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Every day in history is like a snowflake from heaven’s snowflake garden. It’s unique and it is fragile. Put it in your brain before it melts. This is what happened on September 4, 476…

On September 4, 476, the western half of the Roman Empire was no longer Roman. Lots and lots of years of lawmaking, road building, and land conquering down the aqueduct drain. The German mercenary Odoacer pulled off a successful mutiny and (his actual ethnicity was not known, however, he wasn’t considered Roman so history deems him German) defeated the last emperor’s, Romulus Augustus’, forces and became King of Italy.

Steak 'n Shake would do much better business if they had this Odoacer statue in front of every location...

That was it. The Empire had already split into East and West (the East becoming the Byzantium Empire), instead of what was once most of Western Europe, Odoacer got what is pretty much present-day Italy and Albania. The Roman Empire had been picked apart by German tribes such as the Vandals and Visigoths. On paper, it sounds like Odoacer was taking over a Fortune 500 Company. Instead, he took over operations for what turned out to be a Steak ‘n Shake in lower Ohio. Sure, Odoacer made a profit. However it was not glamorous and it is easy to imagine that the Steak ‘n Shake smell was difficult to get out of his clothes.  

In summary, Odoacer won some battles. The Byzantines didn’t like all the winning. They convinced some Germanic tribes to invade Italy.  Odoacer was defeated and then killed at a dinner in his own palace in 493. To this day there is no Roman Empire or Steak ‘n Shake franchises in Europe.