Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell!

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Ketteract
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2012/12/06 09:24:05 (permalink)

Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell!

Pizza Hut served up its first slice in 1958, Little Caesar's opened in 1959, Burger King's Whopper came out in 1957, McDonald's switched from barbecue to hamburgers in 1948, Arby's started up in 1964, the first Taco Bell appeared in 1962, KFC materialized in 1950, Hardee's in 1960, Carl's Jr. in 1956, and on, and on...

I've always been curious about what those original fast food products were like - or, at least, what they were like only 10-20 years out. 

I've heard tell of Pizza Hut's recipe having been completely different when they were all sit-down restaurants; of Arby's having once carved its sandwiches to order off real steamship rounds of beef; of Taco Bell's standard ground beef having been something other than the economical paste it is today.

So I invite anyone who's been around long enough to experience that stuff to tell their stories!  Would love to hear!
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    ChrisOC
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/06 11:13:25 (permalink)
      I remember my first visit to McDonald's.  I guess it was in the 60's.  We drove up to a small building that looked like a custard stand.  You walked up to a window and got your burgers and fries in a red plasic basket.  You carried your food back to the car to eat.  I believe the burgers were 15 cents.
      I do remember  Arby's carving a big roast at the counter.
      I also remember when every burger chain had a salad bar.  Roy Rogers was the best, until Wendy's came up with the superbar.
    #2
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/06 11:14:10 (permalink)
    I can just hear the hum of all the Commodore 64s and TRS-80s firing up to respond to this question...
    #3
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/06 12:35:24 (permalink)
    Well, back when I was just a younger fast food was cutting off a slice of passing brontosaurus and chewing while running for your life.
    #4
    ann peeples
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/06 13:16:42 (permalink)
    As a young girl, there were few fast food places, although they were showing up. My parents loved going to one of a kind places, thus my Roadfood introduction. I rememeber Dad's first taste of McDonalds ......we were on our way to the east coast.he took one bite of their cheeseburgers and flung it out the car window( 67 chevy impala) He hated McDonalds. Yet Moms's last meal( she died 12 hours later) at her request, was a cheeseburger and chocolate shake from there. She couldnt eat, but thats what she wanted.Dads last request was a martini. Gin, of course.
    #5
    Pigiron
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/06 13:40:46 (permalink)
    The first time I had McDonalds (around 1970) and the last time (at least 15 years ago) it tasted exactly the same...which I always thought was the whole idea of fast food.  
    #6
    mar52
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/06 15:01:09 (permalink)
    I refuse to answer.
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    iluvcfood
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/06 15:42:22 (permalink)
    I grew up in a very small town in the country and the fast food places were not chains but were locally owned!  Capn. Yobeys, 2 Clowns etc were just a couple of the local places.
    We didnt have any Wendy's, Carls Jr. Pizza Hut , Taco Bell etc. The only 2 major chains we had were McDonalds and A&W root beer.  The A&W Root Beer was a drive up joint where they roller skated to your car with your orders.
    The McDonalds burgers were .19 at the time and the burger was the size of a Silver dollar stuffed inside of a huge gigantic stale bun!  In those days it was legal to keep all the un-sold burgers and fries and re-heat them and sell them the next day!  
    The only pizza place we had was called Pietro's pizza and it was Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy  across the bridge in the other town.  It was a ROYAL treat in those days when we got Pizza.
     
    #8
    MilwFoodlovers
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/06 15:49:26 (permalink)
    I used to go to McDonalds and buy their 12 cent french fries; head across Appleton Ave and buy a good  local hamburger and a chocolate malt. I always hated shakes, still can't understand any appeal. I never much ate chain food even then except for a special order burger at Red Barn, which tasted much better when fresh, and making a "whopper" at Burger Chef. I've gotten sick after eating 3 of the 4 real Whoppers I've eaten in my life so to me they always were bad. I recall Mahalia Jackson's chicken as much better than Kentucky Fried Chicken but a local place called Sehmers made broasted chicken that beat everyone. I've never had a chain pizza that got a second visit from me. Now I won't even try any. I thought Arby's tasted like bad wedding beef when it was fresh cut beef and now imho whatever it is in the bun is possibly better than back in the day.
    #9
    1bbqboy
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/06 16:03:17 (permalink)
    Hey Ketteract, since you're a KC'er, you might be interested to know that the 2nd Pizza Hut ever was on Mission Road at County Line, on the SW corner next to a Laundromat, just into Roeland Park. 
    Kittycornered from what is now OK Joe's, but was then Logan Moore Lumber. It was pretty cool in 1960 to have FF pizza just a few blocks away.
    #10
    1bbqboy
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/06 16:03:17 (permalink)
    Hey Ketteract, since you're a KC'er, you might be interested to know that the 2nd Pizza Hut ever was on Mission Road at County Line, on the SW corner next to a Laundromat, just into Roeland Park. 
    Kittycornered from what is now OK Joe's, but was then Logan Moore Lumber. It was pretty cool in 1960 to have FF pizza just a few blocks away.
    #11
    Glenn1234
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/06 16:15:58 (permalink)
     
    Well, not an old-timer, but a "middle-timer's" perspective .....
     
    I probably remember eating at McDonald's as early as the early 1970s.  The closest McDonald's at that time was up in Warwick, RI, which was 2 towns north of where I grew up in No. Kingstown, RI.  It was the old style type with the actual yellow ("golden") arches as part of the building's structue.   From what I can tell, the burgers themselves have not changed much since then.  The big change is the fries.  They used to be fried in beef tallow, and they were really good.   Of course, now they are fried in veg oil, and not as good as they once were. 
     
    KFC seems awful now.  I have no idea what they did to their recipe, but they were at least edible 30+ years ago.  
     
    A BK came to town in the mid or late 70s.  As with McDonald's, the burgers seem similar over time, but they screwed up the fries, going to those awful things with the coating on them some time in the early or mid 90s. 
     
    We didn't go to Arby's.  None were around, as far as I know.  What we did have was a local RI roast beef chain called "Walt's Roast Beef".   For a fast food type roast beef, that place was and still is really good!   RI has about 5 locations of Walt's Roast Beef.    
     
    There was a Burger Chef that we occaisionally enjoyed.   Of course, they have gone under, so there is no modern version to compare to.  The big plus at Burger Chef was that it had a "fixins bar", where you could add as much or as little onion, lettuce, etc. that you like.
     
    Wendy's came to the area a couple towns away around the late 70s.   They seemed to stay consistent up until about a few years ago when they started going downhill.  
     
    I haven't been to Roy Rogers in a few years,  but at least up until then, they still sliced real roast beef for the sandwiches.   I assume they still do this?       
     
     
    Glenn
     
      
    #12
    chewingthefat
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/06 17:22:46 (permalink)
    A "Mighty Mo"  at Hot Shoppes in DC, Marriott srarted as a Root Beer stand, built, Hot Shoppes, curb service, and a Mighty Mo was a must, ahhh, the smell when the tray of food was attached to your window, great memories. Hot Shoppes are no more, I'm pretty sure there is a Marriott or two, still around!
    #13
    Cosmos
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/06 17:29:09 (permalink)
    I don't hold any reveries about fast food back then ('60's) any more than I cherish the thought of dining in any corporate food vendor now.
     
    We had a Carrolls in town before Mickey D blew in...In fact we had 2 Carrolls in town before Mickey showed up. A burger and fries was essentially the same as a kids meal today. It was considered a treat to take the kids out for a burger and fries. We never considered it as real food. My mom was a very capable cook and really the only reason to go to one of those joints was for french fries because we could and still can make waaaayy better burgers at home than any fast food joint.
     
    #14
    iluvcfood
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/06 18:58:04 (permalink)
    McDonalds used to be famous for their fries and were the absolute best but no longer!  I cant stand them and refuse to order them.
    Same thing goes for KFC.........  they too used to be the best but not anymore! Every time as of late (which is rare) whenever we get KFC the Chicken is pink in the middle and the crust just isnt what it used to be!  Believe it or not.......to me the BEST fried chicken you can buy now comes from the Albertsons Deli!  
    #15
    mayor al
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/06 19:30:00 (permalink)
    In the early to mod '50's we often spent our weekends working on a cabin on the high desert in what is now Apple Valley, CA. we would drive (I was 10-12 yr old then) from the South Bay area thru Pomona to Rt 66 in San Berdoo then over Cajon to the Desert.  Our one food stop was on Holt Ave in Pomona at "MEL'S Burger Stand". Burgers were 15 cents, FF a dime, drinks a dime also. Add 2 cents for cheese on your Burger.  This was about the same time that McDonalds was making a name for itself  in that area.  The foodstand was still in operation last time I passed by a few years ago...Viet-Mex menu on the sign.
     
    A couple of other memories... When I returned from the military in 1963 I worked in Lawrence MA while starting college in nearby Salem. At the McDonalds there I tried to get a Burger on a Friday evening, and the server/cashier had to ask a 'leader' to get it for me, as she would only handle Fish Sandwiches...it seems the Fish on Friday thing was a really big deal to those folks.
    I didn't see home-delivery of KFC until I got to Indiana in 1978, but Gino's, who had the market name for KFC in the eastern USA did a good job with it.
     
    I think the earliest FF chain stand I remember was an A&W Root Beer Stand that sold Burgers and Tacos (early 1950's)...on Redondo Beach Blvd across from El Camino College.
    #16
    totillie
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/07 02:14:55 (permalink)
    Mayor? McD's in Salem? I do not recall it.  Or was it across the bridge in Beverly? That was our first McD's. Arches and all. Order at the 'roomy' window, eat in the car. My poor dad, who commuted from Boston and then had to eat in the car.
     
    But it was new to us, and oh, those fries. When we used to visit the Grands in NYC, we kids clamored for McD's on the Merritt Parkway. Laughing, our last M. visit was three years ago in the middle of nowhere because there wasn't anything else to eat. Except for a Burger King. ewwww
     
    #17
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/07 02:44:38 (permalink)
    McDonald's on the Merritt?
    #18
    mayor al
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/07 02:49:56 (permalink)
    Totillie,
    The McDonalds was in Lawrence, close to North Andover,  I don't remember the exact location. I worked at Malden Mills that first spring before starting college.
     
     I was hooked on McIntyres Fried Clams and Onion Rings on U S 1 in Rowley (now gone). We lived in Georgetown during my college years ('63-'68) and I worked nights either at the Post Office in Haverhill, or the HoJo's on I-95. That seems like a very long time ago.
    #19
    6star
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/07 09:25:03 (permalink)
    Well, after all Al, it was about 50 years ago!
    #20
    kland01s
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/07 09:28:03 (permalink)
    We didn't have any FF places in the town I grew up in circa 1960's but we did have a drug store lunch counter and a news stand lunch counter further down the street. There was also a bar/liquor store/restaurant that we would go to on Friday or Saturday for shrimp dinners or pizza. Whenever our parents let us go to the local "big city" of Elgin we'd always go to lunch counters or the restaurant in the bowling alley. Everything was mom & pop places back then.
    #21
    ChrisOC
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/07 09:48:13 (permalink)
    chewingthefat

    A "Mighty Mo"  at Hot Shoppes in DC, Marriott srarted as a Root Beer stand, built, Hot Shoppes, curb service, and a Mighty Mo was a must, ahhh, the smell when the tray of food was attached to your window, great memories. Hot Shoppes are no more, I'm pretty sure there is a Marriott or two, still around!


    Mighty Mo or the Teen Twist washed down with an Orange Freeze.  Boy, does that bring back memories of my teenage years in the late 50's!
    We would have a full car load and ask the person on the intercom to send our order out with #27, our favorite waitress
    post edited by ChrisOC - 2012/12/07 10:31:31
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    jaylhorner
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/07 09:57:39 (permalink)
    White Castle
     
    Carrolls
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    mjambro
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/07 10:06:18 (permalink)
    In the late 50-s - mid 60's:
     
    For a start, the fries were always (or most places, from what I recall) fresh cut and were typically twice fried in a solid shortening product (lard?).  Unlike today's fries, they were VERY tasty / enjoyable, albeit probably not all that healthy.  (Then again, is there anything healthy about today's fries?  or enjoyable for that matter?) Most orders were for an equal number of small fries & burgers - no large items other than soft drinks & coffee (12 & 16 oz).  People were a LOT THINNER back then.
     
    A second biggest difference was that there were no breakfast items and supper time was the primary busy time.  Today, it seems lunch time is the most popular.  Evening lines were MUCH longer.  I recall still my first night working fast food (Howdy Beefburgers - owned by Dunkin Donuts) where all I did was pour soft drinks constantly for two hours - it was that busy.  It would not be uncommon to have four lines, 20-30 customers deep on each on Friday & Saturday nights.  It was equally busy for the fry man & two on the grill - constant use of two cooking fryers (plus two blanching fryers) & the grill.  Since the fries could not be cut up fast enough, they would start blanching inventory in the afternoon and building an inventory of baskets in a walk-in refrigerator to help with the evening rush.  Business seemed to be essentially non stop from about 5:30 - 8:00.
     
    A third big difference was in the help.  Most, if not all, were college males - few, if any females and few, if any trying to make a living there.  Pay was minimum wage (almost all part time) where the manager would get 10-20 cents / hr premium.  The math was done primarily in one's head (no help from the cash register, although there were pads of paper available, but rarely used). Of course, the math was not all that hard since there were no combos, burgers were 15 cents, fries 10 cents and drinks either 10 or 15 cents with few other items.  Typical staffing was two on the grill, one to wrap the burgers, one on fries with another cutting, rinsing & blanching fries, one on soft drinks, one on shakes (when busy) and two - four on the windows plus a manager who would fill in where needed..
     
    Cheeseburgers and shakes messed up the easy math a bit being 18 cents and 20 cents, respectively.  Trick was to add in 10 and 15 cent denominations and at the end, adjust for the odd cent items although cheeseburgers tended not to be too popular back then.  The orders were typically matching numbers of fries, drinks & burgers, i.e four burgers = 60 cents, plus four fries = $1 and four 10 cent drinks (large drink orders tended to be uncommon) = $1.40 cents plus tax off a chart (adding in each cheeseburger, 3 cent premium just before the tax) . Requests for special orders were rare - perhaps a few / night such as fries without salt or a burger without mustard, etc.. 
     
    Coke was still the most popular soft drink, but root beer was perhaps 1/3 of the sales.  Uncarbonated orange was also available.  Shakes would sell about 5 chocolate to three strawberry to one coffee.  Coffee was available, but not all that popular of an item (Dunkin Donut coffee, but not labeled at the Howdy's where I worked). 
     
    A fourth difference was that there was no in-door seating.  Most ate in their cars or at a few outside tables.  Customers typically just tossed their trash out the car window.  Birds loved it, local residents hated it.  At closing, we'd sweep the lot of the papers - typically covering most of the pavement. 
     
    All in all, I wonder how FF places make it today considering the short lines, cost of seating and higher number of employees preparing all the specialized items.  Of course, a typical customer did get a meal for 35 cents ( no tax unless the order exceed $1.00 in CT). 
     
    Favorite FF place (of all time) - that's easy - It's clearly Burger Chef with Howdy's being a far second.  It would be a challenge to name a 3rd position - way back in line.    For quality of food (excluding their FoF), last place clearly would go to McDonalds with Burger King a close second (to last).
    post edited by mjambro - 2012/12/07 12:23:41
    #24
    FriedClamFanatic
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/07 10:31:18 (permalink)
    Growing up on Cape Cod (Falmouth) in the late 50's and 60's, there were no true FF in town.  There was a great Hamburger joint that sold smallish burgers, almost sliders, at 25 cents each or 5 for a buck.
     
    I remember when a local guy from Hyannis wanted to put a Kemps Burger (19 cents I think) in town.  The town fought him tooth and nail....and even though he offered to make the place look "colonial" with hidden parking. Poor guy was about 5 years ahead of himself. In the late 60's, the first Friendly's came and the rest followed on later.
     
    With some great Mom & Pop takeouts, we locals never seemed to need the FF businesses....at least at first.
    #25
    Davydd
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/07 10:42:57 (permalink)
    The ad in my 1962 high school year book. One of my classmate's parents owned the first Burger Chef franchise in Indianapolis.

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    chewingthefat
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/07 12:55:42 (permalink)
    ChrisOC

    chewingthefat

    A "Mighty Mo"  at Hot Shoppes in DC, Marriott srarted as a Root Beer stand, built, Hot Shoppes, curb service, and a Mighty Mo was a must, ahhh, the smell when the tray of food was attached to your window, great memories. Hot Shoppes are no more, I'm pretty sure there is a Marriott or two, still around!


    Mighty Mo or the Teen Twist washed down with an Orange Freeze.  Boy, does that bring back memories of my teenage years in the late 50's!
    We would have a full car load and ask the person on the intercom to send our order out with #27, our favorite waitress

    It was easy to get a Brain freeze dringing an Orange Freeze to fast, boy they were great! Bill Marriott Jr. was a waiter at the Connecticut Ave. Hot Shoppes, talk about learning the biz from the bottom up!

    #27
    ChrisOC
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/07 15:13:06 (permalink)
    iluvcfood

    Believe it or not.......to me the BEST fried chicken you can buy now comes from the Albertsons Deli!  


    That is interesting.   Some of the best fried chicken in the Ocean City area comes from the deli at Acme (which is Albertson's)
    #28
    Hepcat
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/07 15:36:26 (permalink)
    ChrisOC I also remember when every burger chain had a salad bar.  Roy Rogers was the best, until Wendy's came up with the superbar.

     
    Every? Where and when was this? I recall there was a brief period in the eighties(?) when a very few burger chains had salad bars in some of their stores in Toronto but my memory of this is very hazy. Therefore it could not have been for long or very widespread.
     


    post edited by Hepcat - 2012/12/07 19:49:02
    #29
    mayor al
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    Re:Oldtimers: What was fast food once like? Do tell! 2012/12/07 15:57:36 (permalink)
    Never saw a salad bar at a McDonalds.
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