While perusing the menu collection at the Los Angeles Central Library, it's stunning how quickly the graphics change when you move from the 1930s file down to the 1940s file. In the 30s, menus were adorned with bucolic scenes and images of nostalgia and comfort. Pull open the 1940s drawer and the menus immediately turn noticeably redder, whiter and bluer.
The patriotic bent of these menus coincides, of course, with World War II. This is evidenced especially in the menus of Albert Sheetz's establishments. Sheetz was a candymaker, his company going by the name of Sheetz Homemade Mission Candies, who opened a number of restaurants in the 20s, 30s and 40s that acted as diners with soda fountains and candy bars attached.
From the collection, you can see the imagery of one of his 1937 menus, from a restaurant at 7th and Hill, depicting a horse and rider and what looks like a grand house with servants at the doorway. Five years later, the menu above shows a very different aesthetic. This menu is from Sheetz's Hollywood restaurant at 5575 Santa Monica Blvd. and is dated 1942. That address was also the location of the main office and factory of the company.
Even the language used on the menu itself speaks to wartime. “Our food is cooked to preserve its vitamins — your health defense!” the menu proclaims.
At the end of this menu, all of the Sheetz candy store and restaurant locations are listed, a total of 28 throughout Southern California. There are also some pretty amazing-sounding sundaes, including “Sheetz Delight”: chocolate, coffee and caramel pecan ice cream, butterscotch topping, whipped cream and pecans, for $0.30.
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