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Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Mad Men Takes a HoJo To Go


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
2 Comments » | Published in Design TV, Travel  |  2 Comments

Did any of you feel a wave of nostalgia for a Howard Johnson’s road trip stop while watching Mad Men last night? I kept thinking of my family driving from Ohio to Cape Cod in the family truckster (a tan Ford station wagon with wood paneling and flip up seats in the way-back) and stopping for a hot dog and an ice cream cone. The bright colors, light fixtures and even the waitress uniforms actually looked retro-fresh in last night’s episode.

Somehow, the combination of pot pies and orange sherbet leads to a devastating fight between Don and Megan, and he abandons her in a HoJo’s parking lot. How could he not, with that fabulous honeysuckle dress with matching chevron coat? It was made for a HoJo’s. Girlfriend even had on matching pink sunglasses. Tory Burch has got nothing on Megan’s costume designer.

Only that devilish cad Don Draper could make the iconic Howard Johnson’s roof look sexy.

Anyway, the wave of nostalgia made me want to look into the history of Howard Johnson’s. Because I’m lazy, most of this information was compiled via Wikipedia, so take it for what it’s worth.

Howard Deering Johnson opened drugstore in 1925, but soon realized that the soda fountain was the most profitable part.  He started tinkering with ice cream and the business changed direction toward becoming a restaurant that became known for fried clams.

In 1932 a second restaurant was opened, one of the first franchise deals in the U.S. The first motor lodge was opened in Savannah Georgia in 1954, and it was designed by architects Rufus Nims and Karl Koch. From there, in a nutshell, the business boomed and the motor lodges became known for their ubiquitous roadside advertisements:

In the 1960s and ’70s, there were over 1,000 HoJos across the United States and Canada.

There is a site completely dedicated to posting pictures of former HoJos, called

Then, new owners and more new owners and big changes, bland architecture and a new logo that’s no fun. The End.

Oh, P.S. Also, when you Google “Howard Johnson,” this guy is interspersed between all of the motel pictures. He’s a singer:

Images 1,2, 3 via

Image 4 via

Image 5 from Wikimedia Commons

About Becky:
Hi, I'm Becky. I live in Atlanta. Besides acting as the Editorial Director here on Hatch, you can find me talking design over at Houzz. Make me happy — leave a comment!

About Becky

has written 1620 post in this blog.

Hi, I'm Becky. I live in Atlanta. Besides acting as the Editorial Director here on Hatch, you can find me talking design over at Houzz. Make me happy — leave a comment!


Filed under Design TV, Travel  |  2 Comments


  1. Cottage David says:

    April 24th, 2012 at 6:51 am (#)

    Well I like to make people happy so here’s a comment. I remember traveling as a Kid, we always stayed at Ho Jo’s. I would wake up late at night in the back seat of the car and see the big orange roof, and I’d start thinking about what I would have for breakfast the next morning!

  2. Becky says:

    May 3rd, 2012 at 9:43 am (#)

    David, I LOVED a Ho Jo’s treat on the road as well, anticipating a big fat coffee ice cream. thanks for sharing your memory 🙂

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