Hamburger Harry Sperl is one of Daytona Beach's more eccentric residents. During Bike Week, Daytona's annual motorcycle rally, you can find him riding down Main Street in his custom-made Hamburger Harley. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. His 2,500 square foot home, a few blocks from the ocean, is a shrine to all things hamburger related: Big Boy statues, pieces of McDonald's playgrounds, hamburger light fixtures, hamburger toys, hamburger posters, a hamburger water bed. He even owns the blue AMC Pacer used as a delivery car in the movie Good Burger. He bought it from a private seller over a decade ago for $1,000, with the intention to restore it, but today it sits under a tarp, rotting away in the Florida weather.
Sperl has been building this collection for the past 29 years. The Guinness Book of World Records cataloged Harry's collection as having 3,724 pieces of hamburger memorabilia, earning him the record for owning the most hamburger-related items. Even with that number, though, Sperl told me the people from Guinness missed roughly 6,000 thousand items in storage.
This all started around 1987. Sperl, who trades novelties, collectibles, and souvenirs as a full-time job, was setting up a photo for the sale of a 1950s car-hop tray. So he purchased a toy soda, fries, and five hamburgers. The hamburgers ended up on his office desk. "A friend stops by and looks at the hamburgers and says, 'You are nuts, are you collecting hamburgers?'" Sperl told me. He had simply replied, "No, but maybe I should." And that was it.
In his first year of collecting, he says he accumulated 92 different hamburger items. At first, it was mostly small things—hamburger salt-and-pepper shakers, hamburger candles, hamburger dog toys, hamburger cookie jars. He would scour yard sales, flea markets, and anywhere else he could find hamburger-related items for his collection. When eBay came along, he started using the internet to amass much of what makes up his collection today.