Showing posts with label Fast Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fast Food. Show all posts

5 Things I Miss About Going to McDonalds in the 90s

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

McDonald's recently ran a "Walt Disney World" Happy Meal promotion that celebrated a new ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios down in Orlando, Florida.  Each of the ten toys represented a different ride, like Minnie on a Pirate Ship (Pirates of the Caribbean) or Mickey in a Rocket Ship (Space Mountain.)  My daughter is a GIANT Mickey Mouse fan, so we, of course, had to get her a few of these toys. 
My wife and I have so many fond memories of visiting McDonald's during our childhoods, so we thought it would be fun for our daughter, even if she likely won't remember it.  Aside from the 40th Anniversary Happy Meal from 2019 (READ ABOUT IT HERE), we both haven't had a Happy Meal in decades, and since our little one is too young to eat the food yet, the meals were for us, and the toy was for her.  

We had a blast on our little adventure in search of Mickey toys.  On that Saturday, when she wouldn't take a nap, we threw her in the car (a sure-fire nap) and hit up about 8 local McDonald's in search of some of the ten toys.  We asked before ordering to find out what toy they had available and found out that only 4 of the ten were only available and we'd have to wait a week for the rest.  
The toys included tickets to enter a contest to win a trip to Disney, but due to COVID, the whole promotion was delayed several months, and the dates on the ticket were wrong.  Avoiding legal issues, Disney pulled the toys with the promise to remove the tickets before re-releasing them.  A week later, the toys returned for only two or three days before McDonald's canceled the Disney World promotion due to their next toy contract's hard start date.  The story has a happy ending, though, as Grandpa found them on eBay and made sure she has a full set for when she's older. 
Back in the 90s, McDonald's was such a large part of my childhood memories, and I'm sure for many of you, as well.  We didn't go very often, just the occasional Saturday afternoon when my Mom was looking to get out of the house.  Most often, it would be when she'd pick me up after half-day Kindergarten, and once her errands were complete, we'd stop at McDonald's on the way home.
That excursion for our daughter's Walt Disney toys really got me thinking about the 90s and how much fun we as kids had on our trips to the Golden Arches, so, without spoiling all my fun memories, here are 5 things I miss about McDonald's of the 90s!

Restaurants of YesterYear: The Ponderosa and Bonanza Steak House

Monday, July 27, 2020

After the first airline I flew for went out of business, I found myself flying for US Airways Express.  We flew Saab 340 aircraft around the northeastern United States, and one of the overnights we made at the airline was in Plattsburgh, New York.  As lame as a Plattsburgh overnight may sound, it was highly sought after by us pilots.  My brother lives close by, so I always enjoyed getting to see him for a few hours while being paid to be there!

But for everyone else, it was highly sought after because most of the places we stayed in were some run down off-brand motel like the Presque Isle Inn (Presque Isle, Maine) Martha's Vineyard Campground (CAMPGROUND!) or the Beckley Motor Inn (Beckley, WV.)  By the way, Presque Isle is not an island.  It's as far north in Maine as you can go, and you can drive south and still hit Canada.

In Plattsburgh, however, we stayed in a brand new Hampton Inn on the main drag.  There was an Applebees, a few sports bars, some shopping... and directly next door was a Ponderosa buffet.


I mean, who doesn't love a buffet?

The Captain I flew with frequently at the time, Matt, would always say "See you in 5 minutes" during check-in, and that would be code for I'll be at the Ponderosa as soon as I can take off my uniform and run across the parking lot.

So here for the latest installment of "Retro Restaurants," we'll take a deeper dive into The Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouse buffets!  You can't tell The Ponderosa Steakhouse story, however, without mentioning it's sister, The Bonanza Steakhouse.  The two restaurants started separately with similar themes and menus but eventually became one and the same.

Fast Food of YesterYear: Roy Rogers

Monday, May 11, 2020

I'm sure I've mentioned before that I grew up next door to my Grandparents.  When I was very young, we would have weekly Sunday dinners at their house after coming home from church.  It was a late lunch really, but my Grandma would always roast a turkey, beef, or ham in the oven while we were at church and come home and make all of the side dishes.  While I was little, I really enjoyed these meals as the family would get together, and, as the youngest, the attention would mostly be focused on me!  Plus, Grandma would always make me my own special dessert because she knew I didn't like the "pun'kin" pie she would often make!  She'd whip up a chocolate pudding pie in a Keebler mini graham cracker crust, and it would be all mine.

As we grew, my brother and I started playing ice hockey, and we'd spend more and more of our Sunday afternoons at the ice rink instead of home.  Eventually, the formal Sunday dinners went by the wayside.  Now that I'm older, I can see how having forced family time with people you spent all morning with at church could get old fast.  We'd spend all morning at church, come home and wait in Granny's living room for dinner to be ready.  Then, we'd have to stall while we waited for my one Uncle who is late to everything.  Honestly, we told him lunch was at 1 just so we could eat before 2.

The 3-course meal would then, of course, be followed by the move BACK to the living room where everyone would talk before drifting away to whatever hours of daylight were left.  It was all delightful 1950s Andy Griffith meets the Walton's... but it was very time-consuming.


Don't get me wrong, that side of my family is pretty WASPY, but I'm quite proud of it.  My ancestors arrived in the 1600s, so folksy Americana tradition is ingrained in the family.  By the 1990s, though, like most of the country, my family didn't have much time for tradition.  When those Sunday dinners ended, one of the side effects caused one of the real true joys of my childhood... visiting Roy Rogers for lunch after church!  Instead of heading home or to the ice rink, we began stopping at Roy's once or twice a month, and my brother and I just loved it there.

I think the french fries at Roy's are my favorite fast-food french fries of all time.  They were always hot, crispy, and loaded with salt.  The burger bun was thick that wonderfully blended freshness with staleness.  To this day, the Fixin's Bar is the only place I ever really enjoyed eating chopped onions.  When we walked in with our parents, the smell of salt and deep-fried oil hung heavy in the air... it was fast-food heaven for 8 year old me.

Fast Food of YesterYear: Kenny Roger's Roasters

Monday, April 27, 2020

During the Corona Virus apocalypse, we all need a good laugh.  So when I saw a meme that made me laugh so hard, I stopped what I was doing and just HAD to show it to my wife.  Why show it to my wife?  My wife is a much larger country music fan than I am.  She grew up a fan of classic country and even enjoys the modern version that sounds more like dance club "auto-tune" pop music than country.  I only really know the biggest hits of the genre, and of course, that includes several from "The Gambler" himself, Mr. Kenny Rogers.

This meme (excuse the language, kids) inspired me to relive some memories and write this article.


Unfortunately, Kenny passed away recently on March 20, 2020.  I didn't want this to be one of the millions of articles that read like a biography for Kenny.  I'd rather it focus on something nearly all of us nostalgia nerds love... the fast-food restaurants of yesteryear.


So here is the story of Kenny Rogers' Roasters!