Memory Lane: Howard Johnson’s

Image result for images of howard johnson's restaurant

Something good was lost when the Howard Johnson’s restaurants faded from the landscape.

When my father took us to see Grammy, he often stopped at HoJo’s on the way home and bought us kids ice cream cones. Howard Johnson’s raspberry sherbet–wow! The only thing that could compare with it was Howard Johnson’s black raspberry sherbet.

And HoJo’s fried clams–aah, delightful! At the HoJo’s in East Lansing, Michigan, they used to have “All You Can Eat Night” every Tuesday–and I’d go there and chow down on fried clams.

Everywhere was the trademark orange-and-aqua color scheme. And it didn’t matter where you were: HoJo’s was always HoJo’s, coast to coast. They made their own ice cream, by the way, and were justly proud of it. What I wouldn’t give for a pint of Howard Johnson’s black raspberry in my freezer.

But the whole enterprise has just sort of dwindled away, leaving naught but happy memories.

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

7 responses to “Memory Lane: Howard Johnson’s

  • Phoebe

    I’d almost forgotten about those wonderful fried clams! And is my memory failing more than I thought, or was there also pistachio ice cream? Thank you for another reminder of good things.


    • leeduigon

      You could even buy HoJo’s fried clams in the supermarket–frozen, of course, but still the best.
      I don’t remember if they had pistachio ice cream. They had 28 flavors, but I never could pass up the raspberry.


  • UnKnowable

    The midwestern town I lived in as a child had few national chain stores/restaurants, so when the built a Howard Johnson’s I was delighted. Indeed, they had pistachio ice cream and that was the main attraction, as far as I’m concerned.

    The last time I visited the town of my birth, the building was still there, but it was part of a local chain, at that point. I ate there one snowy night in 2001, but it looked far different from its HJ days.

    IMO, the U.S, peaked in the mid to latter ’60s and things have been deteriorating ever since. The country had lost many of its values by 1972-1973 and our prosperity and economic security was lost with it. Funny how that seems to work.


    • leeduigon

      Peaked in the 50s and 60s–you know, you just might be right.


      • UnKnowable

        It’s tempting to attribute that to the End Times, and that may be the reason, but honesty dictates that I keep in mind that the U.S. had just come out on top after a World War and over the decades Europe and Japan caught up.

        Still, I think that our deteriorating moral standards have hurt the nation as a whole. When I was a kid, even suggesting that someone had premarital sex would have been an insult, but today that is considered mainstream behavior. Tens of millions of abortions later and we are not doing nearly as well as a nation. It’s a sad state of affairs.


  • Linda Sorci

    Howard Johnson’s – what a family-oriented place it was, no matter where it happened to be. We had one not far from our home where we would go for lunch on occasion. I remember the cozy atmosphere. When my dad brought us to the World’s Fair in New York City in 1965, we stayed at a Howard Johnson’s just over the bridge in New Jersey.

    And I, too, remember the pistachio ice cream 🙂

    Those were the days. – sigh.


  • marlene

    Ah yes… As teenagers, we’d meet at the bowling alley, with the rest of our friends, mostly from school, some from other neighborhoods. Then some of us, including myself, would go to HoJo’s for burgers and malts and socializing; while others went to the Arboretum to make out. Those were the days – safe, fun, and loads of friends, many with cars, very few smokers, no drugs, no drunks, no fights… Ah, yes…


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