Born and raised: Brands and chains founded in Wichita

Hiland Dairy

Starting back in 1882, Nicholas Steffen started selling ice cream at his bakery and restaurant. Ice cream was originally only sold on Saturdays and holidays, but popularity grew. Steffen changed the name from Steffen’s Bakery and Restaurant to Bon Ton Bakery and Restaurant in 1885. By 1990, Steffen’s company was shipping more than 20,000 gallons of ice cream to Wichita communities. Steffen’s company constructed a milk processing plant in 1931, which is still in use today. 

Steffen’s products were purchased by Hiland in 1991, with the family name on the Hiland label until 1993. Hiland Dairy currently produces dairy products from milk to cottage cheese, with Hiland Wichita producing more than 1,350,000 gallons of product a month.

  • Steffen was the first American to ship ice cream commercially
  • Steffen created cartons with wire handles to transport ice cream home

White Castle

Upton Sinclair’s 1906 book “The Jungle” highlighted the poor conditions of the meat packing industry, leading many consumers to be skeptical. In 1921, Walter Anderson, who had been selling burgers out of a car since 1916, partnered with E. W. Ingram to challenge this skepticism and create White Castle. 

White Castle incorporated white and stainless steel designs to create a theme of cleanliness. By 1931, 10 years after the initial opening, White Castle had expanded to include more than 100 restaurants in 11 states. Wichita’s last White Castle closed in 1938. Currently, the closest White Castle is in Colombia, MO.

  • Known for being the first American fast food chain
  • No longer has a Wichita location

Pizza Hut

In 1958, a mother gave brothers Dan and Frank Carney $600 (worth a bit more than $6,000 today) to start a pizza place. It was named Pizza Hut because the original location (which can be found as the Pizza Hut Museum on campus) was shaped like a hut and their sign only had room for eight letters. 

65 years later, the name has stuck, even as sign limitations have lessened. The Pizza Hut location in Aggieville, a district in Manhattan, KS, was the first to offer delivery. Pizza Hut now has more than 16,000 locations in more than 100 countries and has been the first for many milestones in the food industry.

  • Named #1 pizza chain in the world (by sales and number of locations) by 1971, only 13 years after opening
  • First national chain to offer pizza delivery by 1994
  • First chain to offer stuffed crust in 1995, pioneered by food scientist Patty Scheibmeir
  • First pizza company to deliver to space in 2001
  • First to deliver to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2016


Brothers Bill and Randy Simon founded Freddy’s in 2002 alongside their friend, Scott Redler. The brothers named the franchise after their father. Freddy Simon himself grew up on a farm in Colwich, about 15 minutes out from where the first Freddy’s restaurant opened on 21st St. Freddy joined the military after high school, where he was dispatched in the Pacific Rim during WWII. He was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries and a Bronze Star for valor. 

After serving, Freddy returned to Kansas and raised six kids with his wife, Norma Jean. He believed himself to be “the luckiest man in the world.” The franchise values Freddy Simon’s hard-work and family values while maintaining a 1940s and ‘50s aesthetic. 

  • One of the fastest growing American franchises (ranked #8)