Frank Winfield Woolworth opened the first “Woolworth’s” store in Utica, New York in 1878. However, that store failed in its first year. His second store, opened on June 21, 1879 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was a success, and many others followed. F.W. Woolworth stores eventually added lunch counters and became popular gathering places in the towns in which they were located.
Woolworth's grew to be one of the largest retail chains in the world for its time, but stiff competition from discount stores like Target, K-Mart and Wal-Mart led to falling sales in the 1980s. In 1997, the company closed its few remaining "Woolworth's" retail stores and began concentrating on specialty sales under the name Venator Group. By 2001, the company had gone exclusively into the sporting goods market under the name Foot Locker Inc.
"Woolworth's" Department Stores are a going concern in Australia, South Africa, and possibly are still extant in the UK and Canada. However, those Woolworths are no longer related to the F.W. Woolworth's stores that existed in the USA, nor do they have or use the recipes from the old Woolworth's USA lunch counters. Even in the past, they had several menu items that the U.S. stores never had. They are and were able to use the Woolworth's name because it was never registered in those countries. If you request a recipe, please be clear whether it is from F. W. Woolworth's Lunch Counters in the USA or from a Woolworth's outside the USA.
People have asked me about a Woolworth's Bakery and Lunch Counter recipe book. I have recently seen evidence that such a thing exists. I have heard from two people who have a copy, and one of them has sent scans of recipes from it to me. It is a partial copy and has few of the dessert recipes.
There is a Woolworth's nostalgia & recipes message board at: Taste of Home
There's a Woolworth's Museum in Oxnard, California.
and another one here:
Woolworth's Virtual Museum
There's a 1957 lunch menu from Woolworth's here:
There have been at least two books published about Woolworth's, but they don't contain lunch counter recipes:
"F.W. Woolworth and the American Five and Dime" By Jean Maddern Pitrone
"Remembering Woolworth's: A Nostalgic History of the World's Most Famous Five-and-Dime" By Karen Plunkett-Powell
The cookbook "The Service Cook Book No. 2 200 Tricks 700 Recipes for F.W. WoolWorth Recipes" by Mrs. Ida Bailey Allen is not a cookbook of Woolworth's Lunch Counter Recipes. It is a cookbook of Mrs. Ida Bailey Allen's recipes that was published by F.W. Woolworth Co.
These are the only Woolworth's recipes that I have been able to find so far:
I have not been able to locate these Woolworth's recipes:
- apple pie
- banana nut roll
- bran muffins
- cheese pizza
- chili burger
- cornbread dressing
- orange twists
- peach cobbler
- peanut butter pie
- pizza flavored "something" that was not pizza
- roulade cake
- Russian cake
- slab cake
- sloppy joes
- strawberry banana pie
- strawberry pie
- tea biscuits
- True Blue Ice Cream
- turkey stuffing
- yeast rolls