Jim Abbott on Travel
Postcards from Florida
November 22, 2009
Last week, our postcard showcased super-sized roadside art at Barberville Produce, so this week let's throw some artfully low-brow music into the mix.
Whenever someone asks me why I stop at Waffle House restaurants (and this question arises more often than one might think), my answer has less to do with hash browns than songs about hash browns.
Yes, the hidden secret at each of the nation's roughly 1,300 Waffle House restaurants isn't in a recipe, it's in the jukebox. Each jukebox at every Waffle House restaurant is packed with songs – lots of songs – about Waffle House.
And you thought a Happy Meal was a marketing innovation.
I came across this artistic find, with the help of a former colleague, many years ago and I have been annoying, er, sharing it with friends, Waffle House employees and other diners consistently ever since.
While it might be technically correct to call ditties such as "Waffle House Family I and II" advertising jingles, it's like calling Itzhak Perlman a fiddle player. These tunes are the audio equivalent of Elvis on black velvet, or paintings of those dogs playing poker.
The rockabilly "It's a Waffle Great Day'' and Lynyrd Skynyrd-influenced "I'm Cooking at the Waffle House'' are invitations to a syrup-soaked alternative reality, where customers are hard-working Americans with a taste for simple pleasures ("I'm Going Back to the Waffle House''), the employees are cheerful ("Special Lady at the Waffle House'') and the restaurants are clean and efficient ("I Like What I See at Waffle House'').
Think Norman Rockwell with a spatula.
The songs are all built to resemble twisted knock-offs of James Brown, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis songs. That sounds easy, but the music is so skillfully done that an urban myth surfaced at one point that country stars such as Garth Brooks and Dolly Parton had recorded them under assumed names such as Eddie Middleton and Mary Welch Rogers.
In reality, the songs were done by an assortment of studio musicians in Atlanta.
A greatest hits package is available at wafflehouse.com; hash browns are not included.
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