NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Friendly’s officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Wednesday, and like Blockbuster and Sbarros before it, the chain holds a special place in our hearts even if many of us can’t remember the last time we set foot in one of its locations.
The 76-year old ice cream chain has long been a fixture in countless communities around the country, but a tough economy combined with the rising cost of rent and food products like cream hurt the company’s finances and ultimately forced it to file for bankruptcy protection in order to restructure its business. As part of this process, Friendly’s announced that it will shutter 63 locations along the East Coast, most of which are in its home state of Massachusetts.
More than 400 other locations will remain open while the company works to improve its fiscal situation, but one way or the other, the days of having a Friendly’s in virtually every town may have come to an end. And that’s too bad because Friendly’s offers a few things – however trivial – that one would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
The Cone Head Sundae
Friendly’s was an ice cream shop first and foremost and no menu item was quite as wonderful as the cone head sundae on the kid’s menu, which features a generous scoop of ice cream in a diner-style serving cup with a cone on top and a cherry at the tip of the cone. Finally, three M&Ms are added to look like eyes and a nose. Hence the dessert’s nickname: the clown sundae. This item takes sweets to the next level and proved so whimsical that even one of MainStreet’s editors who has an intense and highly irrational fear of all things clown-related still remembers the clown sundae fondly from her childhood.
The Grilled Cheese Burger Melt
At a time when restaurants and fast food chains decided to churn out more and more extreme meals like foot-long burgers and cheesecake pancakes, Friendly’s decided to remind us what decadence really looks like by introducing the grilled cheese burger melt. It’s hard to overstate how outrageous this meal is – almost as hard as it is to eat the whole thing. The burger features a huge beef patty with lettuce and tomatoes sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches. Finally people had a way to eat three meals at once. Until this burger came out, you would have needed to grow an extra hand to do so, but the grilled cheese burger is so much easier. Really, this is exactly the kind of brilliant innovation we need more of in the restaurant world because it might just be obscene enough to get the country to eat healthier.
Triangle Peg Board Game
Anyone who has ever eaten at a Friendly’s probably remembers wasting at least a little time trying to solve the peg board game, but for those who didn’t or simply chose to forget their failure to do so, the game consists of an equilateral triangle with slots for five pegs on each side and 15 pegs in total. One peg is taken out at the start of the game and the player then has to jump one peg over another directly next to it checkers-style into the open spaces, removing the peg in between, until there are no more moves left to be made. The goal is to get down to just one peg and on those rare occasions where you come close to doing so, you are compelled to celebrate with another scoop of ice cream.
As silly as the game is, it serves as a reminder that Friendly’s is a restaurant that prides itself on entertaining kids and giving families a wholesome environment in which to enjoy themselves.
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