Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Red Wagon Inn Kid's Menu, 1957

Delving into the Souvenir Dungeon once again, I decided to share another "kiddie menu". Last time it was a Carnation menu, this time the menu is from the Red Wagon Inn. I am pretty sure this one dates from 1957. Back in those days, the Red Wagon Inn might have been one of the nicer restaurants in the park, located right on the Plaza's eastern edge. 

As you can see, the artwork shows a team of white horses pulling the titular red wagon (maybe it's more of a buggy?). This is almost a mini poster! It's interesting that they bothered to go to the trouble and expense of making the menu that odd die-cut shape. But I appreciate it, 61 years later!

I always get a kick out of the things that kids would (apparently) eat back in those days. A halibut steak? Roast turkey? A chopped sirloin patty? How about a nice glass of buttermilk to go with it? They all sound pretty good to me (well, not the buttermilk). $1.25 is about $10 when adjusted for inflation, so I would imagine that parents were scandalized by the high prices. 

Plastic surgery was all the rage; Snow White has had her nose removed (as was the fashion in 1957), while Monstro had his lips done.

Just for yucks, I am including this nearly-identical later version, only the name of the eatery was changed to the "Red Wagon Restaurant". I am not exactly sure when the change was made, but I believe it was around 1959. 

In this case, the menu has a clear date at the bottom, "11/60". The hot dog became a Frankfurter (with a reduced price!), and the sirloin steak became a hamburger, but otherwise things weren't that different.

These menus are not terribly hard to find, in spite of their antiquity. I wonder if stacks of unused versions wound up in some enterprising cast member's backpack?


Nancy said...

They also added Tuna Salad Sandwich in 1960. Ill take one, please!! Do you have cherry Jell-o? I personally prefer the term Hot Dog over Frankfurter....its just more fun! :-)

Leonard said...

Daveland has an even funnier one, which pictures Danny, the little lamb from "So Dear to My Heart." Unfortunately, he's pictured right above the broiled lamb chop dinner!

Chuck said...

Mmmm...lamb chops. So dear to my taste buds...

I wonder if "hot dog" was changed to "frankfurter" to avoid kids associating the meat they were about to eat with Pluto.

This is really neat. I have no recollection of the Red Wagon/Plaza Inn/Restaurant with table service.

Pegleg Pete said...

I find it amusing that it's headlined 'Menu for Young Americans' - what if you were an international visitor? And how can you not like buttermilk, Major!?

Melissa said...

We saw how much cajoling it took to get the Dwarfs to wash their hands before dinner; I bet their cottage stank to high heaven. Snow White's nose probably recdeded of its own accord one day when she went to visit them after they reverted to their dirty bachelor ways.

Here's a blurb about the Lord Menu Company from a research project and book based on the menu collection at the Los Angeles Public Library.

The only time I had buttermilk was when we churned butter in a jar in the first grade. Maybe it's better when it's made professionally. Ours wasn't very good, but then again, neither was our butter. That's what you get with child labor!

I always get a laugh at the outraged parents on the WDW message boards. "Why can't Be Our Guest serve STAPLES like pizza and chicken nuggets? And not the white meat ones, but the pressed meat ones like they have at McDonald's? I know some kids are adventurous and eat EXOTIC food, but face it, most kids will ONLY eat plain, everyday food!" When did we gat to a place where fast food treats are plain, everyday staples, and meatloaf and turkey sandwiches (the offending kids' menu items at Be Our Guest) are "adventurous" and "exotic?"

Anonymous said...

What young American wouldn't want a good halibut steak and big glass of buttermilk while having a fun day at Disneyland!

K. Martinez said...

I love anything related to the restaurants and snack bars of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Whether it's menus, serving trays or dinnerware it's all great. I actually have a serving tray from the Kikkoman's Adventureland Veranda in the Magic Kingdom which I highly treasure.

Plaza Inn used to be my favorite restaurant back in the day, but I'm not so much a fan of the place today. I don't know if it's the menu or the remodel they did, but it just doesn't feel the same quality it used to be.

I'll have the tuna salad sandwich and Jell-O, but pass on the buttermilk. Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nancy, I like tuna salad sandwiches, but I’m sure I would have had the hot dog when I was a kid.

Leonard Bast, interesting, I was not aware of that version. Makes me wonder if there are other variations out there?

Chuck, it is very possible that they were worried that kids would think a hot dog was made from Pluto! I don’t believe I ate at that restaurant until very late in its existence (like maybe the 1990s).

Pegleg Pete, oh yeah, I forgot to mention that! Don’t want to feed no commies!! My dad liked buttermilk, he would grind a little pepper on top before he drank it!

Melissa, those stinky Dwarfs were just fine before the princess showed up. Thanks for the blurb about the menus! We made butter in class too, but I think I was so used to salted butter than I was disappointed in the bland stuff we put on bread that day. Parents insisting on nuggets and pizza seem funny, but I suppose they want their finicky kids to eat!

Anon, now they want salmon steaks and a nice chablis.

K. Martinez, there are other menus that I covet, but they just go for too much these days. I once bid on a Red Wagon Inn Christmas menu, but it went for over $1000! What era is your Kikkoman tray from? I didn’t know they sponsored anything for Disney.

K. Martinez said...

Major, 70's/80's era. Kikkoman was the sponsor of the Adventureland Veranda starting in 1977. The restaurant closed in 1994. Kikkoman also sponsored the Tahitian Terrace in Disneyland at one time. There's a photo of the serving tray I have, about midpoint in this article from the WDW website "Widen Your World".

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, oh neat! That is very cool. I have a special fondness for those fiberglass trays, as an old family friend's company made many of them. The company was called "Cambro", and I am surprised how often I see the name on the backs of similar trays.

Anonymous said...

These menus are wonderful and interesting for what they don't contain. French Fries. Not a single mention. Now, it seems even french fries come with more fries. My experience in Scouting is that many kids eat only chicken nuggets and fries until they go out in a bigger world and learn about real food. Few of the boys in my troop would touch anything on these old menus.

I am lucky to retain one memory of a table service dinner at the Plaza Inn, alas after the change from Red Wagon Inn. It was expensive, I know that, but can't recall the price. I had spaghetti and meatballs, Lady and the Tramp. I don't remember if the menu looked like this one. It was fancy too, there was a strolling violinist. My Dad called him over and tipped him a dollar ($10 in today's money) to play "My little Alice Blue Gown" for Mom. I was very embarrassed, of course, a little kid watching my parents hold hands, but I wouldn't trade those memories now for a million dollars.


Unknown said...

Major, a quick comment on the change of the name from "Inn" to "Restaurant." Apparently a lot of guests thought it was themed to a hotel, and not an eatery, so they just passed on by. I'd be curious to see the effect the change actually had on sales.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, it really IS amazing that French Fries are not on the menus at all. As you said, they are such a part of every menu (particularly at fast food restaurants), it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t always the case. Wow, you are lucky that you got to experience the Plaze Inn when it was such a fancy place! And I love the story about your mom and dad holding hands.

Brad Abbott, that is kind of the theory that I was imagining. After all, an inn is where you go to spend the night! Still, if anyone saw the tables outside, and the menu board, you’d think they would figure it out pretty quickly. It *would* be interesting to know if the name change had any effect at all.