One of the many things that makes Kentucky Fried Chicken unique in fast food history is that its growth as a powerhouse franchise was not quite as direct as, say, McDonald's. For one thing, the chain began not as a dedicated franchise location but rather as a menu of items out of a regular restaurant. In this case, KFC was essentially born in a pair of motels/restaurants in Asheville, North Carolina and Corbin, Kentucky. Colonel Harland Sanders, who owned both in the 1930s, rebuilt his Corbin location as a motel with a 140-seat restaurant after a fire struck in late 1939. Here is a June 1940 newspaper ad for the Sanders Court & Café, published in the Asheville Citizen Times. Note how there is no reference to chicken: The first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise opened on Septem
Sometimes I see a piece of pop art and just know it's from the 1950s without knowing anything else about it. Such is the case with this phenomenal piece from 1956, advertising a concert called Modern Jazz for '56, which seems to have been a package tour. It featured artists such as Chris Connor, the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Don Shirley Duo, and Herbie Mann and was sold as "an enjoyable evening with your favorite modern jazz artists." This particular concert was held on January 27, 1956 at the Victoria Theatre in what I believe is Kansas City. Dig this beauty, man: I would frame this gem in a heartbeat if I had it. So totally mid-century and just oozing with that hep cat charm you also find on a lot of jazz album covers from the period. A concert review published on January 29th b...
One of the greatest television specials of all time, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, is celebrating its 50th birthday this year! Let's take a moment to recognize this essential piece of our childhoods and to pay homage to the man behind it all, Charles M. Schulz. The now-yearly tradition began on October 27, 1966, when CBS debuted the half-hour animated special -- the third such Peanuts show -- as part of its Thursday evening lineup. Here are a few newspaper ads from that day. Now as far as I can tell, the first reference to the Great Pumpkin appeared in the Peanuts comic strip almost exactly 7 years before the show, in October 1959. Here is that strip:
In Club 99, I look at songs that peaked at position #99 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and help to put them into context. Together we can decide if the song deserved more success or got too much. The Song: “Nothing in the World" The Artist: Nat King Cole #99 Chart Date: August 11, 1958 Just one week after our last entry peaked at #99 on the Billboard Hot 100, one of the 20th century's greatest crooners grabbed the spot. And my friends, this is about as smooth and sumptuous a recording as we're likely to come across during this project. As far as I can tell, this song was actually the B-side to "Acércate Más (Come Closer to Me)", released on Capitol Records F4004, which itself peaked at #41 in September 1958. In addition to Cole's smoother-than-butter vocals,
These days preserving memories of Halloween parties and trick or treating is as simple as clicking an icon on your phone. Back in the day it not only meant fumbling with a camera and film, but also finding a way to preserve all those spooky and cute memories. To remind us all of simpler Halloween times, here is a gallery of 13 vintage slides (some Kodachrome) depicting kids (and kids at heart) getting into the Halloween spirit with costumes, jack-o-lanterns, parades, and of course trick or treating for candy!
I don't know about you, but there comes a point when convenience goes too far, and things just get weird. Case in point: This 1950 advertisement for Swift's Premium Canned Hamburgers, which purports to "take the labor out of the Labor Day Week End." But hey, as gross as the prospect of eating preformed meat out of a can may be, at least you can send in that coupon and get a sweet sandwich toaster for just 50 cents!
I Dig Chicks (Capitol Records ST/T 1193, 1959) is more properly billed to the Jonah Jones Quartet, but I'm not about to quibble. This cover is at once way too on the nose and supremely clever. I don't have a photography or graphic design credit for the front cover, so if you know who is responsible for this beauty let me know. As far as the personnel on the record, Jonah Jones gets vocal and trumpet credits but I haven't been able to ID the other musicians. Here is the album description from the back cover: "For those who appreciate the finer things in life, gentleman Jonah Jones supplies words and music for an album filled with songs about man's favorite hobby: Chicks! The now famous Jonah Jones style is thoroughly in evidence throughout this album. As he sails through these
I know it's kind of a cheap tactic to hold someone accountable for views they held decades ago, when society was very different, but I did a double-take when I read a quote from McDonald's patriarch Ray Kroc. Kroc, in an Associated Press interview published in several papers on September 15, 1959, cited several factors as to why McDonald's was such a runaway success. There were economic considerations such as a simplified menu and no in-store dining, but Kroc also seemed to focus on the type of image the chain should portray and the type of people they wanted working and dining. In Kroc's own words: "We don't allow juke boxes, cigarette machines or phone booths -- and we don't hire female help," he said. "In picking a site we count the churches and schools in the area, rather
It's been far too long since the last entry in this series, but I had to revive it for this quaint, mid-century beauty. It's Percy Faith and His Orchestra, North and South of the Border -- released on the Vocalion label (VL 3600) in 1958.