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Marie Callendar’s minus hot bacon dressing

Updated on July 29, 2013

Marie Callendar's Restaurant


My first experience with Marie Callendar's

I remember the first time I went to Marie Callendar’s back in the late 70’s. A friend convinced me to go with her to her favorite restaurant. She ordered a cheeseburger with no pickles. She suggested that I order the chili beans and cornbread. The cost of my entrée was $1.50 and included a piece of cornbread that looked like cake with honey butter on the side. I was hooked!

It's January 2013. Marie Calendar's pie sale starts around February 1st!

I became a loyal customer

As I returned to Marie Callendar’s more frequently, I developed a craving for the hot bacon dressing, vegetable plate with cheese, potato cheese soup, broccoli cheese soup and fresh strawberry pie that is to die for. At one time, the salad bar included chicken wings, potato wedges, and other appetizers. My co-workers and I ate lunch at Marie Callendar’s at least once a week. There were times when there was a 20 minute to one hour wait.

Recent review of Marie Callendar's hamburger


Sign of the times

In the early 90’s I noticed that the hot bacon dressing was available upon request but was not on the salad bar. I wondered if it was too costly to make the hot bacon dressing. Next I noticed that all appetizers disappeared from the salad bar. It became obvious that they were cutting costs. Fast forward to 2011 … I ate dinner at Marie Callendar’s and purchased a pie to go. Two weeks later, I went to the location and found that it had been closed!

Recipe for Marie Callendar's Hot Bacon Dressing

As I started this Hub, I looked online for additional information. I found a recipe for the hot bacon dressing along with an article on the decline of Marie Callendar’s.

Hot Bacon Dressing


· 8 slices bacon

· 1 1/2 cups white sugar

· 3 teaspoons cornstarch

· 1/2 teaspoon salt

· 1/4 cup water

· 1/2 cup white vinegar



1. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt, and slowly pour in water and vinegar, whisking constantly.

3. In a medium skillet, add the crumbled bacon and pour the vinegar mixture over it. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens.

Marie Callendar's infamous pie display


Marie Callendar's still has cornbread and pies

When Marie Callendar’s has their semi-annual pie sales, I stop buy for pies and eat lunch. The price Is good and the salad bar is attractive and full. The salad just isn’t the same without the hot bacon dressing. The cornbread is still served in huge pieces along with honey butter.

Will Marie Callendar's survive

Management has changed and many locations have closed. Is there anything Marie Callendar’s can do to bring back the nostalgia of the past century or guide the restaurant into a new direction? Maybe we can make some suggestions that will help them not just survive but thrive!

Marie Callendar's than and now

Do you remember and miss the Marie Callendar's of the twentieth century?

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Hot Bacon Dressing recipe

4.2 out of 5 stars from 5 ratings of Marie Calalender's

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What happened to the Marie Callendar's Restaurant

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    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 3 years ago from Fontana

      I cannot eat a cheeseburger with pickles. It is unconscionable!

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Diane, that is right, about the hot fudge cake at Bob's Big Boy, I had forgotten about that. You have a great memory to recall that they don't put pickles on their hamburgers, though I was younger when I went and probably didn't notice. I probably would now though, I love pickles. I wish I had tried the hot bacon dressing when I had the chance, and will take your word for how good it tastes. I love bacon so probably would have loved it.

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 3 years ago from Fontana

      Oceans, Big Boy's hot fudge cake was the bomb diggedy! I don't know if the recipe is very good. Unless you had the original hot bacon dressing, you can't possibly understand. People would get a little salad with their bowl of hot bacon dressing. Big Boy didn't put pickles on their hamburgers!!!!

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Oh no! Diane, I hadn't heard that Marie Calendars was struggling so badly! This was an icon of sorts, a memorable place to go with my family! I went a few years ago with my sister in law and her children one time. I recall as a little girl, feeling so special to get to go there! The one location, would let me order a scoop of vanilla ice cream with little chocolate chips on top, the kind they sprinkled on the pie tops! It was a super special treat. It sounds so strange to say this, but it breaks my heart if this chain is truly struggling. I miss Bob's Big Boy, and Swensen's too, if you remember those? I fear many stores and restaurants are struggling. I still get back to California as I can, but am in the Midwest now. Many of my favorite stores here have closed. Its kind of unsettling.

      At any rate, I love Marie Calendars, their salads, corn bread, pies, everything. Thank you for sharing that recipe for the bacon dressing, as I am not sure I have ever had it but it sounds great!

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 5 years ago from Fontana

      fast, do ever do mystery shopping. There's an opportunity to eat and be reimbursed. It isn't as good as it used to be but it my help. I haven't received a raise in 4 years and I'm looking into retirement. It is totally frightening how little money I will get.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 5 years ago from Southern California

      Oh, do I remember Marie, the chili was my first draw too. I haven't looked for the restaurant lately, because I can't afford to take myself out eat at this point. But I would like to think when I want to go out again it is there. That makes me sad to hear it's no longer around.

      Very good hub, voted up, interesting.

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 5 years ago from Fontana

      Nell, they are famous for their pies. The fresh strawberry pie is delightful. All of the cream cheese pies (sour cream, lemon, kahlua, and strawberry) melt in your mouth!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Well it all sounds really yummy to me! lol! we don't have this over here, but I do wish we had!

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 5 years ago from Fontana

      I'm sure you are right Dashing. I see restaurants tweaking their menus all the time. Even TGIF seems to be hurting, and Applebee's, and a few others. Even Olive Garden, my favorite Saturday spot, is having problems. That's why they have various versions of 2 for $20 and free dessert, etc. The economy is not helping.

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 5 years ago

      When I lived in Southern California I often went Marie Callendar's restaurant. I believe what is happening is a sign of the times. The taste of younger generations are the same as those in previous generations. Today people aren't interested in experiencing "home cooking" food in a restaurant setting. They'd rather go Margaritaville, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Red Robin, TGIF, Golden Corral (buffet) or possibly Applebees.

      Chains like Marie Callendar's, Bakers Square, and Polly's Pies are becoming a thing of the past with maybe the exception of a few chains specializing in (breakfast) menus like Cracker Barrel. The others struggle to grow their profits and gamble on making menu changes to draw in Generation X & Y. After all the "Baby boomers" and older generations tend not to frequent restaurants as much as they use to.

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 5 years ago from Fontana

      lol! I know you remember the hot bacon dressing. It looks like you make it also.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hmmmm. Never cared enough to pay attention. But you are right on.

      And I do not care what anybody says ---- It should be a full cup of red wine vinegar and to boiled egg yolks.