Saturday, October 10, 2009

Johnny Rockets

There is something about 1950s and early 1960s nostalgia that is so hard resist in American culture. We would like to believe that life was somehow better back then—it was a simpler time where all of life’s problems could be solved by a trip to the local malt shop, the Beatles just wanted to hold your hand, suburbia was growing, and the peaceable kingdom of television was entering everyone’s homes, spreading the message of a "Leave it to Beaver" philosophy.

We know realistically that this era was not all jukeboxes, burgers, and milkshakes, but it is still nice to imagine it that way. Johnny Rockets is the perfect restaurant to do just that. Although the first Johnny Rockets opened in 1986, the restaurants are themed with a 1950s malt-shop vibe. They describe themselves as providing “food, fun, and friendliness reminiscent of feel-good Americana.”

I recently visited a Johnny Rockets for the first time. The d├ęcor was exactly the way that the 1950s are in my imagination. There are classic coca-cola posters on the wall, shiny chrome surfaces, smooth white walls, and even a mini juke box on every table. And the music was wonderful—Elvis was playing when we entered and the Supremes were playing on the way out. I periodically was distracted from my food because I was too busy singing along to classic oldies.
I was there with my boyfriend, and I really felt like Sandy in the movie Grease going on a date with Danny Zuko. I had the Original hamburger with cheddar cheese added—it came with lettuce, tomato, chopped onions, relish, pickles, mustard, and mayonnaise. Of course, I got fries to accompany the burger, and the waitress brought out ketchup and squirted it out in a smiley face shape into a little dish. My boyfriend got the Bacon Cheddar Single burger, which came topped with thick bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion slice, and special sauce. He also got fries, and we both ordered a root-beer float with big scoops of vanilla ice-cream.

It’s amazing how nostalgic we can be at times for eras that we never actually experienced, and even people who were alive in those periods can fabricate memories that highlight the good times and eliminate the bad. Johnny Rockets is emblematic of our imagined version of 1950s America. If you are looking for a classic burger and fries meal, then take a little escape into the past at Johnny Rockets. You can check out their Web site, view the menu, and find a location near you here:

Even though this song has nothing to do with food, let’s keep traveling down memory lane with a little summer lovin’…

Johnny Rockets on Urbanspoon

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