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Prexy's burgers

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  • marco Feb 11, 2005 01:48 PM
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If anyone remebers this chain of great tasting burgers.......last seen around the late 70's.

What ingrdient did they contain that gave them that unusual, great taste. it could not have been just the meat.

Anyone know...please help....or do you know what happened to defunct the chain.

Marco

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  1. I miss them, too. After I moved to NYC in 1966, one of my first jobs was in the reservations office at the Plaza Hotel. Prexy's was right next door on Central Park South and that's where I ate my lunch every single day - a Prexy Burger with fries and a side of cole slaw. I've never had a better hamburger or better slaw. I didn't understand their slogan though: "Prexy Burger - The hamburger with a College Education." What the heck did that signify?

    18 Replies
    1. re: Deenso

      There used to be one on the East Side - I think on Lex in the low 70s. I ate lunch there many times in 69/70 when I was a senior at Hunter HS...in fact there's a candid in our yearbook of me chowing down on one of their burgers!

      They were terrific! And I have no idea what the slogan meant...

      Chris

      1. re: chrisonli

        They definitely had their first store on Broadway and about 115th Street and the slogan was due to to their being there. I remember them when I started Columbia in 1963.

        Perhaps Columbia has a neighborhood historian or some such who could tell us more.

        1. re: Bill

          I still want to know what was the special ingredient.

          Boy, would I love to recapture that great taste.

          Marco

        2. re: chrisonli

          Three on Lex- 41st, 61st, and 72nd, and later 86th off Lex

        3. re: Deenso

          The slogan must have come from their flagship store which was located on 116th st and Bway....COLUMBIA U.....therefore the college education.

          Last location I ate them was 86th and Lex.....in the late 70 's

          But what was the ingredient that made them so special?,,,,puzzling.

          They were truly the BEST EVER.

          Somebody help....or better yet, bring them back.

          I'd come in all the way from PA where I live now....just for one.

          marco

          1. re: Deenso

            I don't know how commonly it's used, but 'prexy' is slang for the president or top administrative officer of a college or university. That still doesn't make it a good slogan, so I hope there's a better explanation (maybe the Columbia U. one).

            1. re: SuzyInChains

              My father started the bus. in 1942, he spent the better part of a year in a laboratory in Chicago testing different ingredients. A friend of his said "by the time your done with this hamburger its going to have a college education". With that he named it Prexy's(pres. of a college) and the slogan became "the hamburger with a college education."
              It had nothing to do with the Columbia store location, but that was a good guess....

              1. re: Randy E.

                Do you know what was the ingredient that gave the Burger such an unusual and wonderful taste.....This will bother me forever.....It was the best and I can't can't get it out my head....please help if you know....marco714

                1. re: Randy E.

                  Hi Randy ... my name is Joan Salm. My husband, Guenther, and I, used to go soaring with your dad at Wurtsboro. We just came across some early movies we took of you and your dad and us at Wurtsboro. We once went up in a sailplane and left our daughter, then less than a year old, in our car with you and your dad looking after her while we took a spin in a Schweitzer 2-33? That would be frowned on today, indeed. Anyway, Prexy's (at 86th and Lex) was a wonderful institution. Sorry it and it's secret recipe doesn't exist today. Do you know the secret?

              2. re: Deenso

                YEA-I ATE AT THAT SAME PREXY'S ON 59 ST. MANY TIMES. THE THING I REMEMBER BEST WAS THEIR STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE WITH THE SOFT ICE CREAM. TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION ABOUT THE SLOGAN "HAMBURGER WITH A COLLEGE EDUCATION" ALL PREXY FRANCHISE OWNERS WERE REQUIRED TO ATTEND HAMBURGER COLLEGE WHERE THEY RECEIVED A DIPLOMA THAT WAS PROUDLY DISPLAYED AT EACH STORE. HENCE THE HAMBURGER WITH THE COLLEGE EDUCATION. IT WAS A GREAT PLACE TO ENJOY A BURGER OR STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE.

                1. re: HUEY

                  I'm happy to hear that the great name
                  Prexy's is still alive and well. That happened to
                  be my fathers business. I hope you enjoyed them...they, truly, were the best.

                  Sincerely, Bill E.

                  1. re: w.e.

                    Do you know what was the ingredient that gave the Burger such an unusual and wonderful taste.....This will bother me forever.....It was the best and I can't can't get it out my head....please help if you know....marco714

                  2. re: HUEY

                    I ate at Prexy's near Columbia University when I was going to Barnard college. To this day, I think thier hamburgers wre the best I have ever tasted and wonder how they made them. any ideas?

                  3. re: Deenso

                    E-mail me sometime. I'll tell you the real
                    meaning of the slogan. That was my dad's...

                    Sincerely,
                    Bill E

                    1. re: w.e.

                      Do you know what was the ingredient that gave the Burger such an unusual and wonderful taste.....This will bother me forever.....It was the best and I can't can't get it out my head....please help if you know....marco714....please reply

                      1. re: w.e.

                        I think it was your father who my father and his partners purchased the chain from in the mid sixties- I met your dad-

                      2. re: Deenso

                        That was indeed a great burger. Can anyone furnish me the logo ??

                        1. re: Deenso

                          There was one about a block from Columbia University. It may have been the first one. Loved it

                        2. s
                          sing me a bar

                          OMIGOD! You're killin' me with nostalgia. There used to be a Prexy's where 6th Ave crosses 8th St on the West side of the avenue. I was a kid..there was a Prexy's next to what now is, I believe, Go Sushi. I often stare out the window of Go remembering Prexy's, the burger with a college education. The sign had a burger with a graduation hat on! They had those old ketchup containers shaped like a large tomato. Chock Full O' Nuts was also nearby serving amazing cream cheese on datebread and EPIC chocolate milk. Prexy's was the best! The original Balducci's was next door.They were family friends..it was another world...There was a Howard Johnson's around the corner doling out huge cones shaped like a dunce cap.

                          1. I grew up on Prexy burgers, as I lived on Central Park South in the 60's. Simply the best burger that I ever tasted. Would love to know what the secret ingredent was and if there are any remaining stores in the US. Thanks to all for bringing back a lovely memory. ct@terrisgolf.com

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: terrisgolf

                              I wrote the following to the guys who said it was their father's business

                              ".......Do you know what was the ingredient that gave the Burger such an unusual and wonderful taste.....This will bother me forever.....It was the best and I can't can't get it out my head....please help if you know"....marco714

                              I can't ever stop searching for that taste....It's gone but never forgotten....if you ever get the answer, please email me.....I'd buy a thousand of them now...or make a thousand if I knew the ingredient......Marco714

                            2. Arggggg!!! The son of the owner's responds....the father is in the lab in Chicago testing....testing what??? Obviously secret ingredients!!! It could not be the beef. You wouldn't do that in a lab, you'd do that in a kitchen. Finally: EUREKA!!! The perfect taste is achieved. "They said I was mad.... they said I was C-R-AaaaZY!! I'll show them, I'll show them all!" But do we get word of this secret ingredient? Nope. I too mourn Prexy's, where my dad would take me. 6th Ave. And Chock Full O' Nuts. And the big HoJo's on 6th Ave and Greenwich. When it became some sort of music place my sense of loss was total. Well, maybe the ticket is to hunt up former Prexy's employees. Before they all die!

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: SkipChurch

                                I didn't read the part about the Lab so literally, it seemed more like an expression.

                                Knowing the era, I would take a wild guess it was a common boxed ingredient used to jazz up some cooking, and start there. Maybe you'll find your own genius combo.

                                1. re: sugartoof

                                  ....You mean something like Adolph's meat tenderizer or Lawry's salt......?

                                  Regardless.....I've been searching for the best burger for all these...to no avail.....prexy's is one my strongest childhood memories...along with Cake Masters Seven Layer cake slices

                                  1. re: marco714

                                    Those weren't my guesses, but....maybe?

                                    I was taking a wild guess along the lines of something a college student might reach for that lends itself towards burgers. Have you tried Liptons onion soup mix in a burger?

                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                      Oh I'm convinced that the secret ingredient was something worth keeping secret. In the movie version, competing groups seek a lead on the ingredient. The good guys (us) discover that an 86 year old Prexy's fry chef is living in Rye NY in an abandoned amusement park. But the bad guys (evil McGigantic Burgers Corp, and also PETA fanatics) are out to stop us from getting the secret at all costs! Fueled by replica dishes of tiny and overpriced vanilla ice cream from Rumplemeyer's, we battle for truth, justice, and the American burger!

                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                        I have used Lipton's many times....it surely wasn't that.......The burger was a plain patty.......no visible additions or filling....just a great, unusual and never duplicated taste.

                                        1. re: marco714

                                          I remember Prexy's from my childhood. I thought the sign was so funny. Could there have been one in the east 30s? Near the Chock full o' Nuts on Madison? Or am I conflating?

                                          In any case, Arthur (Food Maven) Schwartz might have a lead on the solution. He wrote a wonderful book on New York food.

                                2. The 6th and Greenwich Prexy's was a hamburger joint named Burger Train before it was Prexy's. The food came out of the kitchen on a Lionel train set. I loved it. Prexy's took over, got rid of the train, and added MSG to their burgers. I loved it too. Nedick's and Whelan's were across the street, and the adjacent newsstand sold The Herald, The Tribune, The Telegram and The Sun, among others!

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: VillageBrat

                                    MSG use in the 60's wasn't unheard of, and it had already made it's way into factory made foods, but that would have still been unusual for the time period. Cooking with soy sauce would have been as cutting edge as it gets, and there wasn't much knowledge of using MSG as a secret ingredient yet. It seems unlikely.

                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                      That is why the originator spent a year in a college LABORATORY - not a college dining common, searching for his holy grail; for there he learned of a new food flavor enhancer: MSG. A product of a college chemistry lab created an unforgettable flavor, AND a name!!! PREXY'S!!!!

                                      1. re: VillageBrat

                                        Not buying it.

                                        Feel free to pour MSG powder in your burger and see if it replicates the taste for you though.

                                  2. I was a waitress at Prexy's in the late 60's. 8th street and 6th ave and the one next to the Plaza. Summer job as a college student, the summer of Woodstock, I quit so I could go to the festival. Richie Havens often came into the 6th ave location because it was across the street from Electric Ladyland Studios. And the Plaza location was a photographer's dream of elderly men and women, dressed to the max, sitting at the counter.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: calendula132

                                      Oh you're taking me back! That summer I was working at a "hippie jewelry store" called Jambangle on St Mark's Pl just down the block from the Electric Circus and a couple of blocks from the Fillmore East. A trippy time was had by all!

                                      1. re: calendula132

                                        Electric Ladyland Studios was a bit further east on 8th St. (1/2 block?). It had been previously a club called The Underground, which was the first place Janis and the Holding Company (Big Brother and the Holding Company) first played in NYC- I was there and actually had a chance meeting with JJ after the last set.

                                        1. re: calendula132

                                          In the late 60's ? We probably met- see my posting above.

                                          1. re: lectric1e

                                            Yeah, summer of 1969. My shop Jambangle was next to Britain Leather East on the north side of St Marks Pl, right across from Gem Spa, which was and is on the opposite corner. Gem Spa was famous for egg creams and a weird but delicious "lime rickey" which I think was actually red. Also of gustatory note was the B&H Dairy Lunch, where I ate my lunch every day: vegetable liver on black bread, or maybe mushroom barley soup and rye bread with a schmear of cream cheese.

                                        2. My father was one of the owners of the chain from the mid-sixties until they closed up (and sold off the underlying real estate for those locations which were owned) in, I believe, 1973. While in college I occasionally worked at various locations, including the central commissary (first on E 44th St. and later in Greenpoint in Brooklyn). The real secret was, first of all high quality meat. There was a 'special' spice formula that was added. Prexy's was also the first source for KFC chicken in NYC. It was prepared in the commissary and trucked around in hot-boxes to the various locations in a Volvo PV-544 Station Wagon all done up with the logo.The Colonel actually came in to certify that the chicken was being prepared per his formula (the spices were licensed, secret and purchased from him) and method (pressure fried). We all went out to dinner together to celebrate the arrival of KFC in NYC, he WAS quite an interesting character.
                                          The three bean salad and cole slaw were quite exceptional as well. Several of the locations had char broilers (an early adaption).
                                          Another interesting aspect was the the computerization of the checks (which were actually punch cards, and were marked with soft #2 pencils carrying the Prexy's logo) The cards were collected daily and run to track inventory, sales and margins. This was a project that I was very involved with with and I still have a couple of boxes of the Prexy's logo pencils!
                                          The Prexy's Hamburger remains one of the best I've ever enjoyed, and that includes a very broad sampling of the very best.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: lectric1e

                                            The question remains....What are the ingredients in the special spice formula.

                                            1. re: marco714

                                              The fact is that MSG was well known in restaurant circles as long as I can remember (back in the early fifties, I remember my father referring to it as "Chinese cooking powder").While it might have been one of the components, the 'special spice formulation'was much more complex and the quality of the beef played a major role in the finished product (I remember discussions of quality vs. margins, in which quality always won out).

                                          2. MSG, I maintain, in my taste bud's humble opinion, was of all, the key ingredient that gave a Prexy's hamburger a name and a taste often emulated, never duplicated. The secret was found from laboratory research contemporaneous with the emergence of new artificial chemical flavor enhancers, considered brand new and cutting edge; it was not widely yet used by American chefs, making it new and exciting; and the whole shebang was named after the abbreviation for a college president: hence the slogan, the name, and the flavor.
                                            I ate at the 8th and Greenwich Prexy's from the day it opened 'til the day it closed. I was there before it was Prexy's. So was Orson Bean. He lived around the corner in MacDougal Alley, and loved Prexy's too! But I digress. For I further purport that the later release of studies showing MSG to be the culprit behind the dreaded "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" was contemporaneous with, and directly related to, the closing of Prexy's, RIP.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: VillageBrat

                                              "the emergence of new artificial chemical flavor enhancers, considered brand new and cutting edge"

                                              The awareness of what was called "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" happened in the 60's, but public awareness of MSG itself wasn't until much, much later. The "No MSG" signs popped up in the 80's.

                                              MSG had been around for around 60 years, but using it outside of Asian cooking was unheard of accept in chemically engineered mass produced foods, and there was already a small movement opposing that.

                                              As far as myth making goes, this misses the mark.

                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                "MSG had been around for 60 years, but using it outside of Asian cooking was unheard of accept "[sic]" in chemically engineered mass produced foods.........."

                                                And that is precisely why the introduction of this flavor into a hamburger in Manhattan in the 1960s created such a passion!

                                                1. re: VillageBrat

                                                  MSG (which stands for monosodium glutimate) has been used in east Asian cooking for well over a hundred years. To the best of my recollection, it was a minor component of the spice package used in Prexy's hamburgers. As I said in my original post, the quality of the meat was the real secret ingredient and was unusual at the time. I can assure you that the so-called "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" (which has been debunked in double-blind placebo-controlled experimental testing) had absolutely NOTHING to do with the demise of Prexy's.

                                              2. re: VillageBrat

                                                I managed the 8th St. Prexy's (while in college) the summer before it closed- see my original posting.

                                              3. My dad, now aged 90, found it amazing and warming that the Prexy's name and product should still be a subject of discussion- thank you all.

                                                 
                                                 
                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: lectric1e

                                                  Wish him well for us all, and make sure you get the recipe that's sparked all this discussion.

                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                    Mazeltov!