Thursday, August 10, 2017

28 flavours of nostalgia

Howard Johnson’s restaurants in no less than a thousand locations across the United States had their cultural peak in the early 1960s, four years after I made the notes above, excerpted from an address to my high school assembly and recounting my impressions of our family's arrival in New England a year earlier. Howard Johnson’s served more meals outside of the home than any entity in America, except for the U.S. Army. Probably already forgotten by most people under 50, it would be impossible to overstate the impact that Howard Johnson’s had on mid-century American culture and dining. Its vision of consistency, reasonable pricing, and quality food, replicated ad infinitum by franchisees along the highways from coast to coast, established the blueprint for the modern chain restaurant.

Today my sister Pippa, who in 1955 had been equally amazed, alerted me to the fact that only a single Howard Johnson’s remains and is for sale. Surely a Wolfgang Puck, a Nobu Matsuhisa or a Ludo Lefebvre should pay a tribute, with at the very least a 'pop-up' HoJo serving food that inspires, recalling the American icon and the memories of a generation that grew up passing time on road trips by spotting orange roofs?

No comments: