Tag Archives: vintage restaurant

The Sandwich Chef Mug Mystery

[UPDATE: Our good friend Kabir Bhatia, he of WKSU fame and a good egg to boot, has solved the mystery! I’m not going to edit this post beyond adding this update, because hey, I still want y’all to chime in with your recollections. But, you’d still be well-advised to check out the links Kabir has helpfully provided in the comments section! There’s a very interesting history behind Sandwich Chef, which lives on to this day as Wall Street Deli.]

Friends, I begin the new year here with a query. I am stumped, I am intrigued, and I humbly implore you to share whatever knowledge you may have on the subject in the comments. I expect no immediate response, but at least this post will be here when the right person stumbles across it.

As you may or may not recall, I’ve gone to the, as I have just deemed it, “mug well” more than once here. It’s true; I *love* collecting vintage mugs, glassware, that sort of thing. What we’ve seen before (here, here, here and here) has all been associated with broadcasting, and as such falls within whatever rough guidelines I have established for my stupid dumb blog. (Guidelines that are easily broken when I feel like it cause it’s my site and I’ll write what I want when I want.) But the fact of the matter is that my interest in promotional drinkin’ and eatin’ implements goes beyond just the TV and/or radio-related ones. Old business establishments, beer and soda, locally-related stuff in general, or sometimes just something that strikes my fancy (there’s a reason I got supremely stoked over a coffee mug featuring a presumably-1980s-era paint splash design scheme), it’s all fair game. The end result of this mindset? I don’t exactly pick up everything I come across, but nevertheless, I frankly have almost too many mugs/glasses/etc.

Aw, who am I kidding, there can never be too many. And luckily for me, they’re plentiful and usually pretty cheap. Evidently no one else in my general vicinity cares as much as I do about this sort of thing! (Or so I hope!)

Anyway, when it comes to this particular hobby of mine, probably the area that gets me just as fired up as something broadcasting-related are those things related to eating establishments. As in, restaurants. Drive-ins, burger joints, steakhouses, pizza places; the older the better. I flip over this sort of thing, especially when the establishment in question is a piece of Americana no longer in existence, or one that’s still alive but only as an endangered species.

And that brings us to today’s subject. In relation to the end of the preceding paragraph, I can only guess that this one’s the former and not the latter, cause man, I can’t find nothin’ on it out there in internet land.

As you can see, it’s a plastic, almost-certainly vintage, mug for a place called Sandwich Chef. I have no recollection nor knowledge of Sandwich Chef, and the choice in name doesn’t exactly make for a narrow set of search results. There appears to be a place in Little Falls, NY with that name, but apparently they opened in 2012; I don’t think they’re the same, because this mug just screams 1970s-to-early/mid-1980s to me.

The overall design is the same as that McDonald’s/WAKR one I linked to before (here, have it again), and the Sandwich Chef logo features the kind of old school aesthetic that you frankly just don’t see anymore. (The 1972-1978 Burger Chef logo seen here features the same vintage charm, though please don’t take that to imply there was any sort of connection between that chef and this chef. Unless there was? I’d think I’d be coming across some info if that were the case though…)

And look, “Home of the 25 Cent Coffee,” when was the last time you could find a cup o’ joe for that bargain price?! (Unless you still can somewhere; with pop being my nearly-all-day choice of caffeinated beverage, I don’t drink coffee very often.)

Both sides of the mug are essentially the same, the only difference being the reverse has, in place of the 25 cent coffee slogan, a declaration of Maryland Club Coffee, which I take to mean was Sandwich Chef’s coffee provider of choice. (Marvel at the power of my deductive reasoning!) It’s really not a big enough difference to make me go upstairs and take a picture of, but it is an additional piece of info – though I’m still not finding anything helpful online.

As evidenced in that McDonald’s/WAKR mug link (here, have it again), this Sandwich Chef thing most likely came with a lid and surface holder originally, though both are currently MIA. I could easily replace them, though ideally I’d like know what color the originals were before doing so.

So, my questions regarding Sandwich Chef are as follows: where was it located, and for how long? 1970s? 1980s? Was it a chain, or a standalone spot? I’ve searched to no avail, and I’ve asked to no avail. Since this was found locally, it’s a reasonably safe assumption that it was a Northeast Ohio establishment…until I remember that I come across out-of-state stuff pretty frequently. Hey, people move and/or go on vacations all the time, after all! And if it was a chain, I’d like to think I could uncover some recollection somewhere. But as far as all these questions go, so far no soap.

Whether these mysteries are eventually solved or not though, this is still a really neat find. Indeed, these are the kind of promotional items that tend to get me really fired up, because it’s stuff you just don’t see very often – if at all. I just wish that, you know, I knew more about it! If you do, hey, hit up the comments! Please!

The Pizza Shop of Canton, Ohio – Vintage Promotional Playing Cards

“Oooh where has yoy been East Video Dood???”

Here’s the deal: I had something ordered on eBay that I felt stood a very good chance of being worthy (ha!) of being spotlighted on my silly blog. I was excited for it, it held promise, so of course the seller never sent it. Days went by without any update to the order after my lightnin’ quick payment, I (politely) opened my yap, the item was then marked as shipped – but without a tracking number – days later, then weeks went by without said item arriving, I (politely) opened my yap again, a week went by before I received a response promising it was going out ASAP, I gave the benefit of the doubt and waited some more, nothing happened again, so I finally filed a complaint and got a refund.

Any semi-reasonable buyer would have filed said complaint and gotten said refund looong before I actually did, but with a generous window of time to act, only being out 12 bucks, and really wanting what I ordered, I played extraordinarily patient but was not rewarded. Not only did I not get what I hoped to write about (and I’m not saying what it was cause I don’t need all y’all battlin’ me if another one pops up), but weeks and weeks went by without a proper update here in the interim. I’m not saying that was the only reason you didn’t get an update during that time period, but it’s the factor I’m laying all the blame on.

So, instead you get to read about pizza-related playing cards. A fair trade-off? Without knowing what I was hoping to detail instead, you’ll just never know, will you??? (Unless I can obtain said item in the future; then I’ll spill the beans.)

No, this update has nothing to do with video, broadcasting, electronics, or any of the other normative suspects on this site, but it does have to do with Northeast Ohio and advertising, so I’m saying it fits. And even if it doesn’t, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want.

Behold! It’s The Pizza Shop of Canton, Ohio, immortalized in playing card form! Actually, nothing here specifies if it was Ohio’s Canton, and Wikipedia sez there are lots and lots of places in this world with that moniker, but since I found these in Canton, Ohio, methinks it’s a safe guess that that’s where these originally hail from. Quite a leap, huh?!

Found with a two-compartment, ridge-sided plastic holder that appears to have originally had a lid at some point (there were none to be found in the vicinity, and I looked), many of these cards were all over the place when I came across them at a thrift store several months ago. They appeared to have been part of some card collector’s collection (that’s alliteration, as well as slightly redundant); other cards of the playing variety were strewn about as well. The Domino’s Pizza cards went back because they didn’t feature The Noid, but I’m a sucker for vintage local restaurant memorabilia, especially when said restaurant apparently doesn’t exist anymore, so there was no way these weren’t coming home with me – once I gathered them all back up, anyway.

I say the place apparently doesn’t exist anymore because I  can find no information on it whatsoever. Granted, typing “The Pizza Shop” and “Canton” into a search engine doesn’t exactly make for a narrow set of results, but nevertheless, I could find no info on this place at all. Is it still around? Did it evolve/merge into another place? Do you remember it? PLEASE, share any info you have in the comments! This is an interactive site, y’see!

The image you’re seeing on the left above is found across the back of each and every card in the set, presenting what I surmise were the actual logos of the restaurant proper: the name (which is sort of a must-have in cases such as these) and a little chef giving the “okay sign” and wearing a kickin’ bow tie (though aren’t most bow ties pretty kickin’ anyway?). There’s also the tagline proclaiming the place to be “Canton’s Original,” though original what isn’t specified. Was it Canton’s original pizza place, the original location of what was a local chain, or…?

(Also, if the plastic holder these are in did originally feature a lid, I wonder if any kind of graphics/info pertaining to The Pizza Shop was printed on it as well? If indeed the holder is even original to these cards in the first place, that is.)

Otherwise, and as demonstrated with the card on the right above, well, it’s just a normal set of playing cards. Brown & Bigelow playing cards to be exact, as per the company info printed right there for all to see. Brown & Bigelow of St. Paul, MN is evidently no longer around; this site says they existed from the 1920s to the 1980s. I have no hard data regarding what possible date(s) these could possibly hail from, but even if they’re from the extreme of the 1980s, that still counts as vintage so stop finding fault with my post title.

Actually, the font of “Canton’s Original” strikes me as being 1960s-ish. I have absolutely nothing to support that other than a gut-feeling, but I get that impression nevertheless. Again, if you can confirm or know otherwise, drop some knowledge in the comments!

Like I said, many of these cards were all over the place when I stumbled upon them, which meant I had to duly collect them all back up for collecting-purposes. It appears I got them all; I counted 53 cards here. That is, it’s a normal 52-card French-style deck, with one Joker. I searched pretty diligently, so if there were any more Jokers, I no not where they got to. I really do think I’ve got the whole set here.

Given my lack of success in figuring out when or how long this restaurant existed, the chances of my figuring out when and/or how exactly these cards were originally obtained seems doubtful as well. Free with a pizza, perhaps? Nevertheless, the deck is a cool little piece of Northeast Ohio eatery memorabilia, one that appears (to me) to hail from a truly bygone era. I don’t normally collect playing cards, but these were just too neat – and ostensibly obscure –  to pass up.

I wasn’t kidding before; if you have any info on this place, please share in the comments!