Visit the living Internet museum that is Braums.com…

I have a weird love/hate relationship with Braum’s.

On one hand, I can’t stand the place. The food isn’t that great.  The stores are rarely clean. And the service…well, let’s just say there’s a reason I’ll keep on driving if I see more than three cars parked in the drive thru.

That being said, I still find myself at Braum’s — whether it’s buying milk or ordering a hamburger for lunch — way more than I should.  And I think the reason why is pretty simple.  It’s just something you do.

You see, when I was a poor kid living in Southeast Oklahoma City, my Dad would walk my little brother and I to the Braum’s near SEth 32nd and Shields for lunch a couple of times each week. When my terrible 9th grade YMCA basketball team won our first game on a buzzer-beating FULL COURT shot — yes, FULL COURT shot— as time expired, we went to Braum’s to celebrate.  And when my 83-year-old grandfather and I make a wager on a football game, the stakes are usually lunch at Braum’s.

Anyway, I recently decided that it’s time to start counting calories and restart the never-ending quest to get back down to my playing weight.  To prepare, I figured I’d take a scary look into how many calories were in my usual Braum’s “entrée” (a 1/3 lb. cheeseburger with no pickles and ketchup instead of mayo).

So I went to Braums.com to look for nutritional info.  My life may never be the same.

Braums.com is unintentionally awesome and sad.  It looks like it was built by that lady who took an HTML class at Francis-Tuttle and then made a webpage for your church…in 2001.

When it opened in my browser earlier this week, the first thing I thought was “Where the hell do I find nutritional info?” The second thing was “Was this site made in Frontpage?” The third thing was “I need to write about this sometime.”

Then, just a few days later, I received this email from a loyal reader:

You guys are the best. I came across a link to download ie5, shockwave, and real player the other day (from the Braum’s website). Just thought I’d share it with you.

– B

Yeah, that email kind of weirded me out.  It also convinced me that I need to write about and analyze the Braum’s website for everyone.

First of all, Braums.com was first archived by Internet Archive Wayback Machine in 1999. Other than a slightly different main page — and a weird animated graphic — the layout and framework of the site hasn’t changed at all.  In 2001, the site took its current form (and they apparently closed their online store) and hasn’t really changed since.

If you think about it for a second, that’s pretty bizarre.  Back in 1999, Google wasn’t on the radar, Facebook didn’t exist, and most American’s accessed the internet through AOL. Hulu sounded like a Hawaiian excercise, something called Napster was beginning to make its way across college campuses and you still had to pay money to view online porn.  In all honesty, the Internet kind of sucked.

Yeah, the Internet has changed a bunch over the past 12 years.  You can share information with anyone, look up anything, watch movies online and make fun of the local media.  You would think the website of a fast food chain with over 200 locations would changed with it over the years.

Then again, this is Braum’s.  They still run commercials from the 1990s and were one of the last places on earth to not offer free refills.  I guess we shouldn’t be surprised then that their website is compatible with Web TV.  Hell, we should be happy that you don’t have to access Braum’s through an old BBS phone line.

Anyway, these are my five favorite things about Braums.com:

5.  The Help & Download Page

As our reader pointed out, the Braums.com Help and Download page links to such internet necessities as Internet Explore (And Netscape) 3.0, Shockwave and everyone’s favorite annoying media device, Real Player.  But…there is not a link to download Adobe Acrobat Reader.  That’s funny.

Also, check out some notes under “technical issues:”

“A processor speed of 120 Mhz or higher will produce adequate results.” Just to let you know, your Dad’s flip phone is more powerful than that.

“The site is best viewed in Internet Explorer 5.0.” That’s like saying television is best viewed with the little 17-inch RCA TV in your weird uncle’s garage.

• “Please contact webmaster@braums.com if you are having any technical problems. We want your visit to our site to be enjoyable.” Why do I envision the Braum’s “Webmaster” as some lonely 55-year old man who splits his time in the IT department and Braum’s dairy.  Someone needs to send him an email and see if he replies. If so, his reply will probably come from an AOL or Compuserve address.

4. The Braum’s Tour

First, please click the link above.  You’ll be greeted by one of the most awesomely bad flash…errr… shockwave animations ever.

And once you’re there, you’ll be able to download a 32mb, 12-minute video tour of Braum’s. Since we’re nice, we downloaded the video and put it on YouTube. By using the code on the YouTube page, the Braum’s webmaster can even embed it on Braum’s website like this:

Anyway, it’s a cute video.  It’s almost as cute as the Braum’s story and the way they put a drop shadow on all the images.

3. Desktop Wallpaper

Do you really like Braum’s?  And I mean really like Braum’s, as in you want to think about Braum’s all the time and especially when you’re on the computer.  Well, lucky for you Braum’s has your best interest in mind!  Check out these desktop images you can download for free! Images like…

Ice Cream and Fruit

I don’t know about you, but whenever my family had ice cream we’d put it on a black table and surround it with the finest fruits, nuts and Oreo cookies!

Ducks

Because who doesn’t think of Braum’s when you see a couple of mallards swimming around the pond.

Crudely Designed Cow Pop Art…

This one is my favorite, but only because I like cows with sunglasses. Isn’t that silly?!

2. The Braum’s Kid Zone

Hey, I admitted that one of the main reasons I still go to Braum’s is because I went there as a kid. Maybe that’s what the marketing geniuses at Braum’s were thinking when they created the Braum’s Kid Zone.  At this site you can:

Learn about Cows!

Make your own drawing using Braum’s Clip Art!

Print your own coloring book!

Anyway, all sarcasm and joking aside, if you ever see your kid on the Braum’s Kid Zone, be sure to punish them immediately.  Now, to my favorite part of the Braum’s website…

1. E-Postcards

I love these E-Postcards so much that I’m pretty sure we’re going to have to add them as a feature to our site.

Here’s a Braum’s E-Postcards that I sent to Jim Traber.  Here’s one that I sent to the Pioneer Woman.

If you feel like being a bit obnoxious today, please send a Braum’s E-Postcard to either Jim Traber at (mail@jimtraber.com) or the Braum’s Webmaster (webmaster@braums.com).  They’ll love it.

Anyway, those are my little thoughts on Braum’s and their website.  In all honesty, I hope Braum’s never updates their webpage.  They should just convert it to a living museum that shows what the internet used to be like. That way, all you 18-year old kids will understand how shitty the Internet used to be, and how awesome it is now.