If you were in Central Ohio in the 70s and early 80s, it would be hard to forget WCOL AM’s old-school talk-show host, Fred “Spook” Beckman. Spook’s unique, punchy, and often unscripted live delivery of commercials could drag a sponsor’s name anywhere, and often did. But his booming baritone and inimitable style sold product, so all was forgiven - usually.
In 1982, White Castle’s marketing manager commissioned friend of HOMAGE, Ron Kaplan, to create a new T-shirt slogan and design for the brand. Kaplan, ever the opportunist, stopped by Spook’s East Broad Street window-front studio (called the “Bumper Room”) and requested his blessing to borrow from his live White Castle commercial rant, specifically Spook’s own tagline and one of Kaplan’s faves, “White Castle hamburgers – They’re a legend between the buns!”
Spook, an early and avid supporter of the young T-Shirt entrepreneur, was flattered and happy to help Kaplan. But the suits at White Castle HQ, not quite as flattered, nixed the slogan for the new T-Shirts. However, in a grudging nod to good marketing when they saw it, they approved Kaplan’s alternate take - “A Legend In A Bun” – launching a design that went on to earn cult status among White Castle fans worldwide, and even earning the artwork a brief appearance in the big screen classic, “Revenge of the Nerds II.” Of course it may have helped that the Gold Circle department store chain offered a cross-promotion that gave customers two free sliders with the purchase of every T-Shirt.
Produced with permission from White Castle & Ron Kaplan. Each tee comes inside special packaging along with a coupon for a free slider.