Life on the Fast Food Highway

By BOB ZIMORINO

When people think of fast food, an often overlooked category is cafeteria food. I went to a Catholic grade school that did not have a cafeteria, so we ate brown bag lunches at our desks. The aforementioned mustard sandwiches (see part 1) were amongst my favorite lunch entrees. High school was a whole other story. In the big leagues there was a cafeteria.

At the sound of the bell, like greyhounds chasing rabbits, we were off, bound to be the first in line for some of the most unmemorable consumables that we, in our short lives would have the pleasure of tearing through.

Once you got outside of the classroom though, it suddenly became controlled chaos as you were forced into a traffic stream and not allowed to run because of the dreaded Hall Monitors. Get pulled from the line for speeding and your friends would all be finishing their meals just about the time you were sitting down. With a superiority complex that begged condescension the “hall cops” would pluck you from the stream like an eagle snags a trout and you were forced to stand there looking like a fish out of water, watching helplessly as your place in line disappeared around the corner toward the cafeteria.

To this day I am not sure what we were in such a hurry for. I vaguely remember one of my favorites was the Hot Turkey Sandwich. It was comprised of white bread covered in canned turkey gravy with occasional, what appeared to be, parts of actual turkey– a turkey that probably had last gobbled around the time of the first Thanksgiving. The open-faced sandwich was usually accompanied by canned corn allowing for one to mix it all together. Does S.O.S. mean anything to anyone? The meals were thirty-five cents and came with a carton of milk (for strong bones). The wait was in the human line; however, going through the food line took under two minutes. It truly was fast food.

When I was sixteen and working at the Tastee Freeze my Dad and I went to Rochester N.Y. thirty miles to the west of my hometown. We were on a mission to get me a winter coat. After finding a nice warm jacket we both agreed that we werehungry.

Driving back toward Route 31 we stopped at a burger joint. It distinguished itself from the other businesses around it by having two brightly colored golden arches that ran front to back from the ground over the roof and back to the ground on either side of the candy striped box shaped building.

Hamburgers were nineteen cents, French fries were fifteen cents and milk shakes were twenty cents. You could get a package meal (all three) for forty-five cents. I ordered the package meal and before I even finished telling the counter person the flavor my shake, they were sticking a tray of food in front of me on the counter. The counter gal turned around and grabbed a chocolate shake from somewhere and I was done as quick as a calf roper. The food was hot and delicious, the shake was perfect and I knew that my current employer’s days were numbered.

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Bio:  Bob Zimorino is a full-time real estate agent with Lambros/ERA Real Estate, a retired Certified Executive Chef, a Musician with the popular local band Hellgate Rodeo, a dad, and a grandpa. He shares the experiences from his life that helped shape his careers and hobbies. What better place to start his weekly “Taste It” blog than his take on the evolution of food in hislifetime?

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