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Old 02-22-2020, 04:07 AM   #1
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What Did We Ever Do Before Fast Food?



Anyone remember signs like this? Before Fast Food Restaurants, eating places were more in the line of small individual family businesses with a sign out by the road that simply said "EAT". Nothing much franchised outside of the larger cities. Some places were in buildings and some were in purpose built stainless steel pre-fab's made to look like Rail Road Dining Cars. (probably because in those times most traveling was done by rail) Pennsylvania is a state with a lot of these places still in business.

If you have some time to kill and want to watch a 128 minute movie that showcases how we used to eat and in some places still do yet today, kick back and watch this Youtube video......I think you'll enjoy it.

Pennsylvania Diners and other Roadside Restaurants


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Old 02-22-2020, 04:34 AM   #2
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You may also enjoy New Jersy's take on Diners too.

New Jersy, "Diner Capital of the World".

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Old 02-22-2020, 06:47 AM   #3
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I'm still a fan of Diners and local owned Restaurants.
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Old 02-22-2020, 09:29 AM   #4
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I'm 74 years old; I remember there was always Pizza delivery and Chinese also ...


The White Castle was there, and when the first McDonald's opened next to the Skating Rink (1961, I think), you could get a "Sack-O-Burgers" (Six), for 69 cents...


The first Burger King opened in 1967.... the Whoppers were actually a WHOPPER, and sold for 53 cents...
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Old 02-22-2020, 11:22 AM   #5
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I remember going to Bob's Big Boy as a kid in the 1950s. I don't remember if we ever went inside or only ever ate in the car with car hop service. It was fun, as a kid.

I also remember when McDonald's proudly changed their signs to include "Over 1 Million Burgers Sold" or something to that effect.

Back then, I lived in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California.

Bob's Big Boy on Wikipedia
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Old 02-22-2020, 11:31 AM   #6
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When I was a kid, a man named Joe Bury bought an abandoned Gas Station up on the
highway, converted the repair bay area into a living space, and the "office" area into a
burger joint. The inverted "U"- shaped counter only had 14 stools, and the cooking area
was right there along the back wall.
The man never had any hired help; He was in there from 11:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M. seven
days a week.
He offered just three things on his menu; His idea of a burger, deep-fried
potato nuggets (something like Tater Tots), and cold sodas. The only toppers offered
were grated Parmesan cheese, chopped onion, pickled hot pepper rings, and ketchup for
the nuggets.
.............That tiny place was rarely without patrons. Truckers would get off the new
Interstate and park on the shoulder for Joe's burgers.
(That interstate was probably the reason the station was abandoned......)
I ate about a thousand of those burgers before moving away........
As soon as I had my own kitchen and started serious cooking, I worked to duplicate the
Joe Bury experience.........here's the result.
LT
2 lb. ground Italian sausage (mild)
2 lb. ground beef
1 lg. can tomato juice (46 oz.)
1 qt. tomatoes (crushed)
2 cans (6 oz. each) tomato paste
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. sweet basil
2 cloves minced garlic
Parmesan cheese
Mix ground Italian sausage and ground beef together. Make into patties and brown both
sides in a cast-iron skillet.
Place the burgers into large baking pan.
In a large sauce-pot, Mix tomato juice, tomatoes, paste, salt,
pepper, sweet basil and garlic together. Pour over the burgers.
Bake at 300 degrees for about 40 minutes or until patties are cooked through.
Serve on lightly toasted soft Kaiser rolls. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and add pepper
rings, if you like.
Serve with tater tots-or hash Browns
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Old 02-22-2020, 02:01 PM   #7
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Interesting story that, LC

Down the river about 50 miles from me is Portsmouth, Ohio. Historically it was the southern terminus of Ohio's Erie Canal. Second to that is Hickey's Hamburgers of Portsmouth, which is still operating today. Hickey's burgers sound a lot like the recipe you posted. The grill is hot, covered liberally with salt, and the burgers fried crisp on both sides in their grease. They'll even offer you a side of grease for your burger if you wish. It's a local landmark.

They bring these burgers out as meat balls and they are mashed flat on the grill when they cook them. Real Umami here.


The fellow who opened the gas station sounds like he may have worked a
soda fountain at one time. Hickey's is right on the side of ST RT 52 east
in the town and a lot of trucks stop there. These are photos I took last time I was there.







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Old 02-22-2020, 02:37 PM   #8
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Well, where I grew up street food were common, as they are today. So “fast food” has always been there.
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Old 02-22-2020, 03:40 PM   #9
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I was a regular patron of the first A & W fast food shop opened in Canada - which took place in 1958 I believe it was, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where I was born & raised.
It had car hop service to your car, and the car hops worked on roller skates for several years - don't know how they did it !


I'm still a regular at A. & W. restaurants to this day !
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Old 02-22-2020, 04:19 PM   #10
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As a teen with a new driver's license, drive-in restaurants were the in thing. There were a couple within a reasonable drive. The fare of the day was burgers one way or another. The ultimate was the Quintuple Burger, five burgers on a sub roll with all the fixings. Sadly I never had a "cool" car to show off.
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Old 02-22-2020, 04:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
Well, where I grew up street food were common, as they are today. So “fast food” has always been there.
This reminds me of an article I read on Serious Eats recently, by the author of "Drive-Thru Dreams: A Journey Through the Heart of America's Fast-Food Kingdom." Fast food has been around for millennia.

https://www.seriouseats.com/2020/02/...fast-food.html
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Old 02-22-2020, 04:45 PM   #12
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A lot of fast food joints (think chains) require the staff to get the order cleared off the board within a set-amount of time. Drive-thru takes priority over those who walk into the store. Franchise owners have to meet a monthly quota AND have that clear time within the company's requirements or the franchise owner is penalized.
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Old 02-22-2020, 06:03 PM   #13
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Good point there CW. What makes fast food places hold the position in our minds that they do? To me it's the branding that came with the 1960's decade of franchising. Col. Saunders at KFC, Wendy at Wendy's, Ronald McDonald at McDonald's, etc all of which creates their brand identity.

In the first post where you see the photo of the sign that simply says "EAT" so many mom & pop restaurants then were simple family affairs. A few may have had another location or two depending on having a large enough family to staff them. But those EAT signs were very generic although the menu could have been anything but. (as you would see in the video's) The franchised fast food shops seemed to focus on one type of cuisine. Roast Beef, Fish, Burgers, Pizza, Mexican, Chicken, Spaghetti, etc. And just the name of the place told you what their specialty was.
(due to the brand name association set in our memories)

From what I've learned there is nothing new about fast food. Archaeologist who have excavated in parts of old Rome have concluded Oysters and some sea foods were common street vendors fare and baked goods were also common. Being surrounded by the sea, early fast food there would logically draw from that abundance. But another factor was it being so inexpensive such that the poor or people of limited means could consume & enjoy it. Still, there was another factor and that being not everyone's living arrangements had a kitchen or place to cook. Thus they relied on the hastily made inexpensive fare from the streets. A lot of young kids find that their first car doubles as a first house, but since it doesn't have a kitchen a drive in or fast food place is a natural destination today. But to those of us with a more developed appetite a place like a Diner is a big step up from Hot Dogs, Burgers, or Pizza.
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Old 02-22-2020, 06:11 PM   #14
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I love fast food. I wish I could afford it, healthwise and moneywise, to eat it all the time. Alas...

I remember back in 1975, the tacos and tostadas at Taco Bell were only 33¢. A Quarter Pounder at McDonald's was 75¢. How times have changed.
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Old 02-22-2020, 06:17 PM   #15
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My parents had one of those Mom & Pop shops (a café, not a diner). We had a woman who made homemade soups, another who baked pies, etc. There was a set menu, and a daily special menu (think 1/2 hot) (or a whole hot) beef sandwich on Monday's lunch special using the prime rib from the day before and any leftover gravy). Split-pea soup from the hambone for Sunday's ham. Turkey chow mein and turkey soup if turkey was served. Hand-dipped shakes. The lunch crowd cleared out faster than the supper crowd. The breakfast crowd was a 20-30 minute seating. Turning those tops over was key for business--and for the waitresses to make their tips.
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Old 02-22-2020, 07:09 PM   #16
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I love diners! However, my... less than genius family members are more interested in fast food!
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Old 02-22-2020, 10:48 PM   #17
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I can't remember the last time I was in a fast food place, though it had to be Church's Chicken. I'm glad it's not closer! They not only have the best, and huge pieces of chicken, but really good fried okra.

I should have said that I'm lucky they aren't closer!
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Old 02-23-2020, 12:08 AM   #18
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As I grew up in the '50s in my rural western Kentucky we didn't have any fast food places, so I never became familiar with such establishments.

The only ones I remember as a child were those we stopped at as we drove to my northern Minnesota grandparents' home and were the ones that advertised A&W Rootbeer. As I recall there was one near Madison, Wisconsin that was about our halfway place. Loved the "frosty"mugs.
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Old 02-23-2020, 08:35 PM   #19
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I too loved the Frosty mugss of A & W Root Beer, eapecialy with a scoop af vanilla ice cream, i.e
root beer float. As a teen, we enjoeydhe food, and got too see one of the prettiest car hops in town. We also ha Cludes Drive In with its 3/4 pounfer. The Big C, still a favoritr for both locals and retirning tourists. The frirs are fresly cut and fried with other great fried sandwiches anf sides., too many to list here. The West Pier Drive In is lehendary for its burgers and other foods. Both Cydes and West Pier offer real shakes and malts too. Our Big Boy eas Elias Brothers Big Boy and it was ok. Our first chais were Buther Chef, and Dod and Suds. The other chains didn't arrive until 1975 or later. KFC arrived in 1079. Most paces had car hops. Only pizza koints Clydes, West Pier, and Sub Shops remain, and Taco Bell.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind Of the North
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Old 02-23-2020, 10:31 PM   #20
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This thread reminds me of my Grandpa.

He was born in 1898. Was married by 20.

Raised his family on the farm, 17 kids.

Aa grandkids we always ate well when we visited Grandma and Grandpa.

Around late 70's early 80's, I had to be around 10, we took Grandpa to Pizza Hut. Understand, Pizza Hut put out a better pizza then.

My Grandpa ate a couple bites, my Dad ask, what do you think? Seriously the quote, "I reckon that's almost as good as turtle soup". I still remember it to this day lol.
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