Howard Johnson's Famous Ice Creams 1950s
Howard Johnson’s was America’s biggest restaurant chain in the 1960s and 1970s and as much as anything else it was its “unique” ice-cream (with 28 flavors) that people drove miles for. By 1948 they had sold over 5 billion ice cream cones.
HoJos, as it was called by customers, began life as a pharmacy and soda fountain in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1925. Businessman Howard Johnson, who had borrowed $2,000 to open the property, realized customers were queuing up for his ice-cream and milk shakes - rather than the items on sale in the drugstore – and he soon had his first sit-down restaurant. By the time America entered the Second World War, there were more than 200 franchised or company-owned Ho Jos.
The company reached its peak in the 1970s with over 1000 restaurants but faced challenges as fast food outlets like McDonalds burgeoned. Mad Men featured a Plattsburg, NY Howard Johnson’s in the 2012 episode “Far Away Places” - Don asks Megan: "Would you say it's a delightful destination?" She replies, "It's not a destination, it's on the way to someplace.". In 1979 Marriott bought the Howard Johnson's company and promptly shut down all the company-owned restaurants and "had them either demolished or converted into other restaurant chains." Though the Howard Johnson hotel chain still operates – now owned by the Wyndham Hotel Group - the last Howard Jonson’s Restaurant finally closed down in January 2017 in Lake George NY.
Courtesy Private Collection.
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