Monday, April 17, 2017

Hills Bros. Coffee House Menus

Old Disneyland menus are popular collectibles among those who love paper ephemera. Some of them can get very pricey too! But menus from the Hills Bros. Coffee House on Town Square tend to be relatively affordable.

Here's a neat image scanned from a 1959 multipage newspaper insert.

I have several variations of these menus, though they all have  the same cover. Here it is!

And here's the interior of the first version that I am aware of. Everything sounds pretty good, except for that chopped egg sandwich. The egg sandwich with bacon is barely an improvement.

I love Disneyland maps, and this menu has a wonderful example. The artwork also helps date the menu because it has the Columbia and the Grand Canyon Diorama, both of which debuted in 1958 - but it doesn't have the Matterhorn, which (as you know) opened in 1959. One fun detail is the Viewliner, in the upper right corner, just below the steam locomotive.

Here's the interior spread of the next version - sorry for the crummy condition. At the time I scanned these, I could not find my example that is much mintier. Please memorize the names of each Hills brother so that you can impress everyone with your deep trivia knowledge.

Once again, the menu is undated, though this more-rendered map now includes the Matterhorn, Monorail, and Subs. Since the Monorail exited the park to the Disneyland Hotel, I consider this to be a 1961 menu, though it is just a guess.

Next is the inner spread for a 1966 version; they finally got rid of that chopped egg sandwich! Our long national nightmare was over.

And here's the back of the '66 version. I only learned of this one's existence while at the home of a fellow collector, and found one to buy a few months later on eBay. Hopefully I can upgrade someday. My friend said he's seen yet another version with nothing on the back at all. Something to look for.

I hope you have enjoyed these vintage Hills Bros. menus!


Nanook said...


Who knew there could be so much Hills Bros. collecting "goodness" to be had-! The copy from each edition is so filled-to-overflowing with nonsensical marketing-ease, one could be writing commentary for hours and hours. Suffice it to say, I'll be limiting my 'notes' to the very first image and the "hey... quick - we need a caption for the image featuring the "young people". Why not just run-on over to the dedication plaque at the foot of the flag pole for "inspiration" - or merely 'steal whatever you need'-!!" You just know that when Walt-? was composing those now infamous 66 words, he had to fight-back tooth-and-nail to banish 'Hills Bros. Coffee' from that text. To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Why not grab a cup of Hills Bros. Coffee while savoring challenges and promises of the future... Sure sounds good to me.

Thanks, Major, for this thorough look back at why Starbucks was able to gain a foothold on mainstream coffee drinking - no matter how overrated its coffee is.

TokyoMagic! said...

I think the blonde lady in that first image is thinking to herself, "Gee...Jim NEVER has a second cup of MY coffee!"

Pegleg Pete said...

Don't knock a chopped egg sandwich! They're still a lunchtime packaged-sandwich staple here in the UK where it's known as an 'egg mayonaise' sandwhich - and while they may be bland, at least you know what you're getting . . . Great post today, Major. The stylized maps are a treat.

DrGoat said...

Great stuff Major. Maybe Jim was a Chock Full 'O Nuts fan.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed egg salad (chopped egg) sandwiches at Hill Bros. on several occasions. Pretty yummy stuff.

K. Martinez said...

I don't know what "chopped egg" sandwiches are, but I do love egg salad sandwiches with mayo, a little bit of mustard and seasonings. Mmmmmmmm! Delicious!

Was never much of a coffee connoisseur, so Starbucks is completely lost on me. These coffee lattes and mocha things are just not my thing. I usually just ask for a cup of coffee black. And I have friends who want me to sit and hang out in a coffee house with them sipping lattes or such things. Guess I'm out of touch.

Anonymous said...

Major, these are so great. How nice to have a chronologic series of menus. Interesting to see how the menu became "heartier" over the years.

I suspect that the cream cheese sandwich must have hung on a while past 1961, since I remember seeing that on this menu, and thinking it was icky. I probably couldn't read in 1961.

Mom and Dad loved this spot. when I was older, they would let me run on ahead to ride the Matterhorn. I would come back to find them here, holding hands over a cup of coffee.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I guess I didn’t actually read the caption accompanying that photo, but you aren’t kidding, it is clearly “inspired” by Walt’s dedication speech. I wonder if Marty Sklar had anything to do with the text of this fancy full-color newspaper insert?

TokyoMagic!, did the movie “Airplane” do a riff on that commercial? Somehow I think that it did!

Pegleg Pete, I didn’t know you were in the UK. Now I can really claim to have an international audience! I know that egg salad (or “egg mayonnaise”) sandwiches are a thing, but… it just doesn’t sound good to me. The texture is part of the issue.

DrGoat, so funny, I was just thinking of that dopey Chock Full ‘O Nuts song! “Better coffee a millionaire’s money can’t buy!”.

Anonymous, the important thing is that YOU enjoyed them!

K. Martinez, my mom still makes deviled eggs, and I can’t eat those cold, slippery things. I admit that it is my own particular weirdness that is the problem. I’m not a coffee drinker, but can always do a Frappuccino! Basically a coffee milkshake. Add enough cream and sugar to anything, and it will be good.

JG, funny, I’ve never had a cream cheese sandwich, but on reading the menu I thought that it sounded interesting. The combination of tangy cream cheese, sweet pineapple, and crunchy nut bread… well, let’s just say I would try it. Aw, how nice that you have that memory of your mom and dad holding hands at the Hills Bros restaurant!

Nanook said...

@ Ken-

You're not out of touch. There's nothing wrong with a "plain 'ol cup 'o Joe" - properly made. And although I think Starbucks has essentially devolved into serving overly-flavored, overly-sugared, high-calorie "liquid desserts for adults", and packaged them under the guise of high-class "real coffee", it doesn't pass muster. But I DO understand its appeal. And I think they are responsible for creating an industry of independently-run, high-class coffee & espresso shops that ARE up to the task of serving [what can arguably be described as] one of the most difficult drinks to make properly & consistently. If nothing else, Howard Schultz is to be thanked for that.

If you're curious how really-good coffee can taste, by-pass Starbucks, and their ilk, and head towards a good, independent coffee shop. I have not been there, but I have heard nothing but great things about Verve Coffee Roasters. You never know what you'll discover.

TokyoMagic! said...

Dr. Goat, ha, ha...Chock Full O' Nuts! It's the "heavenly" coffee!

Major, yes the movie "Airplane" did do a riff on that commercial. And now that I have taken a second look at that first pic, I believe the guy is thinking "This coffee is good to the last drop" and the server is thinking, "I'll just fill it to the rim....."

Chuck said...

Major, I'm not 100% sure I agree that if you add enough cream and sugar to anything, it will be good. I'm imagining a dill pickleccino, and it's not a pleasant image.

TM!, first thing I thought of after your comment was Airplane!

Anonymous said...

Having started my Disney 'career' in the Hill's kitchen in 1969 I can attest that the lunch menu had become the following sandwiches...roast beef (85 cents), ham and cheese (75 cents), tuna (65 cents) , P&J (35 cents) and French Dip (75 cents). All were served on paper plates and except for the P&J, were served with a pickle and a scoop of potato salad. You also had a choice of potato chips which came with the P&J. I may be a bit off on the prices as I know they increased a dime or so in 1970. Great times with great people and happy to have my memories and pictures of them. I even submitted a story on another blog about my time there. KS

outsidetheberm said...

That first map is so great! Have not seen that one before. Lovin' it.

Apparently the railroad runs full size over by Tomorrowland but shrinks to itty bitty in Frontierland!

Dean Finder said...

Interesting. In 1961, the Hills were making coffee for 82 years, but in 1966, they've been roasting coffee for 93 years.
I guess time runs faster when you're drinking coffee all the time.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “overly-sugared”. Is that even possible?

TokyoMagic!, fill it to the rim… with Brim! Does “Brim” even exist anymore?

Chuck, as my dad always said, “Don’t knock it until you try it!”.

KS, you mean there are other blogs besides this one?

outsidetheberm, most people don’t notice the change in the size of the train, but if you pay attention, you can feel it!

Dean Finder, ha ha, that’s hilarious. Wonder what the story was behind those dates?

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, you remembered the rest of it! I'm not sure if Brim exists or not. I'm not a coffee drinker and I never have been. I don't even like coffee flavored candy or ice cream. But those commercials are burned into my memory. I wonder if Sanka and Yuban still exist? We served Sanka at Knott's when someone wanted decaf. And I remember a Wacky Package card/sticker for "Yubum" with a hobo drinking coffee on the label.

DrGoat said...

Tokyo, my uncle used to drink Sanka. He never was without a couple of little packets of instant Sanka. I remember liking the graphics on the label. The fellow with the turban pouring a cup.
Egg salad with big mayo, a very small dab of mustard mixed in. Yummy.

Anonymous said... answer to your question, there's nothing quite like this one! KS