Eating on the Interstates

Howard Johnson’s

As you motor down the interstate highway these days, you are presented with a plethora of options as to what you will eat. The fast food joints have spread nationwide, and have located themselves in the middle of nowhere so that you are never more than a few miles away from a McDonalds, Burger King, or Taco Bell. There are also dozens of higher-end chains like Applebee’s, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, etc. which have located themselves in smaller towns with interstate highways passing through them.

What it amounts to is that you can get pretty much anything you want to eat, from bar-b-que to Mexican to Italian to Seafood to vegetarian, as you traverse I-40 or I-90 from the east coast to the west, and all points in between.

But jump back to the 60’s, and your choices weren’t nearly so plentiful.


What I remember were three places where dad would stop while on the road: Howard Johnson’s, Stuckey’s, and Nickerson Farms.

The restaurants were similar. They offered food and a gift shop, and sometimes gasoline. HoJo’s offered a place to sleep, in many cases, and today that is their primary focus. Nickerson Farms had no motel connections, and has slipped into oblivion. Stuckey’s is hanging on for dear life as a convenience store.

Nickerson Farms post card

I wish I could remember how delicious the food was at the familiar establishments, but with all honesty, I can’t. In all fairness to the chains, I wasn’t much of an eater in the 60’s. It seemed that most food didn’t appeal to me (except for candy, of course!). I could usually handle a hot dog under any circumstances, but I recall at least one of the three bringing me the humble frankfurter out on some sort of toasted bun that was like a rectangle, with thick squared-off edges. What a travesty!

Heck it was probably ten times better than a regular dog, but I found it unfamiliar enough to be naturally unappealing.

But the eateries were everywhere, and you could always count on finding one of the three every few miles, no matter where you were.

Today, you can hold out for sushi if you like. You’ll probably encounter an establishment offering the finest raw fish within a few miles. But go back to interstate highway travel of the 60’s, and your choices were much more limited, and quite similar to each other.

One thought on “Eating on the Interstates”

  1. I can’t tell you how much those memories of Stuckey’s and Nickerson Farms mean to me! I could just sit and cry if it would bring those days back. Although I was a big Stuckey’s fan, begging Dad to stop at EVERY Stuckey’s, my fondest memories are actually of Nickerson Farms. I only recall eating there maybe twice in my lifetime, but it felt like it was my own private oasis.

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