Howard Johnson first became locally famous for his ice cream. He claimed the secret recipe came from his mother, while other accounts suggests it came from William G. Hallbauer, a retiring German immigrant who had been selling ice cream from his horse and cart in the area at the turn of the century. The ‘secret’ was to double the amount of normal butterfat, and to use only natural ingredients. This created a premium ice cream that was an immediate sensation and earned Howard $60,000 in revenue from his first beachfront stand.
Additional flavors were added – 28 in all – as well as “frankforts,” a premium hot dog sandwich developed by Howard that was grilled in butter. Johnson clipped the frankfurters at both ends and notched them lengthwise. He used only the highest quality meats grilled in a creamy butter, and for buns he used lightly buttered and toasted fresh rolls.
By 1928 Howard Johnson was grossing $240,000 from his store and small network of beachfront ice cream and frankfort vendors.
[ Howard Johnson’s original 28 ice cream flavors: Banana, Black Raspberry, Burgundy Cherry, Butter Pecan, Buttercrunch, Butterscotch, Caramel Fudge, Chocolate, Chocolate Chip, Coconut, Coffee, Frozen Pudding, Fruit Salad, Fudge Ripple, Lemon Stick, Macaroon, Maple Walnut, Mocha Chip, Orange-Pineapple, Peach, Peanut Brittle, Pecan Brittle, Peppermint Stick, Pineapple, Pistachio, Strawberry, Strawberry Ripple, Vanilla.
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