Friday, December 17, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Salad bars

So talk to us about salad bars. Where was the first one you ever saw? Was it a novelty that only parents explored, or were you one of those healthy kids who were into salad?

I think the first ever salad bar I saw was in ... Burger Chef. Which sounds weird, but then as kids, we weren't going to many real restaurants -- we ate most of our meals at home.

I remember it was a pretty novel thing, and they also had a condiment bar so you could dress up your burger yourself. You were in charge at Burger Chef! It also introduced us to things that our houses never had, whether it was garbanzo beans and sunflower seeds on salads, kinds of dressing that our mom never bought (Russian?), or the sheer novelty of something called a "sneeze guard." I always thought about the results of what would happen if someone DID sneeze and there was NO sneeze guard, because really, once you hear that name, can you think of anything else?

I also remember reading or seeing somewhere (That 70s Show?) a story where the parents in a family went out to a restaurant and the dad made them leave when he discovered the place had a salad bar. No way was he MAKING HIS OWN salad! How times have changed.

Do you remember the first salad bar you saw? What salad toppings and dressings were familiar to you and which ones were way weird?


cmcl said...

I remember the first one I encountered, I'm pretty sure it was a Wendy's. I was a little kid, maybe seven or eight or so, and I went up by myself to put fixings on my burger, only to have an employee (who clearly did not have enough actual work to do) come up to me and tell me that I wasn't allowed to take stuff from the salad bar and I should have gone to the fixings bar instead. (They looked identical to my little-kid eyes! And what possible difference could it make that I was taking onions from the salad bar instead of the fixings bar?) I was embarrassed and angry at being corrected so I ran back to the table crying and was miserable for the rest of the day. Way to inspire brand loyalty there, Wendy's!

KL Crab said...

Souplantation in San Diego I think. Thought I had died and gone to heaven. Raisins on the bar were the thing that confused me. Now I love dried fruit in my salad and I still get all warm inside at the sight of an awesome salad bar.

Anonymous said...

I am old, so I just MAY have seen the very first salad bar! It was in the Pleistocene,, no. Not quite. It was in Sacramento, in about 1976, at a place called Rattlesnake Dick's. All the selections were in tubs set in ice in an old claw-footed bathtub. Classy.

REX said...

Yeah, the sneeze guard is the kind of thing that wouldn't normally occur to you as a kid, but once it's in your mind you CAN'T GET IT OUT.

Probably the first one I encountered was at that great salad bar democratizer, Wendy's, but it might've been a little earlier at one of the off-burger restaurants like Burger Chef.

Anonymous said...

Sizzler was famous for its salad bar in the '80s, though I don't think that was the first one I saw. It was all you can eat for something line $4. Unfortunately, Sizzlers aren't around anymore.

Another trend of the '80s was the potato bar, where you'd get toppings for your baked potato. Wendy's had these... and still offers baked potatoes, though not the bars.

flowerjewel77 said...

I miss the Wendy's SuperBar. You could make tacos, get pasta & sauces, make a salad, and just generally PIG OUT for a VERY reasonable price. I think people were getting sick from them and they had to outlaw them. Plus, I read on a blog ages ago that they'd decided to move in a different direction at some point, and the SuperBar just didn't fit the corporate model they were going for. What a shame. I really enjoyed that when I was a kid to mid-teen.