Category Archives: culture

Coffee Stops For America’s Truckers. Let’s look back in time.

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Restaurant-ing Through History



It seems that everyone has heard that truck drivers know all the best places to eat along the highway. [John Vachon, Farm Security Administration photo]

It also seems that no one believes it and never has. I suspect that the rumor was created by magazine writers so that they could debunk it. For instance, a writer in 1951 described the belief as “one of the most insidious myths in the folklore of American travel.” Anyone who is gullible enough to follow a truck to a restaurant or diner, he wrote, can expect to end up with “an acute case of gastritis and an awesome respect for the incredible powers of survival exhibited by the U.S. truck driver.”

Few truck drivers have claimed to know the best places to eat. For drivers of 18-wheelers, eating, like everything on the job, has to fit into a punishing schedule if he/she wants to make money. About the only places a driver can stop are those with diesel fuel, big parking lots, and handy locations. Everything else is secondary, including food, which leads to heavy use of antacids and sentiments such as “I wouldn’t feed some truck stop food to a dog.”

Another aspect of restaurant-ing in trucker world is a breakdown of meal categories. Meals become interchangeable and can take place at any hour in a revolving day and night work schedule. Is 3 a.m. breakfast, lunch, or dinner time?

Reputedly truckstop patrons might encounter fluffy biscuits and fresh vegetables now and then, but I have the sense they were/are the exception. Overall, accounts point to dismal food choices. One of the worst examples was given in a 1962 story that described deep-fried chicken with a coating of cracker crumbs: “You strike a chicken leg and the crust falls away in a curved sheet to disclose a sight best forgotten.”

Although drivers would have been wise to follow the advice to “Never order anything fried at a truckstop,” many plunged ahead with chicken-fried steak smothered in cream gravy. Along with bacon and eggs and hash browns, chicken-fried steak held a high place on truckstop menus. Does it still?

Occasionally truckstop restaurants bought locally and did their own baking, though you can bet that most of the time drivers ate the same fare they hauled in their refrigerated trucks: frozen food. Nonetheless, some stops were known for their specialties. A 1969 guidebook recognized the 350 best truckstop restaurants, among them The Platter Restaurant in the Bosselman Truck Plaza near North Platte, Nebraska, that featured a parchment menu with catfish and “pastel fruit plates”; a New Mexico stop offering Mexican food; and a New Jersey truck plaza with a Ranch Hand Special of three eggs, three pancakes, and two ham steaks, all for $1.75 in 1970.

Earlier, in the 1930s and 1940s when long-haul trucking became established, truckers traveled on state roads and stopped at now-nostalgic though often mediocre “mom and pop” cafes. But with construction of interstate highways and vastly more trucks on the road by the 1960s, their limited hours and small parking lots could not handle demand. Roadside restaurants grew into full-service truck plazas, complete with motels, stores, laundromats, and 24-hour restaurants.

But whether eating took place in a small stand-alone café or a 200-seat restaurant in a 14-acre plaza, three constants held true. Waitresses had to be friendly and food had to be inexpensive and plentiful. The third? Coffee had to be strong. In truck driver slang, a restaurant was a “coffee pot” and coffee was “diesel fuel.”

Truckstop eateries have made up a significant part of the country’s restaurant industry. In 1977 Restaurant Hospitality magazine listed the Ohio 70-37 truckstop in Hebron OH as one of the biggest grossing independent restaurants in the U.S, despite its low check average of just $1.14 and the fact that all its revenue derived from food sales. (Needless to say, cocktails and 80,000 lb trucks are a bad combination.) According to Ron Ziegler, former Nixon press secretary and then-president of the National Association of Truckstop Operators, in 1986 truckstops were surpassed only by fast food chains as “the largest feeders of the United States.”

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Posted by on MonAmerica/Los_Angeles2019-01-21T10:15:08+00:00America/Los_Angeles01bAmerica/Los_AngelesMon, 21 Jan 2019 10:15:08 +0000 31, in culture, historic, nostalgic



AMERICA and Donuts

The History of Doughnuts

The history and legends behind the origin, name, and shape of doughnuts

Francesca Yorke/StockFood Creative/Getty Images


The origin of the doughnut is heavily debated. The concept of fried dough is not exclusive to one country or culture and variations of the doughnut can be seen across the globe. Although the exact place, time, and person responsible for creating the doughnut are unknown, there are a few events in the history of the doughnut that stand out.

The Dutch Doughnut

Records show that the Dutch were making olykoeks, or “oil cakes,” as early as the mid 19th century.

These early doughnuts were simply balls of cake fried in pork fat until golden brown. Because the center of the cake did not cook as fast as the outside, the cakes were sometimes stuffed with fruit, nuts, or other fillings that did not require cooking.

As Dutch immigrants began to settle in the United States, they continued to make their olykoeks, where they were influenced by other cultures continued to morph into what we call doughnuts today.

The Doughnut Shape

One solution to the gooey, uncooked center of the doughnut was to stuff it with fillings that did not require cooking but Hansen Gregory, an American ship captain, had another solution. In 1847 Gregory solved this problem by punching a hole in the center of the dough ball. The hole increased the surface area, exposure to the hot oil, and therefore eliminated the uncooked center.

More colorful versions of Gregory’s invention of the doughnut hole include him impaling a doughnut on the ship’s steering wheel so that he could use both hands to steer, or the idea for the shape being delivered to him in a dream by angels.

However Gregory came up with putting a hole in the middle of his olykoek, he is the man credited with inventing the classic hole-in-the-middle shape.

The Name “Doughnut”

The origin of the name “doughnut” is also highly debated. Some say it refers to the nuts that were placed inside of the ball of dough to prevent the uncooked center while others claim it refers to “dough knots” which were another popular shape for the olykoeks.

The first written record of the word “doughnut” is in Washington Irving’s 1809 publication, A History of New York. By the early 1900’s, many had shortened the word to “donut.” Today, “doughnut” and “donut” are used interchangeably in the English language.

Doughnut Automation

In 1920, Russian-born immigrant Adolph Levitt created the first automated doughnut machine. The futuristic automated donut-making process was featured at the 1934 World’s Fair in Chicago. The Fair advertised doughnuts as “the food hit of the Century Of Progress” and they became an instant hit across the country. Doughnuts have been a favorite breakfast and comfort food for Americans ever since.

Doughnuts Today

Large doughnut chains like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts have reigned supreme in the donut world for the past few decades but as the “boutique foods” trend continues to grow, doughnuts are not being left behind. Specialty shops making homemade doughnuts with unique flavors and toppings are cropping up in major cities across America. Maple and bacon doughnuts, doughnut ice cream sandwiches, and even hamburgers on doughnuts instead of buns; it’s clear that doughnuts aren’t just for dunking anymore.


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Posted by on MonAmerica/Los_Angeles2019-01-21T10:15:08+00:00America/Los_Angeles01bAmerica/Los_AngelesMon, 21 Jan 2019 10:15:08 +0000 31, in culture, food, nostalgic






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By Tracy Lynn Conway

I have to confess that I have always wanted to be a hippie. I am drawn to the free feeling and peacefulness that hippies represent. Although I dress in modern clothes, I once had a friend tell me out of the blue that I should have been a hippie, she said that I radiated a kind of peaceful earthiness that made her think of a hippie. Although I did grow up in the 70’s, I was too young at the time be a hippie. I always felt connected to what a hippie represented though, and to me this meant peace, love, unity and some cool threads. In actuality there was more to being a hippie, including drugs like LSD and marijuana, communal living and radical political beliefs.

The Vintage

What happened to the hippies from the 60’s?

While many hippies made a long-term commitment to the lifestyle, others “sold out” during the 1980s and became part of the materialist, consumer culture. Hippies may still be found in bohemian enclaves around the world, while others settled down to have families but remained true to the hippie ideology through their lifestyle choices and community involvement. We have all benefited from the positive effects of this era.

What remains today? Lasting Effects of the Hippies

Laws that protect the environment became part of the U.S. Government and global agenda. Earth day, the Green Movement and concern about a person’s carbon footprint all have roots in the hippie culture. Interest in organic food, herbal remedies and vitamins all go back to this time. Due to the hippie movement we now have acceptance of multiple personal lifestyle choices including acceptance of unmarried couples, rights of homosexual, bisexual and transsexuals. Frankness regarding sexual matters also originates with this movement. Hippies, like their Wandervogel predecessors, encouraged a wide range of clothing options that live on today. The option for men to wear mustaches, beards and long hair was not only a fashion statement, but a form of rebellion against the norms and expectations of society, and has remained acceptable due to the hippie movement. Many people now attend free music festivals. The open access to information that the Internet offers is also believed to stem from Hippie influences. Websites like Napster, which offered music for free to all, and Wikileaks, which promotes government transparency all, share a connection to the hippie influence and mindset. article source

Where Are the Hippies Today?

So what happened to the love generation and where did they all go? Where are the hippies today? To answer that question, we’ll have to look to different places of the world and different lifestyles, because they didn’t all end up in the same place.

A large amount of hippies ended up becoming successes in various fields and professions. Many of today’s CEO’s of large companies were once hippies themselves, or at least claim to have been. Steve Jobs of Apple Computers is a perfect example of this. According to Steve himself, as well as many of his peers, he was once close to being a full-blown hippie when he was younger and during the very early days of Apple’s beginnings. He once said that taking LSD was one of the most important things he had ever done in his life, and he had also traveled to India briefly to partake in the hippie culture that had developed there, in search of spiritual enlightenment. Other ex-hippies stayed closer to their original roots, such as those that have had major success with medical marijuana dispensaries in and around California and other states with medical marijuana. There’s also many who even went on to become lecturers and teachers, and a good number of them are some of the professors we are seeing today in some of the counntry’s top colleges and universities.

May ex-hippies felt they had to “grow up” and become more like the rest of people around their age in society, because many became parents. Becoming a parent can be a life-changing event for many people, even hippies, but nevertheless, there’s still many who still have that hippie culture in them. Many have even managed to pass their hippie ideals down to their children and grandchildren by taking them to concerts and decorating their homes like a commune. I personally grew up as a teenager in the 90’s, but I had a friend who’s parents were still hippies in their older ages. They had a room that was entirely dedicated to the Grateful Dead, as it had nothing but GD posters all over the walls, black lights, beads hanging in place of where a door normally would be, and all the hippie things you’d come to expect in a room like that. They had followed the Grateful Dead concerts across the country as teens and were still obsessed with them after all this time. But who could blame them? They dedicated a large portion of their life to that lifestyle so they probably enjoyed it and didn’t ever want things to change.

The Hippie Trail
For the hardcore hippies that took their way of life as far as they could, many ended up in places like India and Thailand, as they followed what was once famously known as The Hippie Trail. Many visited countries in Asia and ended up staying there and becoming monks, swamis, or just party animals that are still dancing nude under the sun on some days like they did during the original Summer of Love. Goa, India is probably the most famous spot where most of them traveled to and decided to stay. There, they started a monthly party known as a Full Moon Party, and it’s still celebrated there today, as well as in Thailand and a few other countries along the original trail. source

Why The Hippie Revolution Failed

for your further interest and reading…


Posted by on MonAmerica/Los_Angeles2019-01-21T09:56:16+00:00America/Los_Angeles01bAmerica/Los_AngelesMon, 21 Jan 2019 09:56:16 +0000 31, in 1960s, American Issues, culture, historic, nostalgic



American Breakfast Foods (Over The Last Century)

American Breakfast Foods (Over The Last Century)

Stock image

American Breakfast Through the Decades

Illustrations by Lucas Adams
Honestly so much bacon

As with everything in this fast-paced, fleeting world, the average American breakfast has evolved over time. One hundred and ten years ago, that kale-and-almond-butter smoothie you’re clutching in your Soul Cycle-sweaty claw would be replaced with a filigreed silver table fork, perhaps spearing a wiggly lump of jellied veal. Or, 42 years ago, you might have been choking down something called Crab Imperial Chesapeake in between slurps of Tab. Or, 31 years ago, you could have been double-dipping between bowls of Rainbow Brite and Mr. T novelty cereals. (I hope you ’80s kids know how good you had it.)

And as with every trend, the popular dishes and products gracing American breakfast tables over the years were influenced by a number of factors: the socio-economic and political landscape (like food rationing during the World Wars), breakthroughs in technology (welcome to the 1930s, refrigerators!), and the advent and evolution of pop culture (hello, 1950s “teen-agers”!). But some trends proved lasting—even during the Great Depression, families still managed to fry up a plate of bacon and brew a pot of coffee.

1900s: Rice, cold meat, and jellied veal

In the days before refrigeration, home cooks prepared only regional, seasonal foods. Many upper-class families had the time to enjoy three lavish meals a day, and breakfast was no exception. In Mother’s Cook Book: Containing Recipes for Every Day in the Week (1902), author Marion Harland offers a handful of heavy, complicated breakfast recipes. There’s chicken in jelly, hashed cold meat, jellied veal, rice-and-meat croquettes, and something Harland calls “A Nice Breakfast Dish.” A sample recipe:

“Chopped cold meat well seasoned; wet with gravy, if convenient, put it on a platter; then take cold rice made moist with milk and one egg, seasoned with pepper and salt; if not sufficient rice, add powdered bread-crumbs; place this around the platter quite thick; set in oven to heat and brown.”

Notable breakthroughs: In 1906 the Kellogg Company debuts their Toasted Corn Flakes, and the electric toaster is invented in 1908.

1910s: Canned fruit, fried hominy, and coffee

Soon after the US entered the Great War in 1917, the government urged citizens to monitor their food intake in an effort to conserve staple food items, such as meat and wheat, to ship to US troops and their allies. This meant that the pig-trotters-in-aspic-laden breakfast tables of yore were replaced with canned fruits and vegetables, oatmeal, and butterless/eggless/milkless (a.k.a. proto-vegan) baked goods. But following a food conservation program apparently didn’t mean totally skimping. The classic Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1918) by Fannie Farmer includes this sample breakfast menu: Fried hominy, maple syrup, raised biscuits, sliced peaches, and coffee.

Not too shabby, World War I.

Notable breakthroughs: Refrigerators for home use are invented in 1914, but don’t become available until after the war.

1920s: Codfish and bacon

Home refrigeration changed the game in the 1920s; for those with access to money and electricity, safe food storage meant increased creativity in the kitchen. Codfish cakes, anyone? In this post-food-rationing era, people once again welcomed cushy breakfast spreads. This is the era of Gatsby, after all. Cocktails, fruit or otherwise, abound. As does bacon. Bacon all the time.

In a 1922 edition of Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries, a sample breakfast menu included: grapefruit, codfish cakes, bacon muffins, and coffee.

Notable breakthroughs: Quaker Quick Oats are introduced in 1922, packaged bacon makes its triumphant debut in 1924, and Kellogg’s Rice Krispies appear in 1928.

1930s: Toast, coffee, and Bisquick

For the “average” American family that wasn’t totally fucked over by the crash, the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 didn’t result in deprivation or starvation. Rather, it marked the arrival of what would become an integral philosophy driving the modern American lifestyle: finding cheaper alternatives. This aligned nicely with the introduction of readymade food, which required only one purchase in the place of several.

A regular breakfast circa 1935, as outlined in Ida Bailey Allen’s Cooking, Menus, Service, might include: Pears, cracked wheat, top milk, creamed codfish on toast, coffee, and milk.

Notable breakthroughs: Bird’s Eye frozen foods appear in 1930, Bisquick pancake mix in 1931, and Campbell’s Chicken Noodle and Cream of Mushroom canned soups in 1933.

1940s: Mint, orange juice, and apple butter

Another war, another round of food rationing. Between 1942 and 1947, the government urged families to plant “victory gardens” in order to cultivate their own produce, to can their own food, and to cut down on the good stuff like sugar, butter, and meat.

However, the sample breakfast menus offered in a 1944 issue of the Good Housekeeping Cook Book still include staples like bacon, eggs, and something called “waffles de luxe,” which really doesn’t sound so bad. A sample brunch menu includes: orange juice topped with mint, creamed ham and mushrooms, waffles de luxe, maple syrup, apple butter, coffee, and milk.

Notable breakthroughs: General Mills rolls out CheeriOats in 1941; the name is changed to Cheerios in 1945.

1950s: Casseroles, ham and eggs, and cocoa

Frozen foods, casseroles, “exotic” ingredients (think pineapple, ham, and pineapple-and-ham casseroles), TV dinners, bomb-shelter pantries, and the rise of the ideal housewife: Welcome to the 1950s.

The June 1954 issue of Good Housekeeping includes recipes to arm the aforementioned ideal housewife for an onslaught of weekend occasions, including an unexpected visit from the neighbors, a heat wave, a picnic, “entertaining teen-agers,” and a nuclear attack (that last one I made up). Breakfast menus include: “Pineapple juice, baked ham-and-egg sandwiches, quick-fried apple rings, coffee, and cocoa” for the teens; and “Orange juice, help-yourself cereal tray (assorted ready-to-eat cereals and milk); Gen’s ham and eggs, buttered toast, and coffee” for guests.

Notable breakthroughs: Dunkin’ Donuts is founded in 1950 and IHOP shows up in 1958; Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes are introduced in 1952, Eggo frozen waffles in 1953, General Mills’ Trix in 1954 and Cocoa Puffs in 1958.

1960s: Bacon strip pancakes and corn Lorraine

Enter the junk-food boom. Sugary cereals stake their claim as the breakfast of choice in most American households. Fast food drive-throughs also emerge, as do inventive breakfast recipes advertised by big brands like Aunt Jemima, Post, and Kraft, many of which include bacon. Like Aunt Jemima’s bacon-strip pancakes.

If you’re not yet convinced of this decade’s reckless use of bacon and cheese, check out Del Monte’s 1962 recipe for Corn Lorraine, a horrifying spin on the classic quiche Lorraine involving canned creamed corn and evaporated milk plopped into a pie shell and topped with Swiss and a pound of pork.

Notable breakthroughs: The nation’s first Wendy’s restaurant appears in 1969; Kellogg’s Fruit Loops and Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch become available in 1963, Pop-Tarts and Lucky Charms in 1964, Yoplait in 1965, Quaker’s instant oatmeal in 1966, and Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats in 1969.

1970s: Chicken livers and Egg McMuffins

The 1970s saw the emergence of a farm-to-table/locally sourced food movement. Coupled with the decade’s passion for fondue, booze, muumuus, and all things funky and foreign, this resulted in some interesting food trends.

Case in point: In 1974, the food editors at Family Circle Cookbook offered their ideal “Party Brunch” menus, including: pineapple-orange shrub, Crab Imperial Chesapeake, chicken livers, stroganoff, fluffy boiled rice, cherry tomatoes, coffee or tea.

Notable breakthroughs: Post’s Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles appear in 1971, Starbucks is founded in 1971, and Honey Nut Cheerios go on sale in 1979. Fast food breakfast sandwiches, like McDonald’s Egg McMuffin in 1972 and Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast in 1977, become popular. The first soy-based bacon appears in 1974. (Thanks, hippies!)

1980s: Diet Food, breakfast on the go, and more bacon

Oh, hey, chemicals and additives! Welcome to the average American breakfast table. In the ’80s, novelty cereals, frozen breakfasts, and diet/lite/lo-cal everything became the sustenance of choice for a shoulder-padded army of Jane Fonda-worshipping working gals (and guys, probably). If an office-goer had time to eat breakfast at all, she might opt for portable food, like a muffin or quiche, so she could stash her breakfast right alongside her kitten-heeled work pumps and her Rolodex.

Betty Crocker’s Working Woman’s Cookbook, published in 1982, offers an ideal weekend brunch menu for the titular Working Woman: eggs-stuffing casserole, bacon or sausage, broccoli spears, fruit and spinach salad, spiced coffee

Notable breakthroughs: Tofutti hits the shelves in 1981, Pillsbury Toaster Strudels in 1985, Snapple in 1987, and Healthy Choice frozen meals in 1989.

1990s: Novelty cereal and fun yogurt

Everyone loves the ’90s, probably because you were watching cartoons on a sugar high. TV-show-inspired cereals like Reptar Crunch, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cereal, Jurassic Park Crunch, and Batman Returns Cereal arrived on grocery store shelves; YoCrunch encouraged you to put candy in your yogurt; and thanks to the Bagel Bites theme song, pizza for breakfast was a totally legit choice.

A typical Saturday morning of binge watching Recess may have included a bowl of Trix and a blue-raspberry Go-Gurt.

Notable breakthroughs: Berry Berry Kix appear in 1992, Trix Yogurt in 1992, Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs in 1994, French Toast Crunch Cereal in 1995, Oreo O’s in 1998, and Go-Gurt in 1999.

2000s and beyond: Kale, cupcakes, and more bacon

In the early-aughts, kale, smoothies, kale smoothies, low-carb everything, and cupcakes became pop culture-fueled food trends. This is also when the organic/farm-to-table/fair-trade/small-batch revolution (Part 2) began, hence the kale smoothies.

Also, if you were at least semi-conscious and a meat-eater in the 2000s, you probably ingested a bacon doughnut, a bacon martini, a bacon milkshake, and/or Baconnaise. That’s because bacon was in everything.

To relive the confused, cupcake-obsessed, bacon-slinging, health-conscious aughts, have a bacon breakfast cupcake and a smoothie. (Best enjoyed while wearing a Von Dutch hat and watching The O.C.)

Notable breakthroughs: General Mills’ Milk n’ Cereal bars appear in 2000, making cereals like Honey Nut Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch a portable treat thanks to a “milk” frosting. Heinz rolls out purple EZ Squirt ketchup in 2001.

The moral of the story here, kids? Coffee and bacon are forever.



Posted by on MonAmerica/Los_Angeles2019-01-21T09:20:44+00:00America/Los_Angeles01bAmerica/Los_AngelesMon, 21 Jan 2019 09:20:44 +0000 31, in culture, nostalgic



American Phrases

American Phrases

I love this post because it is most original and brings to mind many traditional, American phrases as:

“The cat has got your tongue.”
(Meaning – you are so quiet and speechless, some feline must have taken your tongue.)

“Hold your horses!”
(Meaning- be patient, or to wait.)

“Pick on somebody your own size.”
(Stop bullying.)

“Don’t let the cat out of the bag.”
(Keep what has been told a secret.)

“Put your money where your mouth is.”
(Fully prove it.)

“pick up your feet.”
(Stop dragging your feet on the ground/floor.)

Do you have any American sayings/ phrases to share? Comment them here, jog our memories, make us laugh.

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  1. Act your age!Behave more maturely! (a rebuke for someone who is acting childish. Often said to a child who is acting like an even younger child.)
    Jonny was squirming around and pinching his sister. His mother finally said, “Jonny, act your age!”
    Child: Aw, come on! Let me see your book! Mary: Be quiet and act your age. Don’t be such a boy.
  2. After while(, crocodile)Good-bye till later; See you later. (The word crocodile is used only for the sake of the rhyme. It is the response to See you later, alligator.) 
    Mary: See you later. Bill: After while, crocodile.
  3. Age before beautya comical and slightly rude way of encouraging someone to go ahead of oneself; a comical, teasing, and slightly grudging way of indicating that someone else should or can go first. 
    As they approached the door, Bob laughed and said to Bill, “Age…

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Posted by on MonAmerica/Los_Angeles2018-12-17T11:10:40+00:00America/Los_Angeles12bAmerica/Los_AngelesMon, 17 Dec 2018 11:10:40 +0000 31, in culture


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“Style: How to Be a Jerk –”

The owners of the Brooklyn Farmacy soda fountain in Cobble Hill demonstrate how to make a classic egg cream.

For Soda, the Genie Is Out of the Bottle


CLASSICS Eric Berley, left, makes a cherry phosphate soda. At right, a sundae at Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain. Credit Left, Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times; right, Phil Kline for The New York Times

WHO killed the soda fountain?

Was it Franklin D. Roosevelt, who signed the 1933 repeal of Prohibition, allowing American adults to return to saloons and bars?

Or one J. G. Kirby of Dallas, who opened the first drive-in restaurant in 1936, sparking a new national craze?

“Some people say it was the guy who invented the bottle cap,” says Jeff Reiter, the owner of Blueplate in Portland, Ore., a soda fountain updated for the modern century. (William Painter, who patented the crimped metal bottle cap, ultimately made fortunes for companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Royal Crown.) “Once you could buy soda at the gas station instead of having it mixed in front of you at the fountain, soda wasn’t special anymore,” Mr. Reiter said.

A small group of modern soda jerks (they wear the term proudly) are trying to change that. Places like Blueplate, the Franklin Fountain in Philadelphia and the Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain are leading a revival that is bringing up-to-date culinary values — seasonal, house…

Read complete article at souce


Posted by on MonAmerica/Los_Angeles2018-11-12T15:20:00+00:00America/Los_Angeles11bAmerica/Los_AngelesMon, 12 Nov 2018 15:20:00 +0000 31, in culture, historic, nostalgic


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JUST ASK TEXAS: State Fairs, Food Affairs, Church Socials, Blue-Ribbon Contests and food innovations

JUST ASK TEXAS: State Fairs, Food Affairs, Church Socials, Blue-Ribbon Contests and food innovations

Featured image:(fried.chicken)

The advent of Concessionairs and elaborate food vendors

State Fair of Texas’ smorgasbord illustrates fair food’s evolution

If it can be fried, it’s been tried at the State Fair of Texas.

Twinkies. Oreos. Candy bars. Cookie dough. Butter. Meatballs. Lettuce. Green beans. Peaches. Pralines. Pecan pie. Jelly beans. Macaroni and cheese. Bacon. Coke. Latte. Beer. Margarita.

We’ve come a long way from when popcorn and cotton candy were the fair food headliners.

Pity the hamburger. You poor peanuts. Hot dog, you’re not so hot. We’re just not into you anymore – at least not at the fair.


Food has been a featured attraction ever since the State Fair opened in 1886.

People need to eat, after all.

But, through the years, fair fare has evolved.

Since 2005, there’s been a fried food explosion, thanks to a contest that honors the top new foods.

These days, food is a main reason why many people head to the fair, which opens Friday at Fair Park.

The fair’s food frenzy is reflective of a food-oriented culture that has a greater appreciation of food, said Christi Erpillo, a veteran fair concessionaire. Think about the scores of food programs on TV.

“Food itself has taken on a whole new role,” she said. “Fair food has become more interesting, more intriguing. It’s a finer food.” From simple fare to showmanship

As long as people have gathered to attend public events, food vendors have been there to serve them.

They sold their goodies at the Roman Coliseum, at Medieval fairs and at the Globe Theatre during Shakespeare’s time, said Lynne Olver, editor of The Food Timeline, a website that explores the origins of a smorgasbord of foods.

“Any place where there’s money to be made and people to be fed, there will be food vendors,” she said.

During the 1880s and 1890s, the early years of the State Fair of Texas, foods included sausage sandwiches, fried chicken, fried pork chops, hard-boiled eggs and oysters, said Nancy Wiley, a fair consultant.

At first, church groups and civic organizations sold food for fundraisers, but then commercial enterprises took over, Wiley said.

Last year, fair visitors spent about $26 million on food and amusement rides. Officials say the fair usually gets 23.5 percent of the gross sales from food and beverage concessionaries.

Many fair food vendors generate sales in the low tens of thousands of dollars. Some, though, can bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars, officials said. Then there are the Fletchers, who sell more than 500,000 corny dogs – more than $2 million worth – during the fair.

Fair food as we know it took off in 1904, thanks to the World’s Fair in St. Louis. The event popularized several foods, including the hot dog. Those treats spread to state fairs, including Texas.

Fair food would change forever in 1942, when the corny dog made its debut at the Texas fair. Fast forward a couple of decades and Belgian waffles arrived on the scene. Then, by the early ’80s, funnel cake.

Over the past decade, the fair entered its fried-food era, thanks to fried Oreos, Twinkies and candy bars.

But fried food started getting wild in 2005, when the fair launched the Big Tex Choice Awards for the top new foods.

Combine imaginative food vendors and a public that’s at the fair to escape reality, and you have a recipe for fried food success, Olver said.

“The concessionaires are really showmen,” she said. “They want to outdo each other. They want to do something a little bit different. It’s a matter of experimenting. You have deep-fried Oreos. If you can deep fry an Oreo, why not a Nutter-Butter. It goes from there.” Competitive cottage industry

Dishes that win the Big Tex Choice competition attract endless media interest, and the stranger the item, the better.

When Jake Levy won a Big Tex award for his Deep Fried Latte in 2007, his family received requests from media outlets worldwide. This year, he’s serving the Deep Fried Frozen Margarita, one of the finalists in this year’s contest.

“If you’re the ‘it’ food at the fair, you are at the pinnacle,” Levy said.

Some years, foods that win Big Tex honors generate more than $100,000 in sales – sometimes, much more.

No one has capitalized more on the fried food mania than Abel Gonzales. He’s won Big Tex awards for Deep Fried Butter, Texas Fried Cookie Dough, Fried Coke and a Fried Peanut Butter, Jelly and Banana Sandwich.

He’s done so well that he quit his job.

“It’s not something I planned,” he said of his successful creations. “If you start thinking, ‘Ooh, I’ve got to start thinking of something bigger and better,’ you’re not going to come up with anything at all.”

In recent years, however, vendors have become much more competitive – and secretive, Levy said. Mark Zable has shrouded his Fried Beer, a Big Tex winner this year, in secrecy. He’s applied for a patent and trademark.

“We used to call each other at the beginning and say, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about doing this,'” Levy said. “It’s become a briefcase and handcuff deal. We’re always trying to outdo what we’ve done. It’s bigger than the State Fair of Texas.”

How far does this food craziness go? No one’s sure.

“There will be some brilliant concessionaire who will ride the next wave and you’ll look at this 10 years from now and you’ll be like, ‘That was the deep-fried era,'” Olver said.

“You’re going to have things like corn dogs … that will survive as classics. The rest of them are going to be relegated to that big closet called food fads.”

While this year’s fair just started, the vendors are already brainstorming entries for next year. They’re in their kitchens, experimenting, frying up a storm.

What are they planning?

They’re not saying. A FAIR FOOD EVOLUTION

When it comes to food, the State Fair of Texas sure has packed it in through the years. Since the first fair in 1886, food has been a star attraction. Here’s a sampling of what’s been served through the years: 1880s and 1890s

Church groups and social clubs serve hot meals, cold lunches and desserts. Items include fried chicken, pork chops, potatoes and vegetables. There are sausage sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs and raw oysters, as well as popcorn, peanuts, ice cream and watermelon. Ice cream on a stick called Hokey-Pokey and Concord grapes are available, too. 1900s and 1910s

1900: Wienerwurst and hamburger steak

1901: A Mexican restaurant opens.

1912: Peanuts and hamburgers, lemonade and ice cream cones reign supreme.

1916: The Mothers’ Council of Dallas proposes a ban on liquor sales at the fair. The ban stays in place until 1933. 1920s and 1930s

1922: Barbecued “chevron’ – or goat – is featured.

1931: “An epidemic of smiles swept over the ranks of hamburger, candy, soda pop and souvenir vendors Tuesday as the high school students invaded the grounds in wave after wave.”

1932: “There were hungry kids, young and old, feeding on hot dogs or stick candy, drinking apple cider, eating apples on a stick. Depression? Fun is always new and never old … and there is no depression in laughter.”

1936: Fritos are introduced. 1940s and 1950s

1942: The corny dog debuts. Jack’s French Frys arrive a few years later.

1950: “Concessionaires were moving in supplies which will amount to 200,000 candied applies, two carloads of potatoes, 50,000 cones of cotton candy, over two million hamburgers and hot dogs, a million and a half sacks of popcorn, ten million bottled drinks and 50,000 gallons of ice cream.” 1960s and 1970s

1964: Belgian waffles arrive. Also, French wines, cheeses and meals are available.

1972: “Pizzas, Poor Boys and Pink Things compete with chili, chicken and cheeseburgers confront the customer as he threads his way through a maze of stands.”

1974: “A hungry person can choose from country sausage, Western stew, hot dogs, hamburgers, tacos, nachos, beans, french fries, skillet potatoes and German sausage.”

1977: New items include shrimp, egg rolls and the Texas Grinder, a pressed sourdough sandwich filled with beef and cheese and dipped in butter.

1980s and 1990s

Early ’80s: Funnel cakes arrive.

Funnel Cake (Pinterest)

Chicken and waffle cone

Chicken and waffle cone (

Chicken and waffle taco

Chicken and waffle taco (Pinterest)

1989: The Waf-A-Taco, a waffle cone filled with taco fixings, makes an appearance.

1992: Fairgoers can eat “at least four kinds of sausage, candy and caramel apples, boiled corn, shrimp, teriyaki steak, a bunch of frozen confections, and something called a Cajun stick, all served k-bob style. Hickory Farms even sports something called a ‘beef pop,’ a round slice of beef sausage presented in lollipop-fashion.”

1996: Jamaican food booth opens. 2000s

Early 2000s: All sorts of deep-fried food debuts at the fair, including fried Oreos and candy bars.

2002: “Fried Twinkies are the new junk food delight – or not, depending on your taste. … They’re deep- fried versions of the yellow cream-filled cake. About 30,000were sold at the California State Fair. Are fried Ho-Hos next?”

2005: The fair launches Big Tex Choice Awards, ushering in a new fried-food era.

Source: source: food fairs

SOURCES: State Fair of Texas; The Great State Fair of Texas: An Illustrated History; Dallas Morning News research

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