The correct definition of the Arctic Circle is the northernmost latitude that features direct sunlight at sea level in every 24 hour period within a year. In other words, a point on the Arctic Circle has a sunrise and sunset every day of the year, but just barely on the solstices. It lies at 66 degrees 30 minutes of north latitude.

As one travels away from the Equator, the difference in the amount of daylight between the Winter and Summer solsitces becomes greater. North of the Arctic Circle, there is at least one day where the sun doesn't set at all, and at least one day when it doesn't rise, and by the time one reaches the pole, the sun only rises and sets once a year, a perversely prolonged solstice.

I have been to the Arctic Circle along the Dalton Highway in Alaska. At that point it is slightly above the tree line and passes through the marshy taiga. However, around the world the Circle passes through a variety of climates and terrains. In Greenland and the islands of eastern Arctic Canada, it is well above the tree line and passes through tundra. In western Canada it is below the tree line in places and can actually lie within forest. In Siberia and the Scandanavian countries it passes through both forrested terrain and taiga.

As a constant, winters at the Arctic Circle are ridiculously cold, and summers are brief and can be warm or even hot in certain places like Siberia and Alaska.

Founded in 1950 in Salt Lake City, Utah, Arctic Circle Restaurants, Inc. is a chain of fast food restaurants with 83 outlets in 8 western states, serving burgers, sandwiches, fries, ice cream products, and other fast-food fare. Arctic Circle was the first fast food chain to offer kids' meals. Recently Arctic Circle restaurants began serving Black Angus burgers exclusively, in a marketing move designed to associate Arctic Circle with a higher level of quality than had previously been associated with the Utah-based chain.

The roots of Arctic Circle go back to 1924, when Don Carlos Edwards of Logan, Utah opened a refreshment stand to serve patrons of a local Pioneer Day celebration. The family business grew slowly but steadily and in 1950 the Edwards family opened its first Arctic Circle restaurant in Salt Lake City. Don J. Edwards, son of Don Carlos and founder of the AC chain, franchised both the Arctic Circle name and its products, notably the french fry sauce, dipped ice cream cones and Lime Squeezes. Edwards also manufactured the equipment installed in the restaurants.

In the late 1970's, Arctic Circle opened the Minit-Lube chain of lube and oil service franchises. Fast growth in this area of fast service attracted the attention of oil industry giant Quaker State Oil, which purchases Arctic Circle Restaurants in 1985. A few years later two former officers and shareholders formed a partnership with restaurant management to purchase back the fast food arm of Arctic Circle. Subsequent restaurant growth was focused in the Utah and Idaho area.

In 1997 the company’s re-directed its marketing focus to target children, adding 750 to 1,000 square foot, two story, indoor Kids PlayZones. In a market with more children per-capita than any other in the nation, this was successful move, resulting in dramatic sales increases in stores with the new PlayZones. In its 26 company-owned stores (the remainder being franchises), Arctic Circle is updating its interiors and kitchens, aimed at improving the customer experience and turnaround time.

Although it does not have the high profile of McDonald's or Burger King, Arctic Circle nonetheless is focused on community involvement. As part of its community activities, Arctic Circle:

  • has raised money for the Utah March of Dimes
  • is a sponsor for the Utah Winter Games
  • co-sponsors a program honoring charitable individuals, inspired by the CBS television show "Touched by an Angel"
  • partners with local PTAs, providing ice-cream treats for school events
  • sponsors Utah Special Olympics Camp in conjunction with the Nike Utah Golf Tour<
  • co-sponsors the Junior Jazz summer recreational basketball program in conjunction with the Utah Jazz, an NBA basketball team

We had an Arctic Circle in my hometown when I was growing up, but it is there no longer. We used to call it "Acey Greasey" and "Arsenic Circle". It wasn't as good as the Dairy Queen.

Source: Arctic Circle Restaurants, Inc., www.arcticcirclerest.com

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