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Author Topic: " The Happy Cooker " The Truth  (Read 47713 times)

Idahawk

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" The Happy Cooker " The Truth
« on: May 22, 2013, 12:51:15 PM »
The Happy Cooker  company or Unarco Home Products as it was known was located in Paris Illinois in the 70's. their primary business was stainless steel kitchen items . They added a porcelain enamel  plant right next door in the late 70's and were looking to grow the business , when someone came up with the idea of a BBQ . They began to produce a kettle style porcelain enameled BBQ that looked very much like a weber , it was also more affordable and they managed to land a deal to supply Sears, which got Webers attention .Unarco was careful not to straight up just copy Weber , they changed the leg sockets , the lid , vent sizes and other small details but ultimately their design was to close to Webers and  a patent infringement lawsuit arose forcing them to cease production immediately . Naturally Weber won and my source seems to remember it was a case of The Happy Cooker being told to not do it again or Weber would if fact prosecute , Anarco agreed  and in the early 80' s Unarco relocated to Louisiana never to produce another BBQ . The old Anarco plant in Paris is a super fund cleanup site and many of the employees are gone or relocated to Louisiana when the company did leaving behind a grill with a short and checkered past as a copy cat .  My sources include the Paris chamber of commerce , the editor in chief of the Paris area newspaper for over 40 years as well as the current owners of Anarco which is the Franke Company. After 40 plus years memories are vague at best and some folks I spoke with still think that Weber was somehow involved with the Happy Cooker but that was never the case.

 As far as The Happy Cooker goes if you have one , well they only lasted a hand full of years my source wasn't sure of the dates only that it was late 70's and by the early 80's Anarco was gone. He said if you could find the date that they relocated you would find the final year or production , he did not know the first year of production exactly . For me it makes them a great part of a Weber collection because in fact Weber was involved , just not in the way many people thought . I for one ( sorry AJ ) will be hanging to on mine because its in such great condition and now has a story. I have an e- mail sent to the former VP of The Happy Cooker division which I hope can shed some light on dating these for future reference .

« Last Edit: May 22, 2013, 08:42:19 PM by Idahawk »
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Jeff

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Re: " The Happy Cooker " The Truth
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2013, 01:04:32 PM »
Interesting story Idahawk...answered lots of questions I "previously" had!

Thanks
Kettle collector AND cooker!

Jeff

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Re: " The Happy Cooker " The Truth
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2013, 01:22:26 PM »
Here's a brand new black on in the box still near the Detroit area.  Don't find these too often NIB.

http://detroit.craigslist.org/mcb/app/3815992465.html
Kettle collector AND cooker!

Idahawk

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" The Happy Cooker " The Truth
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2013, 01:26:48 PM »
Id be really interested in that .
« Last Edit: May 22, 2013, 01:36:48 PM by Idahawk »
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Mark Schnell

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Re: " The Happy Cooker " The Truth
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2013, 01:28:24 PM »
Great info. Does this mean that the Sears kettle wasn't made by Weber? Or did Weber start making the Sears version after Happy Cooker was out of the picture?

Idahawk

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" The Happy Cooker " The Truth
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2013, 01:33:42 PM »
You could be right , after Weber eliminated the competition they could have approached Sears with an economy grill , I'm hoping to speak with the VP I mentioned , I'll add that to the questions I have already .
« Last Edit: May 22, 2013, 01:36:18 PM by Idahawk »
Wanted plum/burgundy 18.5
WTB Color Copies of old Weber Catalogs

MacEggs

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Re: " The Happy Cooker " The Truth
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2013, 01:37:33 PM »
That's some interesting info!

My full sized UDS has a Happy Cooker domed lid on it. 1buckie sent it to me in 2011. All the way from California!  :D 8)
Q: How do you know something is bull$h!t?
A: When you are not allowed to question it.

pbe gummi bear

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Re: " The Happy Cooker " The Truth
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2013, 04:43:56 PM »
Interesting Detective work, Idahawk! They hold a place in the Weber saga as the original knock-off.
"Have you hugged your Weber today?"
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reillyranch

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Re: " The Happy Cooker " The Truth
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2013, 06:38:59 PM »
Could you ask your source about the one touch system.  I have had a suspicion that the Happy Cooker might have developed something like it before Weber.  I base that on an old Happy Cooker I have with a one touch system that seems to pre date Weber's introduction of the one touch.  Mind you, this is just wild speculation.  It would be interesting what sources close to the Happy Cooker might say. 

zavod44

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Re: " The Happy Cooker " The Truth
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2013, 06:49:09 PM »
The worst part of the Happy Hooker saga is how rare they are becoming because I give every one I find to the local scrapper, they just keep disappearing......
Vintage Weber Grill raconteur and bon vivant.....and definitely Sir Agent X

Idahawk

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" The Happy Cooker " The Truth
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2013, 07:56:09 PM »
The worst part of the Happy Hooker saga is how rare they are becoming because I give every one I find to the local scrapper, they just keep disappearing......

I suppose handles for mine are out of the question then.:)

Wanted plum/burgundy 18.5
WTB Color Copies of old Weber Catalogs

Idahawk

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" The Happy Cooker " The Truth
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2013, 07:58:54 PM »
Could you ask your source about the one touch system.  I have had a suspicion that the Happy Cooker might have developed something like it before Weber.  I base that on an old Happy Cooker I have with a one touch system that seems to pre date Weber's introduction of the one touch.  Mind you, this is just wild speculation.  It would be interesting what sources close to the Happy Cooker might say.

Do you have a photo ?
Wanted plum/burgundy 18.5
WTB Color Copies of old Weber Catalogs

reillyranch

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Re: " The Happy Cooker " The Truth
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2013, 08:10:10 PM »
I will take a couple and post.

Craig

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Re: " The Happy Cooker " The Truth
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2013, 08:24:36 PM »
The worst part of the Happy Hooker saga is how rare they are becoming because I give every one I find to the local scrapper, they just keep disappearing......

Happy Cookers are the wiseguys that disappeared after the Lufthansa Heist to your Bobby De Nero then....  8)

Heyjude

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Re: " The Happy Cooker " The Truth
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2013, 08:48:22 PM »
Ida,
You pretty much answered what I had suspected for a long time.
I believe the HC had some great traits to it. Sorry to those who think it belongs int he back of a scrap truck. Its part of history.. And unfortunately that sweet red one continues to elude me.  8)
I can;t wait to see what Reilly has in the way of a possible OT design from them.
My only regret si that I didn't know about these in 79.
 8)
And thanks to Ida for all his hard work with the research..
I don't care if you don't like my Avatar, its there for me..