Friday, March 26

u 2 can b a Big Boy

I wasn't thinking about Route 66 when I was left Vicksburg, Mississippi .. driving west on I-20 through Louisiana, in the fog. Somehow Louisiana takes on a new persona in the dark. Being very tired, I decided to stop for breakfast (coffee; steak and eggs; hash browns; toast and jelly) at the Waffle House in Rayville, Louisiana at 5:45am. The chef (working a 10pm-7am shift) commented that the first column of music on the jukebox includes everything on the "The Waffle House Jukebox Favorites Vol. 1" CD. I have since purchased my very own CD - now in my car (this just goes to show how much Fine American Culture I have). That's one thing the upstart Huddle House (1964, Georgia) lacks: kitsch.

There are many websites which document US Route 66 (the Chicago-Los Angeles road that came online in 1926), including National66 and The Mother Road; Route 66 Museum. Sadly, that road is now (mostly) a distant memory, having been replaced by the various Interstate highways, with their I- designations (except in Hawaii, where the roads are labeled H-1, H-2, H-3). I've driven what remains of Route 66 through parts of Arizona and California, and have even been to Meteor Crater (one of the World's Biggest Holes).

I noticed this on National66 : "The National Historic Route 66 Federation, a non-profit organization devoted to saving the legendary road, has selected Tulsa (OK) as the site for its annual Festival on 10-13 June 2004." Hmmm.

Maybe it was that early morning stop at Waffle House, which made me think about all the restaurant chains that have disappeared over the years, starting with Howard Johnson's (aka HoJo's, now a motel chain). Growing up, I remember the every-Friday dinner at the Howard Johnson's restaurant with the orange roof. Online, there are numerous sites that detail the decline and fall of the Howard Johnson's restaurant chain:; hojoland;;

I remember Jerry's restaurants and of course the ever-present Big Boy Restaurants (Bob's, Shoney's and Frisch's were all part of the Big Boy Empire). It's not difficult to find the history of these places on the web: Frisch's Big Boy (1948, Ohio); Bob's Big Boy (1949, California); Shoney's (1959, Tennessee). One thing you won't find (due to the watchful eyes of the Food Protection and Education department) is any sign of insects, which you will find at the (Plano, Texas) Cockroach Museum. If you don't believe me, look at the Dallas Food Inspection Scores or (if you're really bored) the Plano Food Inspection Scores.

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