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Sunday, December 27, 2009


Posted By on Sun, Dec 27, 2009 at 11:42 PM

Sambos advertisement - 1977
  • Sambo's advertisement - 1977
With its racial overtones and the rather demeaning name of the main character, the children's book Little Black Sambo isn't very easy to find these days.

That's what makes it so hard to believe that, in the 1970s, Memphis had not just one, but three, restaurants in town called Sambo's, which used the jungle and animal imagery from the book as their decorating theme. As you can see from this ad, which I scanned from the back cover of a 1977 Duration Club program, you could take your pick from the Sambo's on Winchester, Summer, or Poplar.

What's interested, too, is that this particular ad didn't feature the little African child as the restaurant's "mascot" but instead the tiger, which — if I remember correctly — was turned into butter when Little Sambo made him run faster and faster around the tree where ... oh, you'll just have to read the book.

All the Sambo's restaurants in Memphis are gone now, in case you were wondering. And, despite the ad, I really doubt if everyone who dined there got balloons.



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