Heavens to Hamburgers

Heavens to Hamburgers

In the good old days—before the fears of e-coli and mad cow disease cast doubt on meals made of ground beef—our nation’s hamburgers were mouth-watering works of art! When America’s burgermeisters first slapped the hamburger sandwich onto the public griddle of the drive-in diner, motorists lauded it as the perfect portable snack. Along the roadsides, restaurateurs cooked and served them up with unabashed style. Unfortunately, the heyday of the simple, great-tasting hamburger didn’t last long. The impersonal age of fast food franchising saw to its quick demise. After the McDonald brothers perfected their…continue reading →
The World’s Fair Cornucopia

The World’s Fair Cornucopia

Who serves the best ice cream on Route 66? Is it Foster's Freeze in Barstow? Perhaps Delgadillo's Snow Cap in Seligman? Or maybe, the Dairy Queen in Ludlow? The answer is highly subjective, if not completely elusive ... The only point that ice cream historians agree upon is where the portable, edible container known as the "ice cream cone" originated: the future Route 66 town of St. Louis, Missouri. The place was the 1904 World's Fair, and although Italo Marchiony applied for a patent on a split-cone mold prior to this event, he…continue reading →
The Definition of Good Barbecue

The Definition of Good Barbecue

With the advent of television networks devoted to foods and programs geared toward “cooking it yourself,” today’s backyard chefs consider themselves masters of the so-called “barbecue arts.” Unfortunately, clothed in their “Kiss the Cook” aprons—with tongs in hand and battery-powered temperature probe at the ready—they are ill-prepared when it comes to duplicating real barbecue cooking. You see, contrary to popular belief, barbecue isn’t simply a matter of dousing a bag full of charcoal briquettes with lighter fluid, lighting a match, and then searing a slab of meat on a metal grill suspended above…continue reading →
Texas Gives Birth to the Drive-in

Texas Gives Birth to the Drive-in

People in their cars are so lazy that they don't want to get out of them to eat! The proclamation still rings as true today as it did when candy and tobacco mogul Jesse Granville Kirby first uttered the words in 1921. At the time, he was trying to interest Rueben Wright Jackson, a Dallas, Texas physician to invest in a new type of roadside restaurant, one based upon a revolutionary new format that would one day form the basis all “fast food” stands. Kirby's idea was simple: patrons would drive up in…continue reading →
Mel’s Drive-In Restaurant

Mel’s Drive-In Restaurant

Tourists are generally unaware that along with the Golden Gate Bridge and its trolley cars, the city of San Francisco is famous for drive-in restaurants. Mel Weiss and Harold Dobbs started it all back in 1947 when they built their first carhop eatery, inspired by similar restaurants serving motorists in the Los Angeles area. With a staff of 14 carhops covering a 30,000-sq.-ft. parking lot, they lured the hungry car owner with a local radio personality broadcasting live. As music reverberated through dashboard radios in the drive-up lanes, the curb-stepping gals of 140…continue reading →
Pepsi-Cola: Twelve Full Ounces

Pepsi-Cola: Twelve Full Ounces

Before the turn of the century, pharmacist Caleb Bradham’s drugstore was a favorite gathering place for the residents of New Bern, North Carolina. In those days of horse-drawn carriages and gaslight, bottled soda refreshment was rare and soft drinks the domain of the neighborhood druggist. There, a stomach-soothing concoction known as “Brad's Drink” became a favorite fountain mix, it's taste energized by Bradham's addition of cola nut extract and pepsin (a digestive enzyme that breaks down protein). By 1898, Bradham realized that a drink capable of calming the gut and refreshing the palate…continue reading →