The Roost, Atlantic City 1946/7
"Check yer table manners at the door"
Humour was an important part of marketing restaurants in the 1940s and this is a marvellous example from The Roost, a restaurant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It depicts a chicken standing in front of a judge and jury of its peers and hearing the announcement “Guilty – Sentenced To Fry.” A court bailiff stands to the side, ready with a frying pan behind its back. Of course, this might be deemed rather cruel humour by today’s standards, but it would have been a good way to grab people’s attention since eating fried chicken wasn’t particularly common during this era, except in the South. The interior menu is also a graphic feast with anthropomorphized chickens ice-skating, feeling the heat on the griddle and stuffed in sandwiches. A dapper chicken in a top hat and dinner suit, carrying a cane and smoking a cigar, advertises take-away. In the 1940s, before air-conditioning and foreign travel was the norm, millions of people flocked to Atlantic City’s miles of boardwalk to enjoy the beach and have fun in the seaside mecca’s resorts. Like The Bird In Hand restaurant in New York which also depicted the chicken-sentenced-to-fry image on its menu covers, The Roost helped popularize the concept of eating brined and buttermilk-soaked fried chicken with your fingers for city folk.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each print is accompanied by a copy of the interior menu where available.
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