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Memories of Howard Johnson's soda in cans

Sloth Aug 3, 2011 11:20 AM

While helping my parents digitize the family slides I noticed that many of the kids' parties in the late 60's/early 70's featured Howard Johnson's soda in cans.


My problem is that I see my younger self drinking this, but have no memory of it. Why was this our family's "go to" brand? Was it better or cheaper than other brands? Was it sold in stores or did you have to buy it from the restaurants (we had one nearby)? My parents can't seem to remember either, but we all remember going to the A & W to fill up the gallon jug with root beer from the tap. Maybe we just liked it because it was somehow special like that?

Did your family drink this brand and if so, why?

  1. srsone Aug 3, 2011 11:30 AM

    i remember going to hojos on the way to and from the beach ...
    i dont remember the soda either...
    i do remember the ice cream being really good..

    i only remember having either coke or r/c cola..and a store called the pop shoppe..which had refillable bottles...

    20 Replies
    1. re: srsone
      kattyeyes Aug 3, 2011 11:45 AM

      I vaguely remember The Pop Shoppe, too...and totally remember the stripey bottles, though I thought there was some guy with a mustache on the label. Maybe I'm mixing it up with the dude on the Pringles can. Check this out:

      Back to HoJos, I don't recall the soda whatsoever, but fondly remember their corn toastees, which were once available in the frozen foods section of the supermarket, but sadly, no more. I even tried to make my own toastees...I didn't master it, tho!

      Sloth, if I had to guess, it was probably a budget-friendly alternative to the bigger brands. Like Scrunchy cola was the Shop Rite brand, too. No, thank you, Scrunchy...I really wanted a Coke.

      1. re: kattyeyes
        srsone Aug 3, 2011 11:57 AM

        oh yeah.....forgot about the corn toasties.....
        and the chicken croquettes

        i thought i have seen the corn toasties at publix...

        and my mom used to get the big platter of clam strips

        and yes...r/c was at one side of the family and the coke was at the other side...one side lower middle class and the other more in the middle...

        1. re: srsone
          kattyeyes Aug 3, 2011 12:25 PM

          No fair re Publix! Please enjoy some for me.

          How funny--the class distinctions of soda. :)

          1. re: srsone
            ttoommyy Aug 4, 2011 07:03 AM

            This thread brings back great memories. I definitely remember the soda cans. Corn toasties, clam strips and chicken croquettes were my favorites, along with the HoJo hot dogs. I can't remember, did they have a special HoJo's name? I remember going to Howard Johnson's after making my first holy communion (around age 8) because it was my favorite restaurant. When we got there, it turned out that many other families had the same idea!

            1. re: ttoommyy
              Sloth Aug 4, 2011 08:49 AM

              I looked at some vintage menus online. The Pedigree was a hot dog with cheese and bacon. The Double Up & Take 2 was hot dogs served with pickles and chips. No special name for just a regular dog.

              1. re: Sloth
                ttoommyy Aug 4, 2011 10:22 AM

                Thanks Sloth. I do remember a hot dog with cheese and bacon but not that it was called The Pedigree. Cute.

          2. re: kattyeyes
            Sloth Aug 3, 2011 12:18 PM

            Kattyeyes, you're probably right about the budget factor, but I also remember Shasta brand in the house. Maybe Hojo's was the "one step up from Shasta" brand we used for parties.

            1. re: Sloth
              kattyeyes Aug 3, 2011 12:32 PM

              I remember Shasta, too. 'member Fanta? I must share--my friend and I ordered birch beer recently (I'm in CT) and I thought I'd ask whose soda it was since we have so many local soda companies. The waitress said something that started with an F (Foxon Park would be a local that fit the description) so I asked again...'cause it didn't really sound like "Foxon Park," nor did what she say sound at all familiar. She said, "It's FONN-tah"...all night long, I chuckled over it, "FONN-tah" like fancy for Fanta. Same as when people say "TarZHAY" for Target. HA HA!

              1. re: kattyeyes
                srsone Aug 3, 2011 01:02 PM

                i remember birch beer...clear...dont remember what brand we drank as a kid...

                and the pop shoppe we went to was in manchester,ct

                fanta is still around here in Florida
                orange,grape and strawberry

                next time im at publix ill have to get some corn toasties....

                1. re: srsone
                  kattyeyes Aug 3, 2011 01:19 PM

                  Yes, agree--birch beer should be clear. The Fanta folks added some sort of strange burgundy color. What do they know?

                  YES, that's right--on Spencer St. (what Silver Lane becomes in Manchester), right? I can picture the striped awning in my mind's eye. How funny! Small world. My grandparents lived down the street in EH. Hey, neighbor.

                  1. re: kattyeyes
                    bagelman01 Aug 3, 2011 01:53 PM


                    Here in CT Birch Beer is clear. In fact the Foxon Park label calls it white birch.

                    In Pennsylvania, Birch Beer and Cream soda were often red (I went to colloege in Phila 40 years ago). Frank's was the local brand in Phila.

                    In the 70s I was able to order cases of Red Cream Fanta soda from my Coca Cola distriibutor in New Haven.

                    I was in Duchess in Monroe last week and they have new soda dispensers from Coke. There are about 50+ varietaions of Coke brand products you can dispense including more than 7 Fanta varieties,

                    Growing upo in New Haven the big three independent soda brands were:

                    Cott, Lynbrook and Fozon Park.

                    As for RC, we only bought their Diet Rite Cola, the first on the market in the area, long before Tab or Diet Pepsi.

                    1. re: bagelman01
                      Sloth Aug 3, 2011 02:07 PM

                      Is RC the same as Royal Crown? I remember a fondness for that one because of the prizes in the bottlecaps.

                      1. re: bagelman01
                        kattyeyes Aug 3, 2011 02:14 PM

                        Cool info, bagelman. I think our Steady Habits birch beer formula makes the best sense. A birch is white, after all. HA HA! Now I want one. Thanks a bunch--that should be a very nutritious (yet satisfying!) dinner: a chili dawg and a birch beer!

                        I remember Cott, too, and can hear the jingle: "Oh, it's got to be Cott to be good..." Don't recall Lynbrook, though. Never realized Coke owned Fanta. I always kinda thought of it as a discount brand. Guess not!

                        1. re: kattyeyes
                          bagelman01 Aug 4, 2011 05:20 AM


                          Cott and Lynbrook were New Haven companies. I went to school with kids from both families. Cott in the US was later bought by Coca Cola and certain flavors are still marketed in greater NY. Growing up, Cott Pale Dry Ginger Ave was about the only soda kept in our home. Another branch of the Cott family also operated in Ontario and Quebec and continued to produce into the 90s, I don't know if it still exists.

                          Lynbrook was a staple of many New Haven Apizza parlors and mom and pop groceries. I remeber that the caps on the cream soda were a light blue color.

                          This was all back in the days of a 2 cent deposit on 12 ounce bottles and a dime on quarts. Long before anyone ever saw a 64oz bottle.

                          1. re: bagelman01
                            goddessofDEATH Aug 7, 2011 05:34 PM

                            COTT does still Exist here in Ontario. They sell it at Avondale :-)

                      2. re: kattyeyes
                        srsone Aug 3, 2011 02:50 PM

                        yes....just over the 384 bridge...in front of the edwards and kmart iirc

                        i remember that jingle too...
                        cott ginger ale when u add a upset stomach...

                        fanta actually started in germany during ww2...when coke got cut off from the bottler in germany..they invented fanta orange drink...and they kept the company out of the control of the nazi's
                        after the war then coke started making it everywhere else

                        we got a Ct reunion going on .....

                        1. re: srsone
                          Veggo Aug 7, 2011 05:05 PM

                          I was a brand manager for Cott in the late 70's. The Cott brothers sold out to J. B. Fuqua from Atlanta, who in turn sold the company to National Industries in Feb. 1978.

                          Cott had a gazillion flavors, and specialized in mixers and flavored sodas for the hispanic market around Bridgeport, where strawberry and pineapple soda were big sellers. Cott also bottled Clicquot Club (remember that one?) , which was distributed mainly in Mass. and the Cape. It also distributed Yoo-Hoo milk based beverage, and Perrier water, throughout New England and parts of eastern NY state. In the end, they had too many flavors and bottle sizes to be competitive with the big boys. Their ginger ale was good, but Diamond was the regional brand of the day. During the summer cola wars, Coke and Pepsi retailed for less than our cost to make cola.

                          The only easy part was the Perrier. Twice a year a few french guys in fancy suits came to thank us profusely for our extraordinary marketing penetration, but the simple truth was the phone rang off the wall from new accounts and they couldn't ship us enough of the stuff. Factoid: European soft drink and beer bottles sold in America are not twist off because too many explode crossing the Atlantic, at least back then.

                          Cott, HoJo, and Dunkin Donuts were exclusively northeast brands in their day.

                          1. re: Veggo
                            bagelman01 Aug 7, 2011 08:19 PM

                            and of course in our area there was also Mission Brand. I remeber in the early 60s their Orange was the only soda available for Passover.
                            Pepsi had a bottling plant in Hamden owned by friends of mine and Coke was bottled on Middletyown Ave in New Haven, which later became Railroad Salvage.
                            Foxon Park is the last bottler in the New Haven area

                            1. re: Veggo
                              srsone Aug 14, 2011 05:15 PM

                              found this at the local crackerbarrel.....

                      3. re: kattyeyes
                        chocolatetartguy Aug 9, 2011 04:42 PM

                        Although I prefer their root beer, Sioux City makes a nice birch beer. I had it outside of Cleveland and then came home to Berkeley to find it at the local BevMo.

                2. l
                  Leslie Aug 3, 2011 02:34 PM

                  I worked at HoJo's during the early 70's. I don't remember canned HoJo soda, but I do recall that when customers ordered a Coke, we had to tell them that we served HoJo Cola. Many times, the customer would order something else in instead, such as a root beer or an orange drink which I don't think was carbonated.

                  1. Sloth Aug 7, 2011 12:30 PM

                    Here's one of the photos that started me thinking. Observe the HoJo's cola, milk in a bottle, Welch's jelly jar glasses with Archie, a cake made from scratch, etc. God I'm old (used to be the kid on the right).

                    25 Replies
                    1. re: Sloth
                      kattyeyes Aug 7, 2011 03:31 PM

                      I love it!!! :) I remember those Welch's jelly jar glasses, too! We didn't have a dishwasher, but my uncle did...so eventually, the jelly jar images at his house kinda ghosted away after being washed over and over! Remember the ones for Armour (?) dried beef, too--glass jars with stars around the top for easy reuse? So cool you shared the photo with us!

                      1. re: kattyeyes
                        srsone Aug 7, 2011 03:58 PM

                        or the glasses from mcdonalds...

                        we r old.......

                        1. re: srsone
                          bagelman01 Aug 7, 2011 04:09 PM

                          But not as old as some of us....................

                          The HoJo cola cans are the original style of pop top lids, the ring actually pulled off a piece of metal that had to be discarded and easilly cut many youngsters.

                          I remember soda cans that required a can opener (churchkey) to open.

                          1. re: bagelman01
                            srsone Aug 7, 2011 05:23 PM

                            i remember those vaguely from when i was real little..and that they were being phased out...mostly i remember my dad saying people would pull the tab off...then put it in the can and choke on it when they were drinking whichever beverage it was...(mostly beer)

                            the only opener i use nowadays is on the occasional IBC rootbeer bottle

                          2. re: srsone
                            kattyeyes Aug 8, 2011 04:53 AM

                            HA HA, yes! I was thinking of those, too--with so many of the characters that have faded away since our 70s childhoods: The Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese, The Grimace, The Fry Guys!

                        2. re: Sloth
                          ttoommyy Aug 8, 2011 11:24 AM

                          My god that picture brings back such memories. Right down to the vinyl tablecloth and that kean shirt you are wearing. :) We must have grown up around the same time Sloth.

                          1. re: ttoommyy
                            Sloth Aug 8, 2011 01:20 PM

                            Born in '62, coming up on the big 5-0. Everyone keeps telling me that 50 is the new 30, but I don't think certain body parts got the message.

                            1. re: Sloth
                              ttoommyy Aug 8, 2011 02:28 PM

                              1961 for me. I turned 50 this past February. My body parts got the message that I turned 80! I have to admit, I love being 50 otherwise. I don't look it so all the "kids" here at work love to hang around with me and I can regale them with my stories of life in the "old days"...the 1980s. Plus, being 50 gives me the excuse to be ornery at times and say, "Deal with it...I'm old!"

                              1. re: ttoommyy
                                srsone Aug 8, 2011 03:25 PM

                                i was in high school in the 80s...........

                                50 is still a way off

                                i dont remember the cans of soda at all......
                                when did they stop them?

                                did a little googling...

                                found this


                                doesnt mention the soda much tho

                                1. re: srsone
                                  Sloth Aug 9, 2011 09:30 AM

                                  I saw that website when I first started looking for answers, but this time I tried sending them an email. I'll share if I ever get an answer.

                                  1. re: Sloth
                                    srsone Aug 9, 2011 03:16 PM

                                    i also saw a report about coca cola suing them in 1976 i think it was...
                                    about hojo misleading people when they ask for a coke and getting hojo cola instead...

                                    which is probably why Leslie had to say that they had hojo cola...

                                  2. re: srsone
                                    jcmods Aug 15, 2011 01:52 PM

                                    Oh Man, I remember when the HoJos Times Square closed. Another casualty of the "Disneyfication" of Times Square. Anyway, you can probably see it in films like Basket Case and Taxi Driver. However, I have always wanted to go to the "Tiki" Howard Johnson's lin Lake George. It's one of three left.

                              2. re: ttoommyy
                                jcmods Aug 12, 2011 07:11 AM

                                Yep, back when the Brady Bunch looked more like a serious documentary. But I do recall the Welch's jars and the Hamburglar. I later heard they were phased out because they were poisonous or something. (Like the lead washed off into your food). Anyway, we are sorta like the Boomers in Name Only. Just old enough to witness the Sixties (and to be mad that you missed it)....explains Punk Rock. The shirt is totally epic though. Speaking of RC Cola ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymwK-n...

                                1. re: jcmods
                                  kattyeyes Aug 12, 2011 07:23 AM

                                  Oh, dang, I thought for sure you were gonna post this (so now I must):
                                  "Everything's gonna be all right--with a RC Cola and a moon pie!"

                                  Nice to know we can explain away our brain damage from jelly jar glasses and the like! :P

                                  1. re: jcmods
                                    srsone Aug 12, 2011 08:03 PM

                                    baby boomers are from just after WW2..to the early 60s..64 or 65 i think...
                                    gen X is from the late 60s to the early 80s..
                                    gen Y is after that...from the mid 80s to 2000..
                                    then u have gen Z or also the internet generation..from 2000 on..

                                    1. re: srsone
                                      jcmods Aug 13, 2011 06:52 PM

                                      Then you get to start over at Gen A. Personally we all skipped the generations. My Dad was born 1932 (definitely not "The Greatest" Generation because he was 12 years old when WWII ended. I was born in 1961. Therefore, I "missed" the '60's. By the time I was 9 years old the 60's were gone but I knew all the songs (even thought I didn't realize it until I attended a Rock Convention at the Hotel Diplomat in 1978).
                                      I'm just saying there should be another "generation" for people born from 1956-1964. Old enough to remember the Beatles and the moon landing, but not be drafted.
                                      Or in CH terms, be the Sloth in that photo and remember HoJo cola.

                                      1. re: jcmods
                                        srsone Aug 13, 2011 07:45 PM

                                        yea there is grey areas...i guess my parents are early boomers...and im a earlyish gen x..
                                        i was born in 69 so i completely missed the 60s and thank god the 70s...
                                        i grew up listening to "classic rock" but i listen to alternative ..punk...ska..classical..jazz...dave brubeck ....

                                        i remember hojos...the ground round...the first atari..colecovision..wawa
                                        cumberland farms..cookie puss...didnt know the beatles until much later...after john was shot..i remember when howard was on wccc...and the wigmaster would wig out on friday..when sebastard got in trouble for blue money..and the volcano on avon mtn...the challenger blowing up..(watching it on tv in school)

                                        1. re: srsone
                                          kattyeyes Aug 14, 2011 05:21 AM

                                          And I remember when you could order a Big Beef Cheeseburger (on "set up toast," of course) at Friendly's RARE...and strawberry soda was on the menu. One of my favorite meals as a kiddo, and extra pickles with the sandwich, please.

                                          Let's not forget, either, when the pies were fried at Mickey D's. I still miss those damn fried pies. CAUTION: FILLING IS HOT.

                                          By the way, the Wigmaster still wigs out on Friday! 'cause you've gyotta...gyotta...gotta.gotta.gotta.gotta.Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig OUUUUUT!
                                          I never knew what he looked like till I searched for this clip. Gyotta love Wiggie.

                                          1. re: kattyeyes
                                            srsone Aug 14, 2011 06:50 AM

                                            the fried apple pies are still around...
                                            there is website that finds them...but doesnt look like its been updated very recently..
                                            Google --mcdonalds fried apple pie locator

                                            is he still on PLR?
                                            maybe i can get him online....

                                            1. re: srsone
                                              kattyeyes Aug 14, 2011 06:53 AM

                                              Ooh, really, just what I need...another friend to encourage my bad habits! ;) Thank you! I'm gonna look right now!

                                              Yes, each and every Friday on PLR. No doubt they stream it, or you can at least find other weekly clips on YouTube.

                                              None to be found in the Land of Steady Habits. DAMMIT!

                                              1. re: kattyeyes
                                                srsone Aug 14, 2011 06:56 AM

                                                but the fried pie is healthier than the pie they serve now.....

                                                1. re: srsone
                                                  kattyeyes Aug 14, 2011 07:34 AM

                                                  Go figure, eh? Not to mention infinitely TASTIER!

                                        2. re: jcmods
                                          ttoommyy Aug 15, 2011 11:42 AM

                                          "I attended a Rock Convention at the Hotel Diplomat in 1978"

                                          Would that have been in NYC jcmods? My best friend and I used to live for those things!!!

                                          1. re: ttoommyy
                                            jcmods Aug 15, 2011 01:45 PM

                                            Yes, over on 45th and 6th Avenue. I started going to them in High School, and even after they moved to the Pennsylvania (by Madison Square Garden) and the Roosevelt. The ones at the Diplomat were the best though (it was such a fleabag firetrap).

                                            1. re: jcmods
                                              ttoommyy Aug 16, 2011 06:09 AM

                                              "The ones at the Diplomat were the best though (it was such a fleabag firetrap)."

                                              So true! I can't believe there's someone out there (other than my best friend) who remembers these. Such good times.

                                2. David11238 Aug 13, 2011 07:18 PM

                                  I remember the HoJo chocolate lollipops more than the soda. But I do recall HoJo soda. These lollipops had pictures of animals etched in the chocolate. I believe I could pick up one of those little plastic bears that could smoke cigarettes. I pretty much drank Kirsch and Shasta sodas during the summer, Cott once in a while and for some reason, NoCal Chocolate a lot.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: David11238
                                    Sloth Aug 14, 2011 12:11 PM

                                    You just blew my mind David. I totally forgot about those chocolate lollipops!
                                    Next week-end I'm going to a family picnic and I'm gonna ask some questions about our relationship with Howard Johnson's. Maybe my older siblings remember. And since the first picture was such a hit, here's another.

                                  2. menton1 Aug 15, 2011 05:03 PM

                                    Wow, The good old Orange-Roof Howard Johnson's! Memories of those terrific Fried Clams!

                                    1. Sloth Aug 21, 2011 01:20 PM

                                      Here's the story. We purchased Howard Johnson's soda from the 3 Villages discount beverage outlet in Setauket, Long Island because it was cheap and satisfactory (although my brother described the cola as "pretty nasty"). My mom says that makes sense because we were in the government cheese phase around that time but had to have soda for kid parties. After Hojo's stopped production of canned beverages we went to Cott, C&C and Shasta. Here's the last occurance of Hojo's soda in family photos. We must have been doing better economically here (1973) because that is definitely a store bought cake. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread. It's been a crazy trip down memory lane.

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