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Hamburger Relish in 1970's Southern California?

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David Naimark Oct 5, 2004 12:43 AM

In the 1970's every hamburger that my parents would buy for me in Southern California at hamburger stands always had a slightly sweet, tangy flavor that suddenly disappeared in the 1980's. What was this taste? Was it some kind of hamburger relish? I'd love to find out so I can make my hamburgers taste circa 1972.

Thanks

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    daantaat RE: David Naimark Oct 5, 2004 01:15 AM

    I think it might be pickle relish? the finely diced sweet pickle relish w/ little pimentos? You might be able to get it in a good grocery store in the relish isle.

    BTW, is this the David Naimark that does forensics evals in SD?

    2 Replies
    1. re: daantaat
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      Gayla RE: daantaat Oct 5, 2004 11:19 AM

      Don't think this is it, sweet pickle relish is still widely available and widely used.

      Depends upon where the hamburgers were purchased. Almost all the major chains had a ubiqitous "secret sauce" that was based on some version of either Russian or Thousand Island dressing. All of them have done serious modifications to their 70s formulations.

      There was an extensive article in Nations Restaurant News last month about the turn-around in McDonald's in the last year to 18 months. A significant reason for their improvement has been the return to the "original" Big Mac sauce when they brought a retired operations specialist out of retirement. He contacted their former manufacturer (which I suspect was Ventura Foods) to see if they still had the original sauce recipe. They didn't, but an equally old-timer found the original hand-written recipe in the manufacturee's archives. Within weeks of returning the Big Mac to it's original formulation, sales began taking substantial increases. So I guess the moral of this story is to never under-estimate the power or allure of "sauce", it can make or break a product. Or don't under-estimate the taste memory of millions of baby-boomers ;-)

      So David, my first suggesetion would be to try 1,000 Island and tweak it to fit the taste you remember.

      1. re: Gayla
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        rooney RE: Gayla Oct 5, 2004 04:23 PM

        come to utah. it's called fry sauce here. we're still stuck in the 70s so it may taste the same as you remember.....

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      Gail RE: David Naimark Oct 5, 2004 05:53 PM

      David, I buy Del Monte's Hamburger Relish. Tastes like So. Cal. circa '70s to me.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Gail
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        Hugh Lipton RE: Gail Oct 5, 2004 08:47 PM

        Another perfect reminder is Knott's Steak relish. I think it was the lead style that is now in a similar way duplicated at The Pacific Dining Car for the 53 years I've been going there and at Monty's Steakhouse. I remember as a kid going to a hamburger place in Hollywood called Tips on Vine St. just north of Hollywood Blvd. They used the thousand island which I find best duplicated By Bob's Big Boy which you can find at almost any supermarket.

        1. re: Hugh Lipton
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          kc girl RE: Hugh Lipton Oct 5, 2004 09:07 PM

          Bob's Big Boy Thousand Island salad dressing you find in the grocery store wasn't generally put on their burgers in the 70's unless the diner did it at the table. The BbB hamburger relish was more of a ketchup with sweet pickle relish in it. No mayo in it.

          1. re: kc girl
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            Hugh Lipton RE: kc girl Oct 5, 2004 09:36 PM

            KC: Didn't say Bob's used the thousand island I said Tips used it and that Bob's was the most similar to that.

            1. re: kc girl
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              Panch0 RE: kc girl Aug 17, 2011 12:13 AM

              Right, that's a proper relish! I love my All American doused with the tangy sweet relish.

            2. re: Hugh Lipton
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              gnarlex RE: Hugh Lipton Oct 11, 2004 08:15 PM

              I don't know if they still make it, but the Knott's Berry Farm relish tastes like perfect "red" relish, the opposite of green "hot dog" relish.

              1. re: Hugh Lipton
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                Becky RE: Hugh Lipton Jan 9, 2005 11:13 PM

                Do you know where I can get Knott's steak relish now? I live 225 miles from the Farm and can't find any place online to buy it.

                1. re: Becky
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                  Becky Schnarr RE: Becky Jan 15, 2005 01:57 PM

                  Looking for a steak relish. Knott's used to have the best but it has been discontinued. Does anyone know of a similar kind?

                  1. re: Becky
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                    JHB1212 RE: Becky Aug 15, 2011 10:04 AM

                    Knott's Meat Relish is back on the market. Go to knott's marketplace to order on line.

                2. re: Gail
                  foodseek RE: Gail Aug 17, 2011 01:12 AM

                  I agree with the recommendation of Del Monte Hamburger Relish which has more of a tomato look and taste than their Del Monte Sweet Pickle relish which is made with real sugar. Del Monte also makes a yellow mustard hot dog relish. My favorite for hamburgers is the Hamburger Relish but for hot dogs I like their sweet pickle relish. Don't know if it will remind you of the 70's sauce but they have been around a long time.

                  -----
                  Del Monte Cafe
                  1642 Del Monte Blvd, Seaside, CA 93955

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                  kc girl RE: David Naimark Oct 5, 2004 09:01 PM

                  The only hamburger stand that I went to in the 70's was Foster's Freeze and that was just for onions rings and/or a banana-nut milkshake.

                  But, I do remember a hamburger at Bob's Big Boy restaurant having the sweet and tangy flavor. They called it their "special relish" and I think that was a sweet pickle relish mixed with ketchup. It was red and had pickle bits in it. They were a pretty popular hamburger place in Southern California.

                  Anyway, you can probably buy some Bob's Big Boy hamburger relish from them and maybe see if that's it. I don't think they've changed their recipe. Maybe contact one of their restaurants or shoot them an e-mail (at merchandising@bigboy.com ).

                  Link: http://www.bigboy.com/

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                    Psychocat RE: David Naimark Oct 7, 2004 03:41 PM

                    Hellman's used to make a "Hamburger Spread" that was heavy on the relish, with a base similar to Thousand Island dressing, but heavier on the tomato, and less mayo. Unfortunately, they quit making it quite some time ago.

                    You might try topsecretrecipes.com - if you contact the author through the website, you may be able to get the product you seek, or, at least, a recipe for it. Good luck!

                    =^..^=

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                      Chris RE: David Naimark Oct 8, 2004 08:42 PM

                      The Hamburger Relish you seek is still being served at the Apple Pan on their original Steak Burgers. You should be able to unlock the secret after trying one. There are only two ingredients and neither one is Mayo!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Chris
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                        budlit RE: Chris Apr 3, 2012 02:08 PM

                        ketchup & sweet pickle relish?

                        1. re: budlit
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                          JHB1212 RE: budlit Apr 3, 2012 03:44 PM

                          What you are looking for is Knott's Meat Relish which is sold at Knott's Berry Farm. You can also order it online at their website. Watch for an article in tomorrow's New York Times, food section. It will be all about relishes.

                          1. re: JHB1212
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                            budlit RE: JHB1212 Apr 3, 2012 05:58 PM

                            oh I'm not looking for it, I was just guessing the 2 ingredients

                        2. re: Chris
                          mamachef RE: Chris Nov 29, 2012 05:51 PM

                          Bam.

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                          glbtrtr RE: David Naimark Aug 15, 2011 01:09 PM

                          Could have been a victim of the lo-fat, low-sugar, low-salt and NO-TASTE revolution.

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                            laliz RE: David Naimark Apr 4, 2012 08:29 AM

                            Bob’s Big Boy Hamburger Sauce Ingredients

                            2 Teaspoons water
                            2 Tablespoons sweet relish
                            1/4 cup mayonnaise
                            2 Tablespoons ketchup
                            How to Make Bob’s Big Boy Sauce
                            This is really easy just combine the relish, mayonnaise,water and ketchup. That’s your big boy sauce

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: laliz
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                              NorthWindMark RE: laliz Nov 29, 2012 03:58 PM

                              This may be true for other Big Boy franchises like Shoney's, Frisch's, etc. But Bob's Big Boy in Southern California used a red relish, with NO mayo in it, that I have spent years trying to clone. I have finally succeeded. Anyone who wants it may have it for the asking.

                              1. re: NorthWindMark
                                carolinadawg RE: NorthWindMark Nov 29, 2012 04:41 PM

                                Well then please post it!

                            2. tim irvine RE: David Naimark Nov 29, 2012 05:00 PM

                              My Aunt Zan's chili sauce always reminds me of west coast burgers of the seventies... 20 to 24 tomatoes, 4 or 5 large onions, 4 large green peppers, 3 or 4 hot peppers ( I use jalapeños), 1 3/4 cups vinegar, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp each of ground cloves, ginger, and allspice, 1/4 tsp. cayenne, 1/4 up salt, and a tsp. of whole black peppercorns, ground coarse. Chop it all, simmer 4 hours, and can.

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