Great American brands we really miss

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It's easy to feel that the brands we grew up with were always there and always would be. Brands are part of the landscape. But like people, they have lifespans. And you miss them when they're gone. Here are a few of the beloved institutions many of us grew up with -- and are no longer with us, having presumably gone on to brand heaven.

Texaco
ME.Antique.Car.040596.MB––(Rancho Santa Margarita)– A display of "Americana" kitsch and other collec
You can trust your car to the man who wears the star. At least you used to be able to. Texaco, which began as the Texas Fuel Company in 1901, filed for bankruptcy in 1987. And though you can still see its signs here and there, it's just one of many Chevron brands, and not the gasoline powerhouse it once was.

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Pan Am
Pan American World Airways
Pan American Airlines -- Pan Am -- once synonymous with the white-glove days of air travel, grew from its founding in 1927 into the largest international airline in the country. Viewed by many as the unofficial flag carrier of the United States, the brand touched down and was grounded forever in 1991.

Zenith

Zenith Transoceanic radio, made in 1946

Once one of the largest manufacturers of radios and TVs in the world, Zenith—and its space age logo—was bought by Korea's LG electronics after Zenith filed for bankruptcy in 1999.

Polaroid

NOV 2 1978, NOV 4 1978; Miss America visits Robert Waxman Camera; In the Polaroid Demonstration Cent

Polaroid invented the instant camera, and along with Kodak dominated the market for inexpensive photography in the '60s and '70s. Unfortunately, the technological innovator couldn't see what was developing on the digital front. By 2008 Polaroid was pretty much out of the picture.

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RCA

JUN 10 1968, JUN 12 1968; 1969 RCA Line Debuts; W. F. Martin, left, of Lefty Martin Appliance and TV

The Radio Corporation of America -- RCA -- was a worldwide giant and communications pioneer with its own iconic skyline building in New York's Rockefeller Center. The company, which started out selling radios, became a powerhouse in records and TV. Founded right after WWI, RCA went out of existence in 1986.

Woolworth's

F. W. Woolworth Company Store, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Woolworth's -- the five-and-ten-cent store -- was pure Americana in addition to being a financial powerhouse. By its 100th birthday in 1979 Woolworth had become the largest department store chain in the world. The expansion of large discount stores such as Walmart was the beginning of the end for Woolworth, however. It shut the lights on its last store in 1997.

Compaq

Compaq / Logo an der Fassade

Compaq, which made the first of the IBM "clones" helping to bring computing to the masses, was the country's largest supplier of PCs during the '90s. Blame the dot-com bust for Compaq's demise. It was bought by Hewlett-Packard in 2002.

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Eastern

Eastern Airlines Douglas Plane. ca. 1936, USA, EASTERN AIR LINES' DOUGLAS IN FLIGHT. Travel at three miles a minute in easy-chai

Eastern was one of the country's most illustrious airlines, once owned by World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker and run during the 1970s by astronaut Frank Borman. The airline flew off into the wild blue yonder forever in 1991 when it ran out of money as a result of labor disputes.

Rambler

Minnesota Parade

Though it introduced American's first compact car in 1958, Rambler, run in the 1960s by Mitt Romney's father, somehow managed to epitomize all-American squareness. Manufactured in Kenosha, Wisconsin, "Kenosha Cadillacs," as Ramblers were sometimes known, were wildly popular. The last Rambler rolled off the assembly line in 1969.

Burger Chef

Burger chef
EncantoSunland/Flickr

In the late '60s Burger Chef as almost as big as McDonald's—which was one of the reasons Don Draper hungered after the account in this season's Mad Men. The Indianapolis burger chain, which invented the Flame Broiler, had more than a thousand locations at one point.

TWA

High angle view of passengers boarding an airplane

Howard Hughes took control of Trans World Airlines in the 1940s and turned it into one of the most glamorous airlines in the world. Its main transatlantic hub, built in 1962 at JFK Airport, was a futuristic jetport that spoke of unlimited upward possibilities.

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