Hot!Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age?

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Ketteract
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2014/06/16 20:20:50 (permalink)

Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age?

Pizza Hut, 1962:


Pizza Hut, 1973:


There's a lot to note here: the prominence of anchovies and ground beef as available toppings, the method of preparation (literally from scratch, it seems like - and with slices of cheese instead of shredded), the presence of beer, the ethnic stereotypes, heck, even the old-style exchange phone number (KE 2-9800).  

But I was born in 1980, and wasn't even aware of what pizza was until later that decade.  So my question is for anyone here old enough to have had chain pizza from before then: what was it like?  When did you go out to have it?  How was it perceived?  Any special memories?
 
Please ramble on!  I could read such stories all night.
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    mlm
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/16 20:47:33 (permalink)
    When I was very young, in Morgantown, WVA, we had pizza only for birthdays so it was really an event. We bought it but I don't know what chain my parents used. Since this was the mid to late 1960s, I wouldn't be surprised if it was Pizza Hut. Once we moved to San Marcos in 1971, we didn't do Pizza very often but somewhere in 1974 or 1975, they put a Pizza hut at the bottom of the hill from our house. We started going there several times a year for a treat. Going out for a meal or getting takeout. We used Burger King, Golden Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut. I swear it all tasted better back then. Maybe because it was such a treat.
    I absolutely love the retro menu, stereotypes and all. The blond young lady with her hand out stretched..... looks like she's giving the Pizza a 'heil"! When I was little, I used to love to look at the restaurant ads in the papers and phonebooks for the pictures. "Ain't nothing like the real (original) thing baby, ain't nothing like the real thing". 
    #2
    chefbuba
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/16 21:08:53 (permalink)
    In the 70's, small town CA, we had a Round Table and the local pizza place, Frank's.
    Pizza was a treat for like a Saturday afternoon out with dad or on a weeknight for for a special occasion like a school event, or baseball, church, etc.
    I remember always watching, fascinated how they tossed dough in the air. It always tasted good and smelled even better.
    #3
    mlm
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/16 21:13:26 (permalink)
    I think getting pizza, or chicken was also so special because it was exotic for us. My mother cooked very plainly and never made pizza or fried chicken at home nor did she buy it at the store. We never barbecued. I would have loved to eat special foods more often, but she cooked to please my father, mostly, and he was a very plain 'meat and potatos' man to an extreme. Once in a while she made macaroni and cheese or beef, or soup. or beans and salt pork with corn pone(MMM), all I which I preferred, but Daddy ruled 98 percent of the time and the things he would eat could be counted on one's fingers.
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    Greymo
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/16 21:33:28 (permalink)
    I wish I could help you, but I had pizza (or tomato pie) from the time I was a little kid (and I am old!)  But I can still remember the first time I went to a Pizza Hut.  We were returning from a cross country trip and stopped at a hotel one night in one of the "bible belt states".  I asked the hotel clerk where we could go out to eat and have some wine.
     
    I could not believe it when she told me that the only place for miles around to have a drink would be "Pizza Hut". After traveling over 600 miles, that was a most enjoyable meal.
     
    That was 30 years ago and I believe that I have been to a Pizza Hut at least 3 times since then.
    post edited by Greymo - 2014/06/16 21:42:28
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    wanderingjew
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/16 22:06:22 (permalink)
    Honestly, as a kid growing up in the 1970's all the pizza places we had in my area were all independent...Not a chain in sight...
    #6
    mlm
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/16 23:44:01 (permalink)
    I swear, Greymo, if you want to go to Pizza Hut, send me a PM to tell me about and I promise I won't tell a soul. WJ, aren't you from the Northeast? They do seem to have a lot of regional pizza up there, so if you were, you were fortunant  to have it. I'd be all over it in a heartbeat if I were there but the places I've lived in don't seem to 'do' pizza, unfortunately. 
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    Foodbme
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 02:44:34 (permalink)
    The first chain Pizza's:
    1958 - Opening of the first Pizza Hut in Wichita, Kansas, which will later become worldwide franchise of pizza restaurants.
  • 1959 - The first of many "Little Caesar" pizzerias opens.
  • 1967 - The first Domino's opens.
  • 1984 - The first Papa John's opens
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    Foodbme
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 02:57:33 (permalink)
    The first Pizza's I ever had was in 1955 in our small western PA town.
    A farmer built a little shed  in front of his farmhouse out by the main highway in and out of town and sold the best pizza's I've ever had. You'd pull into his lane and park in a field, walk up to the window, you had your choice of pepperoni or no pepperoni, that was it for toppings, Get your pizza and sit in your car and eat it or take it with you. No indoor seating. They were only open in the Spring thru Fall.
    We would get a pizza and drive another mile down the road to the Drive-In theatre. Watch a movie and eat our pizza.  Total bill under $5.00! Aah for the simple life again!
    .   
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    Foodbme
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 02:57:33 (permalink)
    The first Pizza's I ever had was in 1955 in our small western PA town.
    A farmer built a little shed  in front of his farmhouse out by the main highway in and out of town and sold the best pizza's I've ever had. You'd pull into his lane and park in a field, walk up to the window, you had your choice of pepperoni or no pepperoni, that was it for toppings, Get your pizza and sit in your car and eat it or take it with you. No indoor seating. They were only open in the Spring thru Fall.
    We would get a pizza and drive another mile down the road to the Drive-In theatre. Watch a movie and eat our pizza.  Total bill under $5.00! Aah for the simple life again!
    .   
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    wanderingjew
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 08:31:06 (permalink)
    mlm

    I swear, Greymo, if you want to go to Pizza Hut, send me a PM to tell me about and I promise I won't tell a soul. WJ, aren't you from the Northeast? They do seem to have a lot of regional pizza up there, so if you were, you were fortunant  to have it. I'd be all over it in a heartbeat if I were there but the places I've lived in don't seem to 'do' pizza, unfortunately. 

     
    That is correct, I grew up on Long Island. My first exposure to chain pizza, was probably Sbarro's when I was in Junior High back in the late 1970's at Sunrise Mall in Massapequa Park. At that time Sbarro's was still a local chain with its roots in Brooklyn.  My next encounter with pizza chains would have been in the early 80's in college at SUNY Stony Brook - further out on Long Island, alas, there were still much better choices in the area especially Station Pizza in Setauket which is still in business to this day.  

    #11
    WarToad
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 08:37:30 (permalink)
    1970's in rural Iowa - you went to a chain, or you stayed at home.  Pizza hut was pretty much it.  Being the only thing we knew, at a special "treat" place - we loved it.
    #12
    JRPfeff
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 08:45:59 (permalink)
    Foodbme - You missed Shakey's on your list. That was my first taste of chain pizza, and that may have been the first national chain.
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    SeamusD
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 11:53:45 (permalink)
    Back in the early-mid 70's, the first pizza I can remember is the Chef Boyardee pizza kits, and on rare occasions (usually if I was going to a friend's birthday party), Pudgie's. That was the first "party pizza" I ever had, and I remember it being pretty good. The only other chain we had in town was Pizza Hut, and I don't remember going there until I was a teen.
    When I was still young, my grandfather would take us to the pizzeria down the street for a slice and a Coke. That place is still there (my mom went there when she was young), and I go there whenever I'm back in town.
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 12:59:44 (permalink)
    I grew up outside Rockford, IL and as it has a fairly strong Italian history there were more than a few Sam's, Maria's, Tony's and the like but my parents' house was 5 minutes from a branch of the Midwest chain Barnaby's, so that's where our pizza came from.  Thin crust only, topped with a decent amount of cheese, cooked until lightly browned and cut tavern style, but the best part was the windowed kitchen where we could watch the pizzas being made.  Each table had a small holder that contained the menu slips that were filled out (a pencil was provided, too) and taken to the counter, where the pizza was also picked up when it was done.
     
    There are still a couple of Barnaby's in the Chicago area and I really want to visit one to see if the pizza's as I remember it.
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    Davebassman
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 13:13:52 (permalink)
    SeamusD
    Back in the early-mid 70's, the first pizza I can remember is the Chef Boyardee pizza kits,

     
    Up until the early 70's in Newport News, VA. the only pizza I ever had was Chef Boyardee! The first chain I recall visiting was Shakey's, still my favorite. I guess the next chain in town was Pizza Hut. Newport News always had good local pizza places: Mama De'Angelos, Joe and Mima's, Dinos, to name a few.

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    mlm
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 13:24:36 (permalink)
    This is such a fun topic, we should have more of these. Not so much debating what's good or bad but just swapping memories with a little culinary history thrown in. Thanks, Ketterarct! Got anything else to show us?
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    Foodbme
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 13:39:32 (permalink)
    JRPfeff
    Foodbme - You missed Shakey's on your list. That was my first taste of chain pizza, and that may have been the first national chain.

    They were 4 years ahead of Pizza Hut
    WORLD'S GREATEST PIZZA SINCE 1954
    Sherwood "Shakey" Johnson opened the first Shakey's Pizza Parlor® in a remodeled grocery store on 57th and J Street in Sacramento, California in 1954. Originally established as "ye public house" for pizza & beer, Johnson indulged his passion for Dixieland jazz and added live ragtime music to mix, featuring banjos and player pianos throughout his rapidly expanding franchise. As the concept caught on, the Shakey's name became synonymous with the World's Greatest Pizza™ along with light-hearted slogans such as "You'll have fun at Shakey's, also pizza," and "You can feed your face at any old place, but you can warm your heart at Shakey's."
    Currently, most of them are in the LA area, WA, Mexico, one in IL & one in HI. 
    post edited by Foodbme - 2014/06/17 13:44:59
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    JRPfeff
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 13:52:38 (permalink)
    I don't think I ate more than a handful of times at Shakey's, but I can still smell their sauce. What was it about their pizza that was so unique?
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    Foodbme
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 14:01:59 (permalink)

    Pizza Eating Statistics Data

    Pounds of pepperoni consumed every year from pizza 252 million pounds

    Annual pizza sale revenue $32 billion

    Slices of pizza that are eaten each second 350 slices

    Total number of pizzerias in the U.S. 70,000

    Percent of independent pizzerias that make up all pizzerias 65%

    Average number of slices of pieces of pizza eaten by a person every year 46 slices

    Total number of pizza’s sold in the U.S. each year 3 billion

    Total number of pizza’s sold worldwide each year 5 billion

    Percent of all pizzerias that offer delivery 83%

    Percent of Americans who prefer thin crust pizza 61%

    Total number of pizzerias in the state of New York alone 9,000

    Percent of Americans who eat at least one piece of pizza per month 93 %

    post edited by Foodbme - 2014/06/17 14:04:57
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    Davebassman
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 14:09:29 (permalink)
    JRPfeff

    I don't think I ate more than a handful of times at Shakey's, but I can still smell their sauce. What was it about their pizza that was so unique?

    Not sure. I remember it being thin crust and a bit salty. When I was 18-19 years old a group of our friends ate there about every other Sat. night. In VA. in the early 70's 18 year olds could drink 3.2 beer which Shakey's had on tap. I'd always order a large pepperoni & mushroom and a pitcher of dark draft (can't remember what brand). I think what was unique about Shakey's to me was that it was a place an 18 year old could eat decent pizza and drink beer....great memories of those years.
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    Heartbreaksoup
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 14:38:34 (permalink)
    The Space Age was mostly over by the time I remember my parents taking us out for pizza, around 1976, in suburban Atlanta (Smyrna).  I remember the Pizza Hut at Belmont Hills (demolished) being their favorite.  They did not like Pizza Inn (on a hill overlooking South Cobb Drive near Cobb Center Mall) at all, but we ended up there with church or school groups sometimes.  Godfather's Pizza came a little bit later.  I think that was 1979-80, because I remember they had a Galaxian machine there and I thought that was amazing - like Space Invaders but much cooler.  That was the big thing about all the pizza restaurants - they all had a few coin-op video games to help kids pass the time.
     
    I do remember Pizza Hut having anchovies on the menu, and my parents refusing to order any because they hated them.  I'd probably heard of them from references on Sesame Street or The Electric Company.  I was in Cub Scouts circa 1978-79 and we took a Scouting trip to Pizza Hut to make personal pizzas one afternoon, and I finally got to order anchovies for the first time, loving them completely, and then scheming to find some way to get some onto every pizza order for the next decade, with limited success.
    #22
    Ketteract
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 15:09:07 (permalink)
    Heartbreaksoup

    They did not like Pizza Inn (on a hill overlooking South Cobb Drive near Cobb Center Mall) at all, but we ended up there with church or school groups sometimes.  

     
    Coincidentally, I just found a menu for that chain from the early '70s - I'd never heard of it before!
     

     
    And yeah, Galaxian far outranked Space Invaders - though it wouldn't take long for Galaga to come along and stomp all over everyone.  
     
    Here's one of the older menus that I've found, Casa D'Amore in Los Angeles, 1955 - not a chain, but an interesting window on what pizza and other Italian food they were serving at the time.  
     

    post edited by Ketteract - 2014/06/17 15:10:16
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    mlm
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 16:32:23 (permalink)
    Thanks for the additional menus, K. I just realized that the pizza place my family went to was a Pizza INN, not a HUT. Oops, my bad. Oh, well, time for another confession. Chain Pizza, which is all I've ever had, is pretty much all the same to me, as long as it tastes decent. I must admit, though, I've never done a side-by- side test. Now purists may scream but please be kind. 
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    mlm
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 16:36:38 (permalink)
    I've always thought more people hate the idea of anchovies than have actually had them. I have never had occasion to try them but for years, I thought I'd hate sardines. A few years ago I tried some. They were kind of smelly but, honestly, to me, they didn't taste much stronger than dark tuna.
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    mlm
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 16:41:17 (permalink)
    Just thought I'd mention. My aunt remembered my grandfather bringing home spaghetti for supper. Kinda unusual for a WASP family in Morgantown, WVA in the 1930s. But Morgantown does have a sizable Greek and Italian community, so my gf probably bought it from a 'locals' restaurant. She didn't mention pizza. 
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    jman
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 16:42:17 (permalink)
    Ketteract

    Heartbreaksoup

    They did not like Pizza Inn (on a hill overlooking South Cobb Drive near Cobb Center Mall) at all, but we ended up there with church or school groups sometimes.  


    Coincidentally, I just found a menu for that chain from the early '70s - I'd never heard of it before!
     

     
    In Central Kentucky, back in the '60's, Pizza Inns were more prevalent than Pizza Huts. There was one Shakey's in Lexington, but it only lasted a few years.  Pasquale's was a very popular chain in our area back in the '60's and '70's. Sir Pizza is another chain that was  popular in the '60's and '70's.
     
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    mlm
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 16:53:28 (permalink)

    One more story, speaking of fish. I'll never forget eating a meal at a Chinese friend's house. She was using a condiment which she called a fish sauce. She reached into the jar with her chopsticks and said, 'here's its' head'. She reached in again and said,'here's its tail'. She then went on eating calmly. Just a little too much info for me. Sure cured me of wanting to sample it. I was only 20 years old and had never seen anything like it. 
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    Ketteract
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 17:00:48 (permalink)
    mlm

    This is such a fun topic, we should have more of these. Not so much debating what's good or bad but just swapping memories with a little culinary history thrown in. Thanks, Ketterarct! Got anything else to show us?

    Thank you, I'm enjoying it!  A thread like this was how I actually discovered Roadfood.  I was doing a search for some discontinued fast food item, and I tripped over an old thread here where people were sharing their recollections of Arby's from the '60s and '70s.  It fascinated me, and it occurred to me that this was the kind of stuff that would slip through the cracks as the generations pass - those ordinary everyday things that, at first glance, seem to have no value but can often provide a lot of color, character, and unexpected insight.
    post edited by Ketteract - 2014/06/17 17:03:52
    #29
    EdSails
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    Re:Chain pizza - what was it like during the Space Age? 2014/06/17 18:11:52 (permalink)
    Shakey's was the only pizza in our area. We always went there after football games on Fridays (I was in the marching band). I even worked there for three days in 1972. After dealing with my friends coming in on Saturday night, I quit!
    #30
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