Nobody Did It Better Than HoJo’s

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I was weaned on HoJo’s famous pancakes we’d have on Sunday mornings after church, 1960s after-movie date night would end up there for ice cream sundaes, anytime was a good time for their clam rolls, and who didn’t ADORE the almighty grilled hot dog in the best bun known to mankind, a toasted top slit flaky bun. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Our go-to HoJo was on Concord Pike, there as long as I can remember with the same waitresses who were named Betty or Madge. Hard working, in their Ho Jo uniform of a blue (?) apron and paper hat, serving up huge trays of food to the regular and hungry crowd. I can remember having to wait in line on certain days and who didn’t love their ice cream, then they hand packed it at the store to take home. Black raspberry please.

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Concord Pike, Wilmington. Long gone, but not forgotten.

My walk down HoJo memory lane started yesterday when I was asked to bring some 1960s American classics to a barbecue party on Sunday.

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What’s more classic than a grilled hot dog on a grilled bun?! But good luck finding a GOOD top slit bun in New York. Ugh. No offense Pepperidge Farm, but stick to Mint Milano cookies, not hot dog buns. These have WAY too much bun bread, too fat, too thick. It would overwhelm the hot dog.

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No flat surface to grill to get toasty. The mother of all hot dog buns was JJ Nissen, a brand I can’t find here (maybe they do mail order?)

PERFECTION. See the grillable sides???? See how little bun there is per square inch versus the Pepperidge Farm?

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Photo courtesy of website eggheadforum.com

My mother used to slit the hot dog too, fill it with hunks of Velveeta (yes kids, we are still alive after eating Velveeta), then she’d WRAP the hot dog in BACON. Oh my oh my oh my. They were scrumptious.

I felt I had to buy the buns I saw at the store today, but I’m still on the hunt for the real kind.

The other thing I’m going to bring, but make from scratch, not buy in the bag, is The Original Chex Party Mix, a conversation of same on the blog Deep South Dish.

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Photo credit: Deep South Dish
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Graphic credit: Deep South Dish

This is what Chex Mix has devolved into – miscellaneous crunchies that I pick out. It’s awful.

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I pick out the pretzel rounds and squares and the mystery sticks.

I have to bring a classic 1960s dessert too – fudge? Taking suggestions, any and all. Meanwhile, I have a craving for a grilled hot dog but there aren’t any HoJo’s around, are there? The closest one was in Old Greenwich – you Greenwich readers – is it still there? If yes, I’ll see you there in what, forty minutes okay?

34 thoughts on “Nobody Did It Better Than HoJo’s

  1. I can find New England style hot dog rolls, that is what I usually find them labeled as, once in awhile here in the Midwest. I used to find them at Wegman’s in Rochester quite often.

    1. Lucky you. Can you mail me some??? 🙂 Just kidding. I should be able to find them in New York somewhere. It’s insane that I can’t now.
      Thanks for stopping by. Love your blog name!

      1. Freihoffers still make the plain sided New England hot dog roll. If you’re heading to OG, try the Smack-me in the Exit 5 shopping center.

        1. My Shoprite used to sell the Freihoffers buns too but with their new management so many things are no longer on the shelves. I know I can get them easily in RI but I need them Sunday. I’ll be in Delaware Thursday and I’ll look there then.

  2. My wife says bring either a Jello Mold or a skillet pineapple upside down cake for dessert.

    When we were kids, my parents always stopped at Howard Johnson motor inns when we traveled. They were the best and that orange roof was a sign of excellence. When we watched Mad Men, the best scene was when Don stopped at the HoJo taking his daughter back to boarding school.

    1. I thought I’d seen everything but you got me with the potato salad in a gelatin mold. Aspic yes, potato salad no. It begs the questions: eggs in your potato salad? Mayo or Miracle whip? Celery? We are yes to eggs and celery in potato salad. Miracle whip.

      I’ve never eaten a Kings Hawaiian roll. Their ads are funny. Are they sweet like Portuguese bread? Wouldn’t they overwhelm the lowly dog?

      1. Potato salad: eggs, celery is okay, and either mayonnaise or Miracle Whip. But, I gotta have sweet gherkins in there.
        The Kings Hawaiian rolls are sweet, but, it’s their luxurious texture that makes you ask, “what the hell is this? It’s great!” I think the ‘dogs’ would love it.

        How about this cheese ball porcupine? I think it could rocket the EOS name to the top of the guest list:

        http://www.midcenturymenu.com/2015/07/the-food-of-astronaut-wives-club-episode-3-retroattitude-behind-the-scenes-with-food-stylist-emily-marshall/

        1. Gherkins, tuna salad. Not egg salad. Whole Potato chips inside egg salad sandwich. Tuna sammy too.
          If I wanted to break in my taste buds for Kings Hawaiian, should I start with a loaf of bread or dinner rolls. It’s too much of a leap to break them in with hot dogs.

          Every housewife of the 1960s made some version of a cheese ball. I remember the ones streaked with port wine cheese and rolled in nuts. I love the olive porcupine though. That’s a for sure!! Thanks.

        1. Ha Ha ha! Great Chloe mocking. She deserves to be mocked for her ‘style’. Google images of Chloe – warning, may not be suitable for a man with good taste like yourself.
          I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to say toast without saying Toe-ast. Love it.
          Interesting reference to Tinsley Mortimer who just made the news for stalking her ex boyfriend? Something lame.
          I see that Chloe impersonator has several YT videos. I have to wait for my car windshield repair tomorrow. Watching the others in the series is on my list. Why read a good book when there’s really good stuff in YT?! Thanks for the laff.

        2. Drew Droege does the send up of Chloe S (an actress that has an A reputation, but, IMHO, B talent). What I think is amusing is all the names he/she drops are real ( I don’t know crap about fashion and all of a sudden there’s Proenza Schouler). He also does “My Drunk Aunts” (not nearly as many episodes as the Chloe gig):

        3. The way he says Proenza Schouler is PRICELESS. I literally laughed out loud.
          I am sure I’ve never seen Chloe S in any movie. I thought she was more of an image maker than an actress

        4. Maybe so. She was in “The Brown Bunny” (ick), but, I think the last time I saw her act was in “Big Love” (tv series). I finally had to look up ‘skort’.

        5. I know Blue Bunny (mmmm) but thankfully am totally unaware of Brown Bunny. No further information needed.
          Big Love? The series about polygamy?? You actually watched that??????? No judgement if you did, but really, there are better options on the boob tube.

    1. We’re a mixed race family. I’m ketchup and relish. Mr. EOS is mustard and the kids tend to be ketchup only. No onions but if I’m in the city then yes to sauerkraut then mustard.

  3. The old HoJo was on the Post road in Riverside where the Whore House is now (I mean the J Jouse!). My husband tells me before it was a Howard Johnson it was a Sheraton? That was before my time.
    HoJo’s was a perfect place to take the kids or for multi-generational gatherings. Nothing since then has come close.

    1. Jane, that’s what we felt about our old Friendly’s here in Mount Kisco. It was perfect for when the grandparents were in town. We miss it terribly.

  4. We called it Zebra S***. Chocolate wafers glued with whipped cream in two side by side rolls, the whole thing frosted with more whipped cream and refrigerated. Slice on diagonal. Bibi

  5. Nothing could beat a HoJo’s hot dog, except maybe a clam roll. There were three HoJo’s in my town.
    My Dad would always order coffee with cream. The cream came in tiny glass bottles, just the right size for my dolls.
    When I’m feeling nostalgic, I’ll make some shallow slices in the top of a hot dog and pan fry it in butter in a cast iron pan. In another pan, I’ll toast both sides of a butter smeared New England style roll.
    HoJo’s ice cream? The 28 flavors? Didn’t rock my boat because my home town had a place called Morgan’s where butter came in huge blocks and was cut to order and the best ice cream was scooped into sugar cones. Morgan’s was a butter and eggs place. Long gone. Brigham’s was an ice cream store with fabulous hot fudge which you could buy to take home if you didn’t want to eat your sundae there.
    For 1960’s party- Can you scrape up a bottle of Lancers or Mateus? How about Boone’s? Mix up a pitcher of Harvey Wallbangers?
    There are web sites which have menus for various decades. Try a search.

    1. Oh, I don’t remember the tiny glass bottles for the cream. Maybe my folks drank coffee black?

      UPDATE: I searched and found both clear and white glass HoJo creamer cups. Now I remember them because of the lift off tab.

      Hot dogs are always better in a cast iron pan and buns without butter and toasted are not worthy. I agree.
      Doesn’t Brigham’s still exist? I keep thinking there’s one in Newport. Maybe it’s something else.
      Your Morgans story made me pine for our old ice cream place in Delaware, Lynthwaites. It was a multi-windowed wooden buildings with all homemade ice cream. I used to order a triple-decker, in this order, mint chocolate chip at the cone, middle was banana, top was black raspberry. Of course in those days, I was a skinny stick and rode bikes all day long.
      There will be kids at the party Sunday so I was not asked to bring any wine or booze. But just for laughs, maybe I’ll see if I can find Lancers or Mateus for myself, a pre-party celebration! I wonder if anyone still has a Chanti bottle candle holder? They were the best when the wax dripped down the sides of the bottle. Klassy!

      1. When I was stationed there it was the Newport Creamery. In Middletown across from what was the HoJo by Gate 19.

  6. There is a small take out place at the Greenwich/Port Chester border that serves WONDERFUL hot dogs on a toasted roll. Don’t know the name of it, but if you drive down route one toward Port Chester, there is a roundabout at the bottom of the hill, and then you are in Port Chester. Right before you have to choose to go straight or left, go left into the center, where there is a dairy queen, an insurance place, and a 24/7 convenience store. The take out place is next to the convenience store. On Wednesdays you can get two for the price of one! Really delicious. Next time I’m by, I’ll get the name…….

    1. Dougie’s. Great dogs, only good luck
      finding a place to park. Between it and Carvel, the tiny lot is packed.

  7. My mother and I used to go to the Ho Jos in Darien for YEARS. Now, it’s a parking lot. 😦 And worse, A Whole Foods. At least I have pictures!

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