Sunday, August 7, 2016

Craving a Dog N Suds

Vandalia's Dog N Suds,
from the Facebook "Vandalia
Memories" page 
Because I love root beer, I think back sometimes to the old Dog N Suds restaurants. Only a few of them remain. One operated in my hometown at Third (Kennedy Blvd.) and Jefferson Streets during the 1960s; this photo  is from an old high school yearbook advertisement. During a family trip in the 1990s, we were thrilled to find a Dog N Suds along I-65 south of Indianapolis somewhere. When we moved to Ohio in 2000, I found a listing in a nearby community---but it turned out to be a dog washing and grooming service...

They were drive-in restaurants, specializing in Coney Island hot dogs, their own brand of root beer served in frosted mugs, and also hamburgers. Like the much more common Sonics, you parked beneath a canopy and the waitress would bring out your meal on a tray. The logo was a happy dog who looked a little like Disney's Pluto, who held a tray of the delicious food.

I taught a class, "American Highways and American Wanderlust" at the University of Akron. I briefly mentioned several franchised restaurants that were founded in the 1950s or 1960s: McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC, Burger Chef (eventually merged with Hardee's), and others. Dog N Suds was another, founded in 1953, as detailed by the company website. As it says there, the restaurants were very popular, and new franchises opened around the country, but management decisions spelled their decline. According to the website, there are a little over a dozen left, around the Midwest.

The Roadside Architecture site provides photographs of several restaurants, many of which have converted to other businesses. The place that would have been closest to me, on Olive Blvd in St. Louis County, is now an Asian restaurant. But there is an operating Dog N Suds down in Fredericktown, Missouri, an hour and a half or so south of me. I see a "field trip" in my future.

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