Definitions

chock full

Chock full o'Nuts

Chock full o'Nuts was a chain of lunch counters in New York City that spawned a brand of coffee.

History

The chain was founded by William Black (1903-1983), a Russian immigrant who sold nuts in Times Square to theater-goers. In 1926, he opened a store on Broadway and 43rd Street, and began selling coffee and sandwiches. By the 1960s, the chain had approximately 80 restaurants in the New York City area. Hygiene was a selling point, with the sandwiches advertised as "untouched by human hands". (Cooks used tongs to assemble them.)

Their signature "nutted cheese" sandwich, made of cream cheese and chopped nuts on dark raisin bread, cost a nickel with a cup of coffee when the company was founded. When coffee prices went up in the 1950s, Black, like other restaurateurs, held to a 5-cent cup of coffee by watering the famous brew. But he soon broke ranks and raised the price, announcing that he refused to compromise on quality.

In 1953, the coffee brand was introduced to supermarkets. Jackie Robinson ultimately became a vice president of the company. In 1961, Chock full o'Nuts introduced a brand of instant coffee.

In the 1970s, the lunch counters went out of business one by one. After Black died, the company sold its remaining 17 restaurants to the restaurant company Riese Bros. In 1988, investor Martin D. Gruss and companies he controlled purchased the equivalent of a 10 percent stake in the Chock Full o'Nuts Corporation, and said he might seek control of company. In 1993, Chock Express stores were introduced.

The Sara Lee Corporation purchased Chock full o'Nuts for $238 million in 1999. In May 2006, it was purchased from Sara Lee by Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, along with the MJB, Hills Bros., and Chase & Sanborn coffee brands.

Jingle

"That Heavenly Feeling"
Chock full o'Nuts is that heavenly coffee,
heavenly coffee, heavenly coffee
Chock full o'Nuts is that heavenly coffee,
Better coffee a millionaire's money can't buy.

Mid-2000s versions of the jingle replace "millionaire" with "billionaire" in the last line. The original jingle had "Rockefeller's money" but it was replaced by "millionaire's" after Nelson Rockefeller, who had coffee businesses in Latin America, sued.

The Chock full o'Nuts song, written by the duo Wayne and Bruce Silbert, frequently played over the radio airwaves in the 1950s and 1960s, was sung by the boss's wife, singer Page Morton Black.

In the media

  • A scene in the movie Escape from New York occurs in a Chock full o'Nuts store.
  • A Chock Full o'Nuts store sign appears in a scene from the movie The King of Comedy (1983).
  • The exteriors of Chock Full o'Nuts restaurants can be seen on several episodes of Seinfeld.
  • During a scene in the Smoking episode of the NBC sitcom NewsRadio, Bill McNeal drinks from a mug of coffee and quips "Chock full of nuts? They should call it chock full of flavor!"
  • A can of Chock Full o'Nuts appears on the kitchen-counter set of the CBS sitcom The King Of Queens, which is set in Queens, New York, and on the kitchen counter of the Uncle Junior set of the HBO television series The Sopranos, which is set in New Jersey.
  • In the movie The Bucket List, empty cans of Chock Full o'Nuts are used as Urns for the main characters played by Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.
  • In the premiere episode of the ABC series Eli Stone, the title character carries his father's ashes in a Peanuts can, scattering them at a mountain in Chock Full o' Nuts, India.
  • It appears as a commercial in a scene in the film George of the Jungle (1997).

Footnotes

References

External links

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