ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Eating at the Automat

Updated on September 1, 2013

American Classic


We think of fast food as a recent invention, but railroad restaurants, hotdog stands and Automats have been around for longer than many people realize.

The first Automat was opened in Philadelphia in 1902. Joe Horn and Frank Hardart imported the food dispensers from Germany, which had pioneered the waiter-less restaurant that the men imported to the United States.

Self Service the Key for Quick Service


Everything cost at least 1 nickel and there were cashiers to change money into nickels. Between the kitchen and the dining room was a wall of windows. The food was placed behind the windows and customers would put nickels into the slots to unlock the door and the customer would take out their selection.

Seating was self-service, the menu offered a wide variety of classic American food such as meat loaf, Salisbury steak, fried chicken and other basic fare. Desserts were also available and the coffee was always fresh.

Doris Day at the Automat

End of the Automat


The restaurant was a big success and soon expanded to New York City and all along the East Coast. The Automat was the first successful fast food chain in the country. The food was produced under assembly line conditions and by just using nickels customers could get their food faster. The Horn & Hardart Automat chain didn’t survive the proliferation of fast food restaurants, but they were very popular for a time. I remember vividly going to an Automat as a child and thinking it was quite the thing. This was in the early 1970's so of course the prices were higher than a nickel by then but the food was pretty good.

Remembering the Automat

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Civil War Bob profile image

      Civil War Bob 

      6 years ago from Glenside, Pennsylvania

      Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane, Scout...voted up, useful, interesting.

    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 

      6 years ago from Paris via California

      I had no idea. And to think we talk about how anonymous fast food chains are today. We may actually have made some progress in the contact department. But in terms of aesthetics, can't beat the automat!

    • Theophanes profile image

      Theophanes Avery 

      6 years ago from New England

      So that's what those things are called.. I saw one in NYC but didn't feel daring enough to try it. Then I went to Holland with my boyfriend who is from there and they had one at the train station. I guess they are common there still. I think he was amused by my half-grossed out marveling. I really didn't want to try it there! hehe. To each their own. Loved the hub and hey I learned something!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)