As a seven- and eight-year-old boy in the old neighborhood, I had the good fortune of patronizing a fast-food joint called Goody’s. Located on Broadway near West 230th Street in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, Goody’s, from all that I’ve gleaned, was a small hamburger chain in the New York-New Jersey area in the 1960s, which fast fell by the wayside.
My fond memories of this place have very little to do with the quality, or the taste, of their hamburgers and French fries, which no doubt were mouth-watering delicacies to my immature palate. Rather, it was the giveaway—a hamburger flipper’s mesh hat with a Goody's logo on it—that I recall getting along with a meal, and that I wish I still had today to prop up on my curio shelf right alongside a Bohack’s supermarket set of matches. But, alas, both the freebie hat and the Goody’s chain of stores are in the memory dumpster.
When Burger King took over Goody’s location in the early 1970s sometime, their employees were bedecked in snappy uniforms—the womenfolk wore very cool and very big hats—and one and all were trained in customer service. Times have changed. But in all fairness, a Burger King hourly wage bought more than a Burger King supper forty years ago.
Calling on Goody’s, Burger King, or McDonald’s was considered a special treat for most of us, something akin to a day at the amusement park. There were no families that I knew of who fed at the troughs of these fast-food places for their daily fares. We all just sort of knew that fast foods and health foods didn’t jibe, and we didn’t need calorie charts to put us on the straight and narrow. And, really, many of the so-called “fat kids” in my grammar and high schools would be considered positively svelte in this uber-informed day and age of ours. I just don’t get it. We have so much more health info at our fingertips, but yet we just keep getting fatter and fatter, and more cholesterol laden, and blame Burger King and McDonald's for leading us astray.
I realize that the Goody’s era is considered the dark ages vis-à-vis health and wellness—the place could have had a cigarette machine on the premises for heaven's sake. But fast foods just weren’t on our plates three, four, and five times a week in those ignorant times.