween’s just always been my favorite holiday,” Jacque said.
As a Green Bay Exclusive Company record store employee and infrequent music booker, he has a proclivity for collecting records and other musical oddities. This time of year, one item in his collection stands out. Jacque said a favorite of his is a four-album collection of famed horror icon Vincent Price reading Best Western hotel chain advertisements.
As odd as it sounds, this record does exist and is very rare. The album was produced by Blanc Communications Corp., a production outfit owned by Mel Blanc. (Yes, the man who voiced the majority of Looney Tunes characters). The record was created with help from the Best Western Motel franchise and is a unique part of radio and Americana history.
It’s oddities like that that keep Jacque scouring Craigslist, other online platforms, and in-person crate-digging and thrift stores for his next big find. Jacque said he has been collecting his whole life. He said his collection reached a notable size by 2014, but a large portion of his collection was wiped out due to flooding in Green Bay.
Since then, he’s only doubled down on collecting the strange.
“We (Jacque and his pet skunk Odin) just rebuilt bigger, better and weirder from there,” Jacque said.
Jacque said he was ecstatic to get the Monster Fun Records and his only plan was to listen to them, potentially convert them to digital and shelf them alongside the rest of his collection. With a new set of off 1970’s fast-food chain flex-discs in tow, Jacque is likely one of the few people in the area who own such an odd piece of Halloween history.
Pierre Jacque has an eclectic catalog of VHS horror films, pop-culture oddities, film promotional items and more that he’s been collecting his whole life.
John McCracken photo
Inside Jacque’s home, surrounded by collectibles, listening to a decades-old, cartoonish, vampire voiceover talk about hamburgers, it became clear how the appeal of collecting strange offshoots associated with Halloween, fast-food culture and other Americana is so strong.
Despise the long journey it took to get these records in Jacque’s hands, he doesn’t overthink his collection process. To him, the formula is quite simple.
“It was a spooky record,” Jacque said. “I collect spooky things. I had to have it.”
John McCracken is the Editor of Green Bay City Pages. He can be reached via email at [email protected]