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Ask Chicagoist: Who's the Empire Carpet Guy?

By Thales Exoo in Miscellaneous on Apr 13, 2006 3:10PM

Who is the Empire Carpet man and how long has he been the spokesperson? Also? Who wrote that intoxicatingly catchy jingle?

Chicagoist wanted to find out the answer to this question -- today -- but we just couldn't find a phone number for Empire. Does anyone know it?

Of course you do. If you live in Chicago and have ever been anywhere near a television, you know the Empire Carpet jingle. It was even covered by Pearl Jam at a Chicago show in 1994. If you're like us, you sing "eight-hundred five-eight-eight two-three-hundred -- Empire!" right along with the commercial (in the spirit of covering all sides of an issue, we also do a great rendition of the Luna Carpet song), and would be sorely disappointed if you were in the market for some wall-to-wall carpeting and were assisted by anyone other than the Empire Carpet Man himself.

2006_04_askempire.jpgLife is just a series of letdowns, of course, as the Empire Carpet Guy doesn't really sell carpeting, nor has he ever worked for the store in that capacity. The man's name is Lynn Hauldren, and he's been showing up in Empire commercials since 1973. Lynn was an advertising copywriter working on the Empire commercials when, one day during filming, he wound up playing the spokesperson character he had created.

And he's not just a beloved Chicago icon, either! He's also a decorated war hero, an accomplished baritone barbershop singer in the group Chordiac Arrest, a bobble-head toy, and a 3-D animated character.

But what about that jingle? You know, the one that's been stuck in your head since you started reading this article? Finding information on that proved to be a little more challenging. Luckily though, when playing the age-old "Six Degrees of Empire Carpet" game over drinks with a friend a few weeks ago, we found out we were only three steps away from a knowledgeable Empire Carpet corporate employee. A few email introductions later, we learned from our contact that the song was actually written by Lynn himself while working on Empire's advertising campaign back in the 1970s. And the singers? They're an a cappella group Lynn used to sing with right around the same time. The "today" was added to the jingle by Lynn when "Today" was added to the name of the company a few years back.

Problems with your carpeting? Need some advice? Email ask(at)chicagoist(dot)com.