Monday, October 5, 2009

Gettin' Corny

Howard Johnson's is dead and they took their corn toastees with them.

Pox on them, anyway!

HoJo's, with their distinctive orange roofs, used to be strewn all over these United States---part inn, part restaurant. And, eventually, part grocer supplier.

Howard Johnson's came to be known for their ice cream and something else that we'll delve into in a moment. The ice cream was so good, so popular, that it first became available near the cash register, in a serve yourself freezer, before being packaged and distributed to supermarket chains.

One corner of the box---I believe it was the upper left---bore the HoJo logo: orange roof with the name "Howard Johnson's" underneath. It was almost as iconic in the ice cream world as The Good Humor brand's little white truck.

But then ice cream wasn't enough, and HoJo's came out with some other items for your, as they say, grocer's freezer.

One of those items was something called "corn toastees."

These toasties were delectable little squares of cornbread---the flavors were plain and blueberry. They came six or eight to a box, and were separated inside by little pieces of parchment paper.

Oh, how my mother and I became hooked on those things.



An ad for HoJo's corn toastees, circa mid-1970s


This was the mid-to-late '70s, and mom would buy the store out. It was not uncommon to see five, six boxes of corn toastees in the freezer.

So simple: pop 'em in the toaster for a couple minutes, spread them with butter, take a bite, and then your knees would buckle.

Goodness gracious, were they good!

Then they came out with the blueberry flavor, and those were good, too.

But just like that, the corn toastees disappeared. Probably happened around the same time that the HoJo restaurants themselves vanished.

Howard Johnson's, ironically, was known for serving folks on the road, usually on vacation. But they brought pleasure to mom and me in our own home, thanks to their corn toastees.

I remember laughing at the grocery store once, because the conveyor belt was filled with boxes of those darn toastees.

Toaster Strudel, put out by Pillsbury, are some good eatin', too---with their flaky crust and tiny packets of frosting and yummy fillings.

Too bad that another company couldn't have taken over the production of corn toastees, though.

The good really do die young---even when it comes to foodstuffs.

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