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Chock full o'Nuts -- Question for New Yorkers

Is it my imagination, or is Chock full o'Nuts not as good a coffee as it was 20 years ago?
I used to buy it in the 1980s, the Original version, ground, in the can, and it was about the best coffee we could find. I wondered what made it different, and upon close inspection noticed that the beans were actually shredded into fine, long particles rather than ground into little round bits. That was the only remarkable difference I noticed.

From about a year ago we started seeing Chock full o'Nuts in our local supermarket. I notice now the brand is owned by Sara Lee, so it's not possible not to like it, right? What I've found is that the flavor is a pale comparison to its previous glory.

Either that, or my taste in coffee has somehow become more refined over the years.

Any comments?

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  1. It's the best coffee a millionaire's money can't buy!

    (Couldn't resist. I haven't had any since my grandmother used to make it for me when I was a kid in the 1970s...)

    1. in the annals of coffee history there was Starbucks before and after.

      1 Reply
      1. re: byrd

        Coffee marketing, maybe. But for my money, Starbucks is lousy coffee. Roasted too much, then made weak, then hammered with all kinds of sweet garbage. It's dessert, if anything.

      2. I've been a huge Chock full o 'Nuts coffee for years. However, it's almost impossible to find here in the bay area. For awhile Trader Joe's had it but that's been a year or more ago.

        1. I agree with you, the taste has changed. I miss the old days. I've had surprising success with a brand called martinson's pretty widely available in NYC markets. in worst case scenario situations, I make espresso on the stovetop with Bustelo.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MaspethMaven

            my parents used to use chock full o' nuts then a long time ago, switched to martinson's. Now it's martinson's and sometimes 8 o'clock coffee.

          2. Before Nelson Rockefeller was elected governor of New York in 1958, the Chock Full O Nuts song ran, "better coffee a Rockefeller's money can't buy." That song was ubiquitous in NYC radio ads.

            But my favorite Chick Full O Nuts product was their delicious donuts -- small, crunchy coated, and spicy. Yummmmmm...wonder if those still exist?

            1 Reply
            1. re: ptrichmondmike

              ...and then they changed the words slightly and sang, "...better coffee a millionaire's money can't buy."

            2. Does Chock Full O Nuts still put that little measuring scooper in the can? I haven't bought it in a while and I lost/broke the last of my scoopers. They were the only company that still did last time I checked.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Leslie

                no, it has been a while since they put the scopper in the can...

              2. When I was a kid in Brooklyn, Martinson's and Chock Full o' Nuts were the premium coffee brands. My coffee tastes developed much later, so my memory may be faulty here, but I recall even Maxwell House and Savarin canned coffee, and the bags from A&P, being pretty good back then.

                My coffee geek friends tell me that all of these brands now use mainly crappy beans. I know Maxwell House is pretty bad, but I haven't had Chock Full in years. I do remember their great little donuts, cream cheese sandwiches, the aging owner's trophy wife, Jean, singing the millionaire song, and the stools precisely engineered to make the human ass hurt within 6 minutes.

                1. Is it possible that 20 years ago, we didn't know what really good coffee tasted like? Although Starbucks is NOT, in my opinion, among the best brands, they certainly have helped to raise the bar.

                  1 Reply
                  1. Without time travel we may never know. I would guess that buyers for a brand like Chocks find themselves ever more outbid for better beans by all the newer gourmet coffee sellers.

                    Even a gourmet coffee snob like me has to admit that fresh brewed Chocks, Martinsons, Melitta and probably some others do nicely in a pinch.

                    It is hard to say about Chocks but I do not need a time machine to know that Dunkin Donuts coffee, once fairly drinkable, has taken a scary downward turn. I am convinced they use their own distinctive artificial flavor on the most cheapass beans. Oh sure they get to call it call it "natural" flavor because it is not petroleum based but I say Yuck. Hard to believe they sell oceans of it but if all those drinkers are happy then I am glad they are not bidding up the price of good stuff.

                    1. Not owned by Sara Lee anymore http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chock_Fu...
                      http://www.italianmade.com/trade/rele... Dunno how that affects the coffee, though.

                      My favorite thing is watching the coffee drinkers at work leave the tap running so the water gets colder (starts out quite warm, there is a filter on the tap at least) and keep the coffee in the fridge...for a 3lb can of Maxwell House in a $20 drip machine. Sheesh.

                      1. I have this vague recollection that there used to be a chain of Chock Full O'Nuts restaurants in NYC. I'm talking late '60s or early '70s. Can anyone confirm?

                        5 Replies
                          1. re: ambrose

                            There was one in Southampton NY last year, but now it's Starbucks. http://www.chockfullonuts.com/cafe/lo...
                            It was bigger than these ones, and definitely had some food, I know they had date nut bread with cream cheese at least. There's a bunch of them around Long Island but I've never stopped in any, although I like their coffee for home.

                            1. re: coll

                              So they still exist, even in the city! I remember cream cheese and walnuts (?) on raisin bread. I had never had such an exotic sandwich (remember, we're talking 35+ years ago) back then and often made them at home in subsequent years.

                              1. re: ambrose

                                Date nut bread, actually. And, in that much less paranoid era, their other shtick was "hands never touch the food".

                            2. re: ambrose

                              I DO remember them -- and I also remember Horn & Hardart cafeterias.

                            3. I am really new to the Chowhound boards, and from PA, not NY, but I thought I would add my input. I love good coffee, espresso in particular, but when I am out of whole beans from the local roaster or I don't feel like espresso, I usually use Chock full O' Nuts or Martinsons. I am not sure if the quality has changed at all, but my grandparent's always used Chock or Martinsons and I still find them to have the most flavor of any of the canned varieties I have tried. It is just hard to find Chock in less than a 3lb can, so being a single coffee drinker, I cannot use it all before it goes stale and really does taste awful.
                              Martinsons, in the blue can/fine grind is also great for vacuum brewers, and produces a really smooth and rich cup if you do it right.
                              As much as I hate to admit it, I believe a previous poster was right in stating that Starbucks, as much as some coffee lovers discredit them, really has put an awareness of coffee in the general public that was not seen before. Either people continue to love Starbucks coffee, or it is not to their liking, and they seek out other sources. Just look at the profusion of high quality espresso machines and other brewing equipment now available to the consumer market.

                              1. Chock-Full-of-Nuts has definitely changed, and for the worse. We used it all the time years ago, and people used to comment on how good it was when we served it to them. For some reason, we started trying other brands, and ended up using Folger's, which we've used for years. Being thoroughly disgusted with the Folger's, we bought a new percolator, and tried another bag of CFoN. It was no better than the Folger's. Our latest bag was 8 O'Clock, which seems to be somewhat better.