How Can They Call It Health Camp?

Health Camp_Super Burgers Since 1949 by Jann Alexander © 2013

Health Camp Super Burgers Since 1949 by Jann Alexander © 2013


Call it Road Kill, because the large milkshakes at Health Camp really could kill you, if you’re on the road from Austin, Texas to Dallas on I-35.

A stop at Health Camp is a long tradition (since 1949) if you’re time-traveling along the central Texas interstate and find yourself nearing the Waco circle, as many do regularly enough to choke a Longhorn. Super Burgers are what’s prominently advertised at Health Camp, but those in the know order a chocolate-peanut butter milkshake (or one of more than a dozen other hand-crafted shakes) to slurp, with great effort,  through straws all the way from Waco to Waxahatchie. You can wait outside at the walk-up windows, or wait inside and try to score one of very few tables, but either way, you’re going to wait, and you’re going to be glad you did.


How did Health Camp get such an undeserving name? Its menu features the Super Health Burger (double meat and double cheese, special sauce, lettuce and tomato—sound like a Big Mac?) and its most popular burger comes with Tater Tots (Tater Tots? When was the last time you could order Tater Tots? And why would you?).

I’m speculating here, of course, but I can imagine a time when the menu seemed healthy. Specifically, in 1948, when young Jack Schaevitz built a mobile canteen and served ice cream and burgers to military personnel at Connally Air Force Base in Waco, just three years after World War II ended. These were soldiers who saluted to the almighty American hamburger and fries every chance they got.

Health Camp calls itself “a pioneer in the early fast food industry.” If only today’s fast food tasted this good. Especially the shakes. 

SHOP for 99+ printsfrom $45, in the Vanishing Austin photo series by Jann Alexander and the Endangered Species of Austin poster, $25, at VanishingAustin.com.


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8 replies

  1. I can attest the factual information about Health Camp, especially the shakes. But beware. If you order a large shake, better bring your own straw. Preferably one that is 2 inches in diameter or you will absolutely pass out from exhaustion while trying to get anything up the regular straws they give you. However, on the plus side the workout that you will get will probably offset the 14,000 calories these incredible shakes provide.

    And exactly what is a tater tot? I thought they were outlawed after the 70’s.

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  2. Whoa! Chocolate-peanut butter milkshakes? Tater tots? I’m putting this place on my Texas to-do list immediately! The name “Health Camp” conjured up images of a health spa… not this place. Maybe the name helps assuage one’s guilt for dining there. p.s. I had to use my hubby’s email to reply because your site claims my computer’s “not safe” when I tried to post via Twitter. Weird, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

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