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When Sam Battistone and Newell F. Bohnett decided to open a restaurant in Santa Monica in 1957, they just combined Sam’s first name with Bohnett’s last name, and Sambo’s it was. Little did they realize just how many people would take offense at the assumed connection to the children’s book Little Black Sambo, especially after the restaurants were decorated with scenes from the book. Regardless of the association, the restaurant was a huge success and there were 1,117 locations in operation at its peak in the early 1980s. The company’s finances began to crumble just as it became a lightning rod for its insensitive name, and its collapse was epic. In 1983 618 locations were renamed Season's Friendly Eating, and soon after some were sold to Denny’s and the rest simply shut down. Today there’s only one Sambo’s still around, in Santa Barbara, Calif.

(Credit: flickr/ Thomas Hawk)
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