Diner Culture

My friend Michele and I at the Marlton Diner on our last day of high school.

It’s 3am, and you and your friends realize you are all super hungry.  Maybe you know a pizza place that’s still open.  Maybe your Taco Bell has a 24hr drive thru.  Maybe you attempt to make some ridiculous concoction with whatever is in the fridge.

If you live in Jersey, you go to the diner.

There’s a classic list of “you know you’re from South Jersey” -isms that has been floating around the internet for a few years now, and one of them (near the top of the list, of course) is “if you wonder why there aren’t more 24-hour diners everywhere else in the country.”  The diner isn’t just a place to eat, it’s a place for friends to come together.  It’s a place for memories.

There are a few rules that basically classify an authentic diner.  First, it must be open for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  If the diner has “hours,” it’s not a real diner.  Second, the entire menu has to be available all day.  The best part of going to the diner is having waffles and ice cream for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Third, it has to look like a diner.  Stainless steel, vinyl, and neon signs are a must.

I can think of at least ten diners that are less than ten minutes away from me, all of which have their own memories.  I usually don’t associate specific memories with restaurants, but diners are different.  There is something about the culture of the diner that makes you feel like everything that happens there is significant.  My friends and I piled into The Marlton Diner after graduation practice on our last day of high school for a celebratory brunch.  My dad took my brother and I to a diner after our first Eagles game and we sat at our own table and ordered milkshakes instead of dinner food.  I’ve had first dates at the diner, breakups at the diner, and celebrations at the diner.  When my friends and I were at Warped Tour last week, it was cold and we were tired and hungry, and as we sat listening to the last few bands, all I could think about was the short stack of chocolate chip pancakes that was waiting for me at The Cherry Hill diner on the way home.

I’m sure there are plenty of diners elsewhere in the country, but for some reason, whenever I think of my hometown, the diner is one of the first things on the list of things associated (mostly because I think about how much I don’t like the Marlton Diner; I prefer Medport).

The most important thing I’ve learned about diners is: it’s never just about eating breakfast or dinner.  It’s about eating breakfast for dinner.

Advertisements

Going Out: The Franklin Fountain

Image

My little brother Ryan outside of The Franklin Fountain a few years ago, patiently waiting for his Cotton Candy ice cream on a sugar cone (he gets the same thing every time).

I am an ice cream person.  I will totally admit it.  I eat way more ice cream than is normal for any one person.  I would probably be about twenty pounds lighter if it weren’t for all of the ice cream I eat.  

I have a favorite ice cream place.  I mean, I love all ice cream places, but I do happen to have a favorite one.  My all-time favorite ice cream place is in Philadelphia, and it’s called The Franklin Fountain.  

The Franklin Fountain is an adorable little shop on Market Street in Philly.  It opened in 2004, but it feels like it’s been around since 1700.  The employees dress up, the signs are all old-fashioned, and the bathroom is labeled “the water closet.”  Its quirkiness really sets it apart: they serve their to-go orders in Chinese takeout containers.  Cutest thing ever. 

 

Besides that, the ice cream is absolutely delicious.  They have every flavor you could ever imagine and they are all homemade.  They also have a huge menu filled with awesome sundaes.  They also make old fashioned flavored sodas and fantastic milkshakes.  

My absolute favorite thing about The Franklin Fountain is their homemade hot fudge.  It is made using local ingredients in antique copper candy kettles, and it is to die for.  The best thing I’ve ever had at The Franklin Fountain was simply a dish of vanilla ice cream with their delicious hot fudge drizzled on top.  

The Franklin Fountain is perfect on a hot summer day, and the line wraps all the way through the store and out the door on Friday and Saturday nights.  I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the Philadelphia area, or to locals who are looking for a great way to finish off a long day in the city.  

We love to take the RiverLink ferry over from the Camden Waterfront after a day at the Aquarium or the Children’s Garden;  it is about a fifteen minute trip over to Penn’s Landing and is $7 per person round trip.  The Franklin Fountain is an easy walk from Penn’s Landing, and there are a bunch of great pizza places around that area if you’re looking to eat before you grab some ice cream (We like Soho Pizza on Market, just a few blocks down).  

Overall, I’d say The Franklin Fountain is the best ice cream I’ve ever had in my life, and I encourage you to give it a try.  You’re cheating yourself if you don’t try the homemade fudge, and I’d be surprised if you didn’t end up purchasing a jar to take home with you!

Enjoy!