Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 8:51 PM
Subject: Howard Johnson popcorn bars
Hello there. I am THRILLED beyond words to have found your site, and your amazing detective work. Over the years, including pre-internet,
I have searched for one particular item, that has given me the worst cravings, and that included one of my favorite childhood memories.
Howard Johnson's in Braintree, Mass.
As a family, after a special shopping trip to get dad a new suit, we were treated (for being so good) to dinner at "HoJo's".
While we waited for our food, we played with these tiny wooden 'blocks' in the shapes of buildings and trees and cars, that came in tiny boxes the size of match boxes.
I believe they sold them in the gift area. After dinner and dessert, we were allowed to pick one sweet to take home and mine was always the pink popcorn.
The popcorn bar; the reason I am here, was an unusual sweet and almost 'minty' confection. This particular flavor was called chuckaberry (sp?)
and was light and sugary and a had a bit of a crunch. Their popcorn bars were not sticky like a rice krispy type of bar, nor did they stick to
your teeth like caramel popcorn. I miss them! And would love to know if there ever even was a recipe for them.
I hope maybe you will be the one, that will return that tiny bit of lost childhood. I wish you luck, and thank you dearly, in advance.
This turned out to be a rather fruitless investigation. I looked at Howard Johnson’s menus until my eyes were crossed, and I could not find any mention of a popcorn
bar treat on any of the dozen or so scanned menus online, nor could I find any mention of these treats on any message board. HoJo’s food has been discussed endlessly
on various message boards. Further complicating the issue is the fact that Howard Johnson’s also owned two other chain restaurants in Braintree – "The Red Coach Grill",
and "The Ground Round". The restaurant attached to the Howard Johnson’s Lodge on Granite Street in Braintree appears to have been a Red Coach Grill rather than a standard
Howard Johnson’s Restaurant. The Red Coach was very similar to standard HoJos, but with a different name and a different, slightly more upscale menu. One listing gave
Red Coach’s address as 150 Granite Street and Howard Johnson’s Restaurant’s address as 250 Granite Street, with another at Granite & North Streets in Braintree-Quincy.
I could only find one menu from Red Coach, and it did not have a popcorn bar dessert listed. The Ground Round offered popcorn & peanuts instead of bread for customers
to munch on before ordering. I could not find a Ground Round menu from that era. "Ground Round" is a popular name for restaurants around the country. There are several
such ongoing, but they do not appear to be related to the Howard Johnson’s "Ground Round" restaurant.
I’ve eaten at one of the last remaining Howard Johnson’s Restaurants - the one in Bangor, Maine - twice in the last couple of years, and I didn’t notice any sort of
popcorn bar treats on the menu there. Of course, I wasn’t looking for them, so they may not have caught my eye.
These are the pertinent links at which I found most of this information:
A HoJo fan site with a list of HoJo locations, along with Red Coach and Ground Round: HoJo Land
*HJR-Braintree-250 Granite Street-So. Shore Plaza
*HJR-Braintree/Quincy-Granite & North Streets
Another HoJo fan site with a list of locations: Highway Host
"A History of Howard Johnson's: How a Massachusetts Soda Fountain Became an American Icon" by Anthony Mitchell Sammarco
You can view a lot of Howard Johnson’s menus via Google Images:
Howard Johnson's Menus
My best suggestion to you would be for you to post a comment on this Howard Johnson’s nostalgia Facebook page and see if anyone else recalls these popcorn treats:
Howard Johnson's Facebook Page
I am curious about this, so please, if you have any success, let me know.
Sent: Saturday, May 16, 2015 9:19 AM
Subject: RE: Howard Johnson popcorn bars
Thank you for your search. I realize I had left out the part, that these popcorn bars were not on the menu, and were sold wrapped in plastic,
in the 'gift' area, and/or above the cooler where their take-home ice cream was.
As well, the HoJo's I mentioned was a free standing location, but it was during the 60's ...so am sure it had changed several times since.
Thanks again for your efforts, it is truly appreciated.
I love your site, and have been 'sharing' it all over
Well if they were wrapped and not on the menu, then they may have had no connection at all with Howard Johnson’s other than the fact that HoJo’s sold them. The only commercial pink popcorn bars that I can find are sold by a company called Wright’s out of San Francisco. See here for a picture of Wright’s Pink Popcorn Bars: Wright's Popcorn. You can buy these on Amazon.com.
I had no success finding any mention at all of a flavored popcorn bar called “chuckaberry”, “chuck-a-berry”, or “chuckleberry”.
I could not find anything like that on a site that lists discontinued products: Hometown Favorites
The bars you recall may have been a locally made product in MA, and may not have been available in Howard Johnson’s Restaurants located in other areas.
Thanks! It's not the same, as I remember this super sugary popcorn from years ago. Oh well, another sweet that has disappeared
I don't have much hope for this one unless a former employee of that particular HoJo's can help.
Subject: Howard Johnson Popcorn Bars........I remember those
Date: Friday, September 04, 2015 9:46 PM
Hello: What a great article....I was just discussing this with my brother.
The Howard Johnson Popcorn bars. It was like a 10 inch long brick of
caramel(?) popcorn wrapped in clear cellophane. We used to get them at the
HoJo's that used to be on the Needham / Newton, Massachusetts line.....other
HoJo's as well. Like the candy or the chocolate lolipops etc. it was not an
item on the menu. I am pretty sure the HoJo's logo and name was on the
cellophane. My mouth is just watering at the thought of these. What a great
memory, Best regards Tom in Newton, Massachusetts
Sent: Saturday, May 16, 2015 4:17 PM
Subject: school cafeteria chile
The school cafeteria in Indiana had the best chili ever. It was in the 50’s. is there any chance you have it?
Sorry, no. Was this one particular school or school system in Indiana, or did all of the schools in Indiana serve this chili?
There were several schools that served it. Don’t know if it was state wide or not. I seem to recall that it did not have beans in it.
Lots of ground beef. many people in Indiana make chili with macaroni or broken pieces of spaghetti in it, but I don’t believe the pasta
was in this. Thanks for looking.
If anyone has a request like this, be sure to tell me the name of the school and in which city it was located.
3 small onions
2 TBSP fat
1 cup stock
1/2 cup gravy
1 cup cooked cubed meat
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 diced potatoes
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup prune juice
1/2 cup stewed prunes
Slice onions and fry in fat until brown. Add stock, gravy, meat,
salt, pepper, and vegetables. Cook slowly until vegetables are
tender. Add the prune juice and boil 5 minutes. Serve for 4 on a
platter surrounded with stewed prunes.